How Cipla is embedding digital into its business planning and execution

At Cipla, India's third largest pharma company, digital is an integral part of the strategic vision and is embedded in the value chain

Cipla is the third largest pharma company in India, an Indian multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company, headquartered in Mumbai. The company is primarily into developing medicines to treat respiratory disorders, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, diabetes, weight disorders, depression and other medical conditions.

“At Cipla, we are unleashing the power of digital in terms of reaching out to the customers, healthcare practitioners and eventually running an engine which feeds into our key strategy processes,” says Kedar Upadhye, Joint President & Global CFO, Cipla.

Upadhye speaks about embracing digital to enable underlined processes in manufacturing, product development, on-ground activities, etc. The intention is to reduce the time to market by deploying digital tools in integrated product development and taking laboratory discoveries to the shop-floors compliantly through systems like Laboratory Information Management System, SCADA, etc.

Robust infrastructure
Hence, digital for Cipla is a very strategic in vision and it is about developing the products which meet the needs of the patients and pass through a compliant manufacturing infrastructure. “We have a robust infrastructure for finance, HR and supply chain processes, so digital is wide ranging for Cipla,” he states.

Digital is embedded in business planning and executions, each critical area in the value chain, and according to Upadhye, has a clear approach for digitised operations.

“The leadership has put an articulated vision to digital. For example, the entire field force is to be moved to a digital detailing platform in the next 12 to 15 months. Second target could be to reduce the down time by 20-30 per cent at the company’s global manufacturing set-up where a cloud-based architecture has to support the commercial and portfolio decisions. These are some of the goals that adds value and a sense of urgency to the digitised roadmap,” he explains.

Practical and strategic decision making is facilitated through real-time information. Tools like advanced analytics and those used at business warehouses highlight areas which require focus, rather than targeting multiple actionable items. Therefore, a large amount of data is converted into KPIs which provides insights against the previous period’s targets, or competition.

Supply chain is end to end. From procurement of the raw material to the dispatch of goods to the customers, digitisation is helping the company build a strong integrated supply chain network, and is helping them to manage efficiencies, the cost of supply chain, services rendered to customers and investments in inventories and infrastructure.

Faster decision making
Since invoicing happens in high volumes, Upadhye mentioned the deployment of a Chatbot for the financial operations, to process the travel invoices. The company is very enthused about the potential of robotic automation, currently at various stages of utilisation in the accounts payable area and tax declaration with zero documentation. This has enabled Cipla to streamline operations generating financial benefits, compliance and HR benefits. The employee consequently experiences a truly simplified digital automation process with a click of button.

Automated workflows have been introduced for inventory reserve calculation for GAAP accounting filings.

Upadhye further highlights the business outcome achieved from RPA. It gives a delightful experience to the organisation, its partners and customers. Since everything becomes scalable, the resources required to perform the multiple transactions reduce substantially and can be repurposed to high-end work which adds more value. This is much better than being stuck in the manual processes.

“RPA itself is very objective in nature. Powered with analytics and database, and being cloud-based, there is enhanced security whereby the accuracy of problem-solving increases enormously. It offers a fact-based, prioritised decision making, and the effectiveness of managerial decision-making is enhanced,” Upadhye states.

Connecting manufacturing and supply chain
“To fulfill the dynamic demand of serving all, we have transformed our supply chain by hooking up all our production machines to collect real-time feedback,” he explains.

This Manufacturing Execution System (MES) automates material flow and accurately captures cost-information with a paperless workflow in turn reducing waste, re-work and scrap. This information will help to increase the volumes while maintaining quality.

In the very key area of pharmacovigilance, Cipla was the first in Asia Pacific to upgrade to cloud-based solution. Besides being completely scalable, the upgrade enhances compliance with E2B exchange and periodic reporting, allows global case processing and speeds up case review.

Improving employee productivity
In comparison to the pen and paper mechanism of the past, Closed Loop Marketing system helps the sales force to have meaningful discussions within a short face time in the doctor’s chamber. The CLM system automatically analyses physician preferences and arms the sales force to deliver personalised content that closely matches physicians’ interests. The accompanying e-detailing software displays and manages visual aids such as presentations, reprints, and even animations. As it does so, it captures the interactions between reps and physicians by recording which items are viewed and for how long. The software also automatically calculates expenses borne by the employee during his visits.

Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) can control, manage, organise and document information in the labs. This system digitises data generated during management of sample, instrument, stability and for micro parameters. It can further automate data collection and reduce risk of human errors during transcription, resulting in perfect batches. Electronic Lab Notebooks help to capture data during research and track phases of product development by automating the documentation process.

LIMS helps in improving the productivity by facilitating collaboration, sharing of information improving accuracy and precision of research. VR/AR technologies are also being in training employees on SOPs and plant maintenance.

When it comes to patients, everything from the CiplaMed website to the recent partnership to make a multi-lingual clinically-validated digital disease management platform available to patients living with diabetes or cardiovascular diseases is an attempt to leverage digital. “For patients, it is a form of empowerment and they take charge of their health. For us, it constitutes a way to go beyond the pill and contribute to shaping the healthcare ecosystem through solutions that target awareness, diagnosis, treatment, compliance and well-being of patients,” mentions Upadhye.

“Further, we are upgrading our inhalers with IOT devices to help in patient education, drug adherence and dosage administration,” he adds.


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CFOChatbotciplahealthcareKedar UpadhyeManufacturingManufacturing Execution SystempharmaPharmacovigilanceRPAsupply chain
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