How to remove software as a barrier to digital transformation


Software is now central to the lives of every consumer. In the early days, a less-than-perfect software experience was tolerated. But today – whether it be song downloads, video calls of food deliveries – consumers expect technology to just work.

So why are expectations lower in the office? The words ‘enterprise software’ often conjure thoughts of complex systems that are clunky, slow and difficult to use.

Instead of the software working for the business, users often work around the software. Multiply that experience across many software applications and the headache can get substantially bigger.

Research shows a consistent majority of business users have significant issues with software – from insufficient capabilities to applications that don’t meet requirements. Software-as-a-barrier (SaaB) has become a common model in enterprise software.

>See also: Digital transformation: an analysis of its potential and the challenges

SaaB makes routine business tasks and processes more difficult because of technology that doesn’t work well together. It complicates, rather than simplifies. And it is in many corners of the enterprise, from HR to accounting and financial systems to ERP.

When software doesn’t work as intended, the business rejects it and people don’t use it. It’s why so many life sciences organisations still resort to spreadsheets to track content, quality changes, regulatory information, and clinical trial data.

Focusing on the business

When SaaB is removed, people become empowered. Take the dreaded expense report. Hunting down receipts to create and submit an expense report is burdensome, but cloud software changes the entire process by automatically tracking expenses in real time. The routine task of creating expense reports is now fully automated and simple.

Many organisations are starting to remove SaaB to take advantage of new digital opportunities. For example, commercial operations are using digital to gain better intelligence of market dynamics, holistically manage commercial content globally to stay compliant, and create closer connections with customers.

The word of the decade will be ‘digital’, a recurring theme. In life sciences, breaking down SaaB presents a significant opportunity, for example, to transform engagement and collaboration with healthcare professionals and create a more efficient digital supply chain.

Digital is disrupting every industry. In a survey of almost 1,200 c-suite decision makers, 90% agreed their business must to evolve to thrive in a digital world, while 98% said their business or organisation has already been disrupted.

In life sciences, the commercial business model is still pre-internet and has yet to be disrupted. Companies approach digital channels differently – they’re often disconnected or they’re use is limited. This severely impacts doctors’ experiences with pharmaceutical companies, especially in relation to how they interact with companies in other industries.

Consequently, it’s difficult for busy healthcare providers to get the new drug or product information they need, when and where they want it. Engagement is becoming more digital, but SaaB is preventing life sciences from making the transition to running a digital business.

The changing expectations of healthcare providers and their patients will drive transformation. With more drug innovations, life sciences organisations will need to create more targeted and flexible content that better informs physicians and patients.

Additionally, healthcare providers will want to connect and engage with life sciences companies through digital channels for the information they want, when and how they want it. These dynamics are prompting many companies to change quickly and replace SaaB.

Enabling digital transformation

It is clear that software will drive innovation in commercial and enable the new digital business in life sciences. But in order for that to happen, companies need to remove software as a barrier to innovation. Here are a few steps you can take now.

1. Get more efficient in the cloud

Start by modernising your operations in the cloud. By 2020, 67% of all enterprise IT infrastructure and software spending will be for cloud-based offerings. Additionally, the use of industry-specific cloud applications is expected to increase, with half of the respondents of the Future of Cloud Computer Survey indicating they are or will use an industry cloud offering within the next 24 months. Focus on areas that are most strategic to your business and that have the most opportunity to provide a competitive advantage, such as customer-facing applications or content management systems. If these systems are creating complications today, it’s an area ripe to take out SaaB and move to the cloud.

2. Streamline processes across your digital supply chain

As companies transition to operate in a digital marketplace, commercial organisations face the daunting task of creating, reviewing, approving, distributing and withdrawing commercial content at internet speed. Typically, the root cause of an ineffective digital supply chain is too many fragmented processes and systems. As a result, the wheel is reinvented in many areas – every brand across the company figures out and implements its own website or digital engagement strategy. Everyone pays for this inefficiency.

>See also: 10 predictions for digital transformation in 2017

Removing SaaB can transform how brands operate and drive new, repeatable processes across the digital supply chain. When the digital ecosystem is simplified, a significant amount of time, cost, effort and compliance risk can be reduced when getting content to market and, ultimately, help the business capitalize on new market opportunities.

3. Create a partnership with IT

Fundamentally, the proliferation of SaaB happens when people with competing priorities make decisions that impact the purchasing process. The end result is software that doesn’t work for anyone. So partnership between the business and IT is critical.

Many CIOs now have a cloud first mandate in the life sciences industry and their role is shifting to leading their organisation’s digital transformation. The opportunity for commercial teams is to align on priorities with IT and identify technology limitations where SaaB is holding the business back.


Sourced from Matt Wallach, co-founder and president, Veeva

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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Digital Transformation