CIO Ensures IT Delivers a Higher Level of ValueBy Peter High
CIO Ensures IT Delivers a Higher Level of Value
Patheon is a leading global provider of pharmaceutical development and manufacturing services. The company provides a comprehensive, integrated and highly customizable set of solutions to help customers of all sizes satisfy complex development and manufacturing needs at any stage of the pharmaceutical development cycle. As the head of Global IT, Lindsay Fernandez ensures that the company invests and delivers technology solutions that drive enhanced value to its internal and external customers. As he tells CIO Insight contributor Peter High, Fernandez has been in the throes of a major transformation to ensure that IT adds a higher level of value to an already technically savvy organization.
Peter High: What are some highlights from your current strategic plan?
Lindsay Fernandez: [We use] technology to enable Patheon's Flexible Manufacturing strategy that will tailor manufacturing solutions for our customers. We do this through business-driven technology initiatives that are tied to specific value drivers, such as electronic process control verification in our manufacturing process and our One Source initiative that enables greater speed and simplicity through a fully integrated supply chain.
High: You have led a significant IT transformation since taking over as the head of global information technology. Please describe the form it has taken and the value derived.
Fernandez: Over the past 18 to 24 months, we have transformed from a decentralized and predominantly site-based IT organization to a global and strategic technology solution provider. We did this in a multi-phased approach that started with outsourcing the commoditized level one and level two IT services, such as service desk, desk side support and off- the- shelf application maintenance.
The strategic values in this initial phase were threefold: scalability to support Patheon's growth strategy; enabling IT to focus on Patheon's core businesses and capabilities; and standardization and harmonization of IT policies and procedures.
The outsourcing initiative was the catalyst enabling our subsequent phases, infrastructure modernization and application standardization & rationalization. Our current efforts are to further improve business continuity through a consolidation of our data centers, use of hyper-convergence technology and leverage cloud providers for backup and disaster recovery. While we're still in the middle of this phase of the transformation, we've already seen positive results: our agility and flexibility of provisioning digital environments that accelerate the speed of innovation.
High: You have also led a significant cloud migration. What was the rationale for doing so, and what do you see as the primary value of moving to the cloud?
Fernandez: Patheon's strategy in providing flexible and simplified manufacturing solutions to our customers requires IT to be nimble, scalable and secure, while at the same time driving IT costs down without sacrificing quality of service. As Patheon provides an extended and flexible supply chain to its customers in the pharmaceutical industry, we see cloud providers as an extension of our ability to deliver digital platforms in a more secure, scalable and flexible manner.
Our rationale was twofold: the need to consolidate our infrastructure, which has grown to more than 20+ data centers, with a mixture of new and old technology, and the need to have a scalable digital platform to support business growth and innovation. The primary value from leveraging our cloud providers has been in lower operating costs, speed to innovation, enhanced security/controls and an overall improved business continuity posture.
High: You have also led a variety of mergers and acquisition activities. With each acquisition and integration, please describe how you organize your team and some of the major highlights of the playbook you implement.
CIO Ensures IT Delivers a Higher Level of Value
Fernandez: We don't have a dedicated IT M&A team, but we do have talented IT professionals who are skilled across multiple IT disciplines and have strong business acumen. Each acquisition is different, but the integration activities are the same.
In our experience over the last six acquisitions, we've learned that the real challenge is defining the scope and speed of an acquisition to ensure a successful integration. Based on the type of acquisition, we define the minimal technology changes required to integrate a site or company and get them to a standalone environment.
With this approach, the newly acquired site or company can get on with business operations and begin the organizational integration needed to achieve the maximum realization of value. All other technology changes are then considered as part of our ongoing IT strategy roadmap and planned accordingly.
High: What do you see as the primary value IT can deliver to a pharmaceutical manufacturing services company?
Fernandez: In recent years, we've seen significant changes in the pharmaceutical manufacturing services market, and this year even more so, as the political climate has become a potential disruptor to the industry. With the downward pressures in drug prices, and big pharma looking at opportunities to reduce manufacturing costs, technology becomes the true differentiating factor.
Looking forward, I believe that the IT value drivers that will differentiate pharmaceutical manufacturing service companies are the following:
- Scalable infrastructure to drive flexible manufacturing solutions
- Digital enterprise platform to enable a seamless and integrated supply chain
- Automation technology to demonstrate compliance in a complex manufacturing landscape
- Enhanced data services that transform data into a competitive advantage for both customer and service provider.
High: What trends particularly excite you as you look to the future?
Fernandez: Technology truly excites me, as the possibilities are only limited by the mind's ability to dream. Here are a few trends that I am following:
- Nanotechnology that can further transform and revolutionize many industry sectors, but more specifically the advancements in science and medicine to extend human life
- Artificial Intelligence that can be used to drive "smart manufacturing" environments with the potential to eliminate waste, downtime, variability and self-maintain
- 3D printing will continue to disrupt many industries as this technology continues to evolve
- Augmented and/or virtual reality is another trend that is exploding on the consumer side, but the commercial aspects are just as exciting as we explore uses in medicine, commercial manufacturing and even defense.