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“We didn’t do anything wrong but somehow we lost.” This notoriously famous quote from the former CEO of Nokia summarized how a functional and successful company with a market share of 55 percent went to zero in a matter of no time. The warning it implies is imminent for companies and businesses dealing with digitalization. The Accenture Business Lounge, hosted by Accenture and BaselArea.swiss at the Launch Labs in Basel on 23 May focused on “Disruption through artificial intelligence”. Dennis Theis, Head of Accenture Basel, welcomed the more than 100 guests and the keynote speakers: Jack Ramsay, Global Technology Delivery Director at Accenture and Loic Giraud, Head of Business Analytics COE at Novartis.
Industries turned upside down
Jack Ramsay kicked off the event with an inspiring speech about the future of artificial intelligence and its effects on the workforce of the future. He illustrated how applied intelligence affects the way we work and live. Every step of the automation generated value, freed time up to learn more and helped to develop the service sector. Already, companies such as Facebook or Amazon know us better than our closest family members – because they listen and generate knowledge from the data they collect. One of the most striking examples how intelligence is applied is currently to be witnessed: “Driving is the number 1 job in the world, but robots do it better than humans which is why digitalization is the biggest immediate job killer in that field,” Ramsay suggested. With autonomous driving around the corner, the automobile industry is turned on its head. The same goes for other fields like healthcare and pharma where new business models are coming up with the intention to serve customers better and to cut down on time to market. “Always keep in mind the end-to-end-service,” Ramsay recommended. “You do not stop at painting the house, you want to renovate it.”
Cultural change is the big challenge
Loic Giraud followed up and demonstrated exclusive insights into how Novartis applies artificial intelligence. “The pharmaceutical industry is traditional, but we simply do not have the luxury anymore to work ten years for one new product.” To remain competitive, the company needs to undergo a digital transformation which stands and falls with senior executives who have their priorities straight”, Giraud explained. AI is meant to empower new business outcomes like a new speed to market, a redefined workforce, a new revenue stream, reimagined products and services and new markets. Novartis acknowledges the potential of AI for all important business processes including drug development, clinical trials, pharmacovigilance, precision medicine and disease management. For example, AI will reduce the costs to discover and commercialize new drugs by approximately 25 percent. The transformation also poses new questions for the legal unit that needs to deal with contracting algorithms. Furthermore, Novartis aims to optimize their engagement with the 100’000 healthcare professionals they visit every day. Giraud also addressed the challenge of changing the culture and transforming the workforce. “We offer coaching and training of specific skills in our digital awareness program.” Cultural change is considered one of the biggest issues, with Jack Ramsay claiming: “To change the culture, a memo is simply not enough.” Between representation with the mission to go digital and the later born digital natives, there is “permafrost in the middle”. The event was concluded with an aperitif which gave the guests the opportunity to network and further discuss the effects of digital disruption.
Text: Annett Altvater