A dose of tough medicine
AstraZeneca has had a difficult recent history and like many businesses it faces some tough challenges in the near future. Jon Kirby, CIO at the Anglo-Swedish organisation, is part of a new leadership team facing up to those challenges, read the full CIO profile here.
January 16, 2013
1. AstraZeneca's CIO Jon Kirby buys into technology
“AstraZeneca is a pure-play pharmaceutical company – we have not diversified into areas like pet foods or toothbrushes,” CIO Kirby explains of the company that reported revenues of $32bn in 2011.
2. A dose of tough medicine
“We are driving improvements in R&D, productivity and the quality of the pipeline to get new products to market and help the business development when there are mergers and acquisitions”
3. AstraZeneca is Britain’s second largest pharmaceutical manufacturer
“The industry faces a lot of real challenges. Regulators around the world are becoming a lot more challenging towards the ethics and benefits of a drug, so that brings new problems: drugs have to be differentiated and approved by the regulators, so physicians will have less control over what they prescribe.”
4. Heavy burden
“Healthcare is a burden on countries and there is increased access to generic medicines. So AstraZeneca has to focus on how it effectively develops, sells and markets. This is a highly complex business, and unnecessarily so in some cases.”
“IS has not always been fully aligned and not seen as a source of competitive advantage. Yet there isn’t a single part of the business strategy that cannot be done without IS.”
6. Information is power
“We are an information-driven business, so we have positioned ourselves a lot more effectively now. Information is the core thing, not the technology, and that is what is driving the way we work. So we have a much more business- and information-led strategy rather than technology-led.”
7. Leading the good
“We had a lot of good technology people. The challenge that IS had was a leadership and business outcomes issue.” Kirby explains that these good technology people did not feel valued, perhaps didn’t communicate well within the organisation and faced constant criticism over technologies like email. This created motivation problems within IS. “That created a parent/child relationship, as IS was too eager to please, rather than help the business change and bring in new ideas”
8. 80 per cent
“The first thing I did was make sure that I had the right leadership team, and that meant changing 80 per cent of the team within six months. Now we have a much stronger blend of experience in technology, business and working styles. “IS leaders have to be leaders of people first rather than being experts in the subject matter.