Adoption of Talent Tech in Life Science

James Hochreutiner takes a closer look at how slow adoption of talent technology could hold back progress across the Life Science industry.

October 14, 2019

By James Hochreutiner,  Vice President, Global Solutions, KellyOCG

We often think of Life Science as an incredibly fast-paced sector, producing new discoveries and technologies at an astonishing rate. Although this is true when we consider life-changing research and development, it’s not always the case when we look at wider organizational efficiency. A 2018 report from Deloitte and MIT Sloan Management Review found that only 20% of biopharma companies were rated as digitally mature, with 25% in the early stages of development and 55% developing capabilities. But what does this mean for their talent outlook? For many, there is still a way to go when it comes to building a digitally-advanced talent management approach. I take a closer look at the current landscape and how Life Science organizations can take bigger steps towards talent tech adoption, below.

The Not-So-Paperless Office

One of the biggest barriers my Life Science clients face is the management and visibility of their contingent workers. Often, SOW and other contractors are dealt with in different ways in different locations, with paper processing and the postal system still playing a part in how large swathes of the contingent workforce are engaged. Of course, this is not always the case, but it remains a significant bugbear as we prepare to enter the third decade of the 21st century. The potential for talent tech implementation and for streamlining processes are huge, but the complexity of being an early adopter can be overwhelming.

Barriers to Adoption

As above, complexity is one of the biggest reasons that large Life Science organizations delay the adoption of technological solutions to talent headaches. The task of streamlining a process across multiple sites around the world, creating flexible online frameworks and adjusting these for local legal and language specifications is no small task – it takes an enormous amount of work at the back end. It also means choosing and purchasing the right digital solution. However, investment of time and money is a vital step in becoming a digitally savvy employer. Short term pain is, in this case, absolutely worth the long-term gains in the form of return on investment. Decreased spending and decreased time spent on repetitive tasks have the potential to drive significant savings and put a Life Science organization ahead of the competition.

What’s Next?

Where do we go from here? The truth is that some Life Science organizations are already leading the way, investing to create talent management functions that support a streamlined and efficient approach. While those who have yet to push forward with digital transformation run the risk of falling too far behind to catch up. There is also pressure on technology providers to create user-centric, fit-for-purpose solutions that are flexible enough to meet the needs of this uniquely complex market. To this end, we are seeing some start-ups begin to fill in the holes in services provided by the larger tech names. We all have a responsibility to champion this drive for tech innovation. Yes, it can be painful and expensive, but the alternative is becoming stuck in an inefficient past.  

Embracing the right talent technology to enable your organization to manage Life Sciences talent smartly may always feel like a job to put off until tomorrow. But it shouldn’t be – if you’re not already transforming, you’re running out of time.


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