Starting next year, about 10,000 sales employees working at Novartis AG, a drug manufacturer, will know the ideal way to organize their time each morning thanks to the company’s artificial intelligence program.
The project, which is intended for assessing prescribing patterns and assisting sales employees in determining when to visit doctors, serves as part of Vas Narasimhan’s vision to revolutionize Novartis as well as catch up with those counterparts that have already bolstered their productivity.
At only 41 years, Vas Narasimhan is the youngest executive in big pharma. He draws his remarkable inspiration from nimble tech companies. Vas taps data to reduce Novartis rate of failure and narrow down its focus on revolutionary drugs. Aside from rejecting the company’s past model, he is also shunning the existing quiet corner office and instead opts for an open space environment.
In a recent interview, Vas Narasimhan said that his goal is to achieve top-down cultural revolution from a more autocratic company to a more empowered organization that would be better placed to identify innovative solutions.
He took over from Joe Jimenez back in February and intends to make the Switzerland-based company more competitive during a time when the cost of developing new drugs is constantly rising while the industry’s return on investing are dropping.
Vas Narasimhan also aims at rebuilding Novartis’s reputation after reports earlier this year suggested that the drug maker paid a whopping $1.2 million to Donald Trump’s lawyer as well as past allegations regarding improper sales activities. He said that the largest area for improvement at Novartis is the tone in leadership, particularly making it clear that the company speaks in one voice.
Novartis’s CEO is talking action intended to not only reinforce ethics but also manage risk. In May, Narasimhan stated that the drugmaker made a mistake in recruiting lawyer Michael Cohen, which was a move made before he took over as the company’s CEO.
Nevertheless, he highlighted technology’s role in that area, especially with Novartis looking forward to developing early warning systems via artificial intelligence, in a bid to avert missteps.
Drawing knowledge from Airbus SE and Boeing Co. approach of monitoring engine and plane performance, Novartis has created an operations center to evaluate over 500 clinical trials in real time. According to Narasimhan, this undertaking has enabled the company to forecast enrollment, evaluate costs and ensure quality. The sales force team will receive an email or text from the AI program to aid them in planning their time.
Narasimhan is currently recruiting from the technology industry and is joining forces with partners in various fields including mobile apps and AI as well as shifting away from desks. Unlike the previous boss, the new CEO does not work from the confines of the provided private office.
Novartis’s new boss intends to develop further the drugmaker’s revolutionary $475,000 cancer treatment Kymriah while expanding gene therapies to cure flaws in DNA that result in devastating issues. Last year’s Bloomberg Intelligence analysis of R&D returns belonging to 13 pharmaceutical companies ranked Novartis at the 13th spot.