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Digital Upskilling


Archaic ways of working need to make way for more agile and nimble response mechanisms enabled by a systematic enterprise-wide digital upskilling strategy, writes Anand Kiran.

Anand Kiran

In the wake of dynamic business requirements, learning and development is no longer confined to classroom training sessions or in-house portals. The emergence of online upskilling and learning platforms heralds a shift to self-learning to be relevant, productive, and aligned to enterprise goals. Employees may draft a curriculum to fit their needs and engage with the content at the place and time of their choosing. The vertical lift in valuations of edutech companies is a validation for this megatrend. The challenge, however, is that these mass open online courses are not able to address specific and nuanced learning needs for the pharma industry. There are further variations in learning needs by the type of employees ranging from sales representatives, medical service laisons (MSLs), account managers, office-based staff, leadership etc. So far, Learning and Development (L&D) departments have created bespoke content in partnership with external vendors to fill learning gaps or address opportunities for personal growth. But this approach remains restrictive in scope, coverage, application, and measurement. 

Physicians and patients expect the pharma industry to be responsive and responsible to enable dispensing of early treatment and effective outcomes. The current COVID-19 crisis is a case to the point. Industry is scrambling to find solutions at all levels – from testing to treating, production and shipment of medical accessories for frontline medical staff and so on. Design and interpretation of clinical trials data, integrating real world data, for example, for faster turnaround to the pandemic calls for an overhauling of skills for pharma professionals and this cuts across all levels. The archaic ways of working and the legacy systems need to make way for more agile and nimble response mechanisms enabled by a systematic enterprise-wide digital upskilling strategy. 

Topics need to be specifically curated to address immediate needs. Pharma professionals need better understanding of the subsets of AI such as machine learning (ML) and deep learning, need to recognize the types of ML and process automation, and describe the various natural language technologies. Courses providing information on code of conduct and compliant interactions with healthcare professionals and review of promotional materials will play a significant role in bringing agility to the product commercialization teams. For freshers, courses on anatomy and physiology for better understanding of disease and drug action will be a bonus. 

A microlearning initiative of this type with compelling visuals, interactivities, multimedia, real-world scenario-based examples, and instructional design for domain-specific learning will engage, inspire, upskill, and empower the workforce. Certification post-completion of each course with well-defined measurement metric and repeat courses if needed, will enable L&D teams to track learning progress and effective application in real world scenarios. 

Anand Kiran is EVP at Indegene.




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