Aspiring to Create, Improve and Prolong Life at EMD Serono

Aspiring to Create, Improve and Prolong Life at EMD Serono

Eduardo Fabiano, Head of IT for North America and Global Innovative Franchises at EMD Serono, explores strategies at the intersection of IT and healthcare

Eduardo Fabiano is the Head of IT for North America and Global Innovative Franchises at EMD Serono, whose core mission is to help create, improve and prolong life, especially aimed at patients with conditions that are difficult to treat, such as infertility, multiple sclerosis and cancer. 

He and his team work to enable technological systems and processes that will help employees across EMD Serono better deliver for patients who are battling difficult-to-treat-conditions. 

Eduardo’s role covers the US and Canada, where he is at the intersection between IT and healthcare. 

“Those are very good areas to be in, as it changes frequently. It's very exciting,” Eduardo says. With new health technologies coming out so frequently, Eduardo is kept on his toes. 

He continues: “The IT of today is very different from the IT when I started my career. On the healthcare side, my team and I help people and everything we do has a positive impact on the people who use our products.”

In his professional life, Eduardo’s proudest achievement is the team he has built, forming a team that works well together and understands the goals of the organisation — a feat not easy to achieve. 

Recently, EMD Serono conducted an employee engagement survey. Eduardo’s team had a 93% score, one of the highest in the organisation. 

“I'm very happy with the team that I have and how they operate,” he says. “When people are engaged, they work well with each other.”

IT and technology strategies in healthcare

Eduardo is clear that having sturdy IT strategies is essential, to make sure that everyone is marching in the same direction. 

“At a large company like ours, sometimes it's hard to make sure everyone follows one path,” says Eduardo. “There's a lot of different sectors at  Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and in healthcare we work across 150 countries. We must ensure that what we do for North America is specific for the region, while aligning with the global strategy. 

“The number one tagline in our strategy is to be the partner of choice,” explains Eduardo. “It's very easy for people to go and look for IT services outside of the company, but we want them to come to us. So, when they have an IT need, we know we can help. That's what we strive for, to be the partner of choice.”

As a result of this commitment, having a strong customer experience focus is a core part of Eduardo’s daily work.

As a member of the US Leadership Team, Eduardo – along with his peers and with the President of EMD Serono, Chris Round - have to understand where the company is going, its goals and customer concerns. It's not just about rolling out technology, but rolling out technology together with the business, in a manner that will help them achieve their goals. 

“We want to enable the business and the only way to do that is by having a seat at the table,” he shares. “You don't need to wait for an invitation, you need to go there and you need to understand what everyone's trying to do and have a business mindset. The only way to do that is by having this customer focus.”

This is key to get a good Return on Investment (ROI). Meanwhile, automation technology has been used for commercial success in the business to reduce costs.

“We have very precise calculations with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake,” Eduardo explains. “You can’t simply rely on traditional spreadsheet software. You need a robust system in the background and you need people who understand exactly what the system does.” 

Recently, leveraging AI, Eduardo and his team were able to automate certain activities that helped the business save more than a staggering US$10m a month. On the other side, with marketing campaigns and websites, technology can be leveraged to make sales reps jobs’ easier — and therefore, help patients. 

“At EMD Serono, we focus on our patients, and we in IT always make sure our systems are robust, secure and modern, to safeguard this important data and provide our users the latest technologies,” he adds.

Like most companies, EMD Serono has plans to utilise Gen AI in its work. 

“I think everyone's talking about Gen AI,” Eduardo jests. “It’s such a loaded topic. Let’s start with an analogy: When a skydiver jumps off a plane, they have three choices. One, open the parachute. Two, don't open the parachute. Three, not make a decision. With Gen AI, if you don’t make a decision, it will be made for you.”

With Gen AI, both training and change management are important. Once it is understood where the business is trying to go with it, then the game is on to try and find the tools that can make lives better.

“Another mistake could be to try to do too much at the same time,” Eduardo cautions. “Everyone else’s budget is limited, so you want to invest in the area where it makes the most sense and you get the most ROI. Unlike other areas, I feel that with Gen AI, the choices are Make, Buy, or Wait”.

Businesses are faced with the option to wait till something is available, or to make it themselves. Sometimes the only solution is too expensive and then in six months, it becomes a lot cheaper. There is a need to balance all of this. 

“You need to figure out what's going to be your strategy. Sometimes waiting is not an option. In a country like the US where the environment is very competitive and your competitors are rolling out these solutions, you can't wait too long,” he warns. “You want to be first in line to deploy some of these solutions, to differentiate from others, otherwise you're going to be too late to the party. So, again, it is a delicate balancing act.”

For the industry as a whole, IT is constantly evolving and Gen AI is more than a buzzword - and something that is here to stay. 

“We can expect a lot more coming out of Gen AI. I have never seen the business so interested in a new technology as they are with this. So, I think we can expect to unlock a lot more possibilities in the future with Gen AI.”

Eduardo places extreme importance on good quality data in his work, as well as in cleansing data, which is where Gen AI steps in.

The importance of good quality data and cleansing data

EMD Serono is spending a lot of effort on cleaning the data it sources. In a three year programme, the company is upgrading the technology that it has, to better manage that data.

“We're in year two of this three year programme to clean the data,” he explains. “This means when you actually deploy things like Gen AI, you have the results you would expect. Then sometimes, these are the less attractive areas to work on. To be successful, you have to have good data.”

“We've also been partnering with CGI, who have been great at understanding our data and our business processes. CGI helps us to clean our data up and helps us to utilise the right technology.”

CGI is one of the largest IT and business consulting services firms in the world and has helped manufacturers seize the opportunities of change for over four decades.

In some cases, EMD Serono is completely overhauling its systems, like its data warehouse systems. In other areas, the company is relying on automation to clean some of the data. 

Eduardo believes in partnering with different IT companies to get an outside view of EMD Serono’s operations. 

“Sometimes you get a little bit bogged down by looking at what's only in the company you work for and risk missing something,” he explains. “This is where these partners can bring strategic value. They help you find easier ways to achieve whatever you're trying to accomplish.”

EMD Serono has several extraordinary partners it can rely on, one being Model N. Based in San Mateo, California, Model N was founded in 1999 and is committed to supporting its customers in building life-changing products through comprehensive visibility. The software development company is a leader in revenue optimisation in the pharmaceutical sector. Its intelligent platform powers digital transformation by using integrated technology, data and analytics.

Model N has been critical to EMD Serono’s revenue management. 

“We've been working with Model N for more than 10 years, in particular in the US Contract Management and Revenue Management area,” explains Eduardo. “We have recently migrated our on-site instance to the cloud without any issues and we are planning to continue working with them.” Model N enabled technology which let EMD Serono simplify its infrastructure by decommissioning an on-premise solution that it had previously. 

“Model N not only understands the industry and what needs to be done, but they also understand our company,” says Eduardo.

Another partner is Texas-based recruiter RightStone. The company was founded in 1996 and has built up a firm grasp on common IT issues and provides an in-depth understanding of how to source the highly skilled talent, with a focus on building trusted relationships with clients.

“RightStone has always provided top quality resources, understood our industry and are willing to roll up their sleeves and get the job done on time, on quality and on budget,” says Eduardo.

In areas such as EMD Serono’s patient support programmes, this is an area where the information is so critical.

“When you manage patients’ data, you need to have the right expertise. You can't just gamble with a new company every year,” he says. 

Salesforce is another organisation we work with in both a technology capacity and as a strategic advisor. EMD Serono relies on Salesforce to give them a solid and secure foundation for their patient support programmes."

“In the US, one of the areas where we rely on Salesforce is to have a foundation that is flexible enough to make changes. Salesforce has such a wide range of technical solutions that you can implement in the system you've built that you don't feel limited. There's nothing you can’t do with this foundation. It's very versatile and they're always inventing new things, so we're very happy to work with them. We are also currently exploring the impact GenAI can have on our patient support programmes and we're very excited to see where that takes us.

“Merck KGaA Darmstadt, Germany is aiming to launch one new drug every 18 months. We are continuously working to support the business in that mission and to support the growth of this company.”

In the US, Eduardo is relocating offices. Right now, the team is in Rockland, Massachusetts, and will soon move to the Seaport, an attractive area in Boston — a move he foresees being critical in the business achieving its expected growth.

“After all, when staff are engaged, they work well together.”

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EMD Serono, Inc.
EMD Serono, Inc.
EMD Serono, Inc.
EMD Serono, Inc.
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