When Sands says that Novartis's shift toward digital strategies required changing the entire company, she isn't kidding. It started three years ago, she says, with the CEO's decision to move from laptops to iPads and, in the process, "bring all customer-facing teams into the future." The resulting interface, called Launchpad, "is a dashboard as intuitive as a car or a newspaper," Sands says. It can tell Novartis staffers "what's trending, what's wearing out, what combination of messages is working and the best ways to tell a story. It's transformed how we act in the company, helping to bring the voice of the field force into everything that we do."
Launchpad has also revolutionized the pharma giant's approach to customers, extending to a new app for patients with COPD that utilizes internal sensors on mobile phones. And while Novartis continues to examine the potential of wearables, the company is "much more focused on invisibles," Sands quips. "People are lazy by nature, and these invisibles are medically more accurate and cheaper." —Sarah Mahoney