Jayakrishnan M

3 Key IT Challenges: Cybersecurity, Operations, and Talent Retention — The Race is On!

Jayakrishnan M - Associate Director, IT - Novartis (Advanced Analytics)

The Challenge: The roles and responsibilities of an IT professional go above and beyond what meets the eye. This is especially true for IT Director, Jayakrishnan M and his team at Novartis, who are tasked with transitioning data management & digital platforms, optimizing IT operations, and ensuring regulatory and cyber security compliance standards simultaneously. In the quest to create new medicine, Team IT Novartis have to re-imagine their priorities as well in terms of solutions and productivity.


Journeying from service management to technology implementation

I kickstarted my career working with Intelligent Traffic Systems to managing service information platforms at Unilever; I recently joined Novartis as an associate director for service transitions. Our primary focus is to implement big data, data science, and niche digital technologies (OR Data & Analytic Technologies) for our business and drive their operations in business as usual.

Identifying challenges is always the starting point for IT

In today's world, where cyberattacks are rampant, our top priority is the safety and security of our organization's information. We understand that with digital transformation and cloud adoption, the IT landscape is constantly evolving, making IT operations nearly as critical in importance. Having said that, the transformative changes we have put forth will only come to fruition if we optimize our processes and standard operating procedures wholeheartedly.

We are faced with several challenges of varying sizes and complexity levels in our day-to-day work life, for instance, data management. But for me, the biggest setback lies in managing the skill gap and retaining talented individuals. It's a fact that without the right people, even the most advanced technology won't be enough to shield us against the emotional and financial impact of a cyberattack or data breach. Hence, we are committed to taking proactive steps to ensure our organization remains safe and secure. It goes without saying that we will continue to invest in our people, technology, and processes to stay one step ahead of the threats that surround the IT landscape.

Big decisions, new medicines, and IT priorities

Last year, Novartis made big decisions, such as spinning off Sandoz and crossing barrier-breaking milestones with new-generation nuclear medicines such as Pluvicto. Instead of implementing individual processes, the internal IT organization and supporting teams are reimagining priorities to promote productivity, and innovation and support the changing business model. A heavy reliance on data management and AI is called for by the new launches, and Novartis remains focused on using these technologies in an ethical and responsible manner. Recent key implementations by the IT Ops team have supported the major themes of becoming leaner and more efficient, transforming for growth, and converting individual processes into holistic experiences.

Bagging gold with DDIT – (Data, Digital & IT)

The IT function of Novartis, also known as DDIT (Data, Digital, & IT), adheres to the gold standards of Global Business Services to enhance competitive advantage and drive agility. Our model has enabled cost-efficient and scaled delivery of operations, and we have successfully evolved to generate leverage in changing business models.

Our simplified structure from 2022 merges Technical Operations and Customer and Technology Solutions units to create a stronger and simpler Operations unit. This allows us to accelerate technology transformations, create digital solutions at scale, and increase productivity while maintaining industry-leading quality and service levels.

The brilliance of IT coupled with AI

Last year alone, Novartis manufactured over 72 billion treatments. The computing power that grew in IT, using cloud journeys and edge computing, would have played an irreplaceable role in achieving this. As we transform to become a top innovative medicine company focused on research and development in 2023, IT areas of focus, such as extended realities and advanced AI, will be of great interest. As an IT professional, my focus will be to learn and stay current on the rapid adaptation of technology to changing business needs and enable teams to make the most of it during our journey.

Tackling Log4J at its core

We formed a 24/7 central war room that operated for three weeks to ensure our data’s safety, and hundreds of people supported us during this holiday period. It demonstrated the strength and resilience of Unilever and many other global organizations to handle such events. We should be on guard to secure our data against such attacks, which occur in the count of millions and hit defense mechanisms every hour, even now as we speak.

Diversity and inclusion are the heart and soul of IT

A specific achievement of last year was self-realization rather than technical growth. The time that I spent with companies like Unilever (and now Novartis) has instilled values like diversity and inclusion at the center of my passion for growth. I had the opportunity to be a part of a few sessions where we spoke to schoolgirls in remote villages about what is happening in the IT industry and how it can be a great place to empower themselves. Together, we can make huge contributions toward addressing this.

Celebrating diversity and promoting dialogue in such villages was made possible with the virtual conferencing improvements we achieved in the last 2 years. I am passionate about exploring more in this space in 2023 as well.

Advancements in technology will create a lot of jobs, and growing connectivity in India will provide many of us from diverse backgrounds to be a part of that journey. Since the beginning of the year, I have been a part of the HBA ambassador program, which aims to ensure gender parity in leadership roles in life science organizations and more.

IT offerings in 2023

As I reflect on the road ahead, I am filled with conflicting feelings of excitement and apprehension. Our business goals demand that we push ourselves to the limit, and we must be lean and agile to achieve success. Optimizing ourselves continuously in the unfamiliar territory of the future will be our most important goal and challenge at the same time. I would love to see the trend of embracing the latest technologies continue while maintaining ethical practices in AI. We are strengthening our arsenal to aggressively seek transformation while upholding values such as diversity, inclusion, and integrity.

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