IT Key to Creating New Opportunities: Kiran Shaw

by Manu Sharma    Jan 15, 2009

Dr. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is a pioneer in the true sense of the word. Shaw is recognized as the lady who laid the foundation of the biotech industry in India. Kiran may be the richest woman in India today, but she has more to her credit than just riches. Unlike many other celebrated industry leaders today, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is a first generation entrepreneur who has not inherited wealth or a sprawling business empire. She has created a globally recognized biotech industry right from scratch. Perhaps, the secret of her success has been her ability to take the beaten path. She studied brewery and became the first woman master brewer of the country at a time when women in such professions were frowned upon. She collaborated with Biocon Biochemicals Limited, Ireland, to found Biocon India in 1978.

Biocon has grown to be the biggest biopharmaceutical firm in India today. Dr. Shaw has also written a book on brewing titled Ale and Arty and has been the recipient of the prestigious national Padma Shri award in 1989. Ever the visionary, Dr. Shaw spoke about how technology impacts her industry in an exclusive interview with CXOtoday’s Manu Sharma. Excerpts from the interview.

What are the key factors that impact growth in your industry? How are you as a company responding to these challenges?
Growth in our organization is currently impacted by the large pharmaceutical companies’  intention to cut their IT spends and look at delivering cost effective drugs in the market.
Secondly, growth is also impacted by the shortage of large talent pool. Even though we have a number of scientists, we still need talented people who have specific skills to go to the next level.
Thirdly, the legislations and regulatory guidelines for bio similars or follow-on biologics are a challenge. If this happens in a positive way, then I am sure it will impact growth also in a positive way.  US President Barrack Obama’s plan to cut down costs in the healthcare sector will also impact the industry.

What has been impact of the US meltdown on your business? How are you coping with the current recessionary business climate?
In fact, the recession has impacted us in a positive way. We are experiencing a lot of growth especially in the R&D and bio similars space.

Over the last ten years large enterprises have automated their business processes and increased their efficiencies by deploying information technology, what has been your own experience in this regard?
Information Technology has a very important role to play. It is the backbone for any industry sector especially in the knowledge segment. In our industry, IT is already important in the areas of e-records. All regulators are demanding e-documentation of records. Also in the R&D sector, sharing of knowledge needs multi-sharing platforms and so a very sophisticated IT delivery platform is essential.

Moving forward do you see technology becoming increasingly critical to business success?
Going forward, I think technology has a significant role to play in developing new opportunities, new products and also new platforms. Technology is very important.

Do you pursue IT as a strategy or is it merely a tactical tool?
IT is a very important tool but can also be used as a strategy. If you want to look at predictions like development of new molecules i.e. what is likely to fail and succeed, I think IT is extensively being used as a mathematical model and also a prediction model. 

What are your expectations from your CIO/IT organization?
We work in a very integrated way. I think what is important is that the R&D team is extremely IT savvy like our marketing and sales team as also the rest of the staff.

Personally also, are you gadget-savvy? What are the gadgets you use?
I use my Blackberry a lot and so also my mobile phone besides my computer, but I am not a gizmo freak.