Integrating a Seamless Product Experience
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Integrating a Seamless Product Experience

Silji Abraham, VP & CIO, MilliporeSigma
Silji Abraham, VP & CIO, MilliporeSigma

Silji Abraham, VP & CIO, MilliporeSigma

The Catalyst

In our business, technology plays a significant role of connecting our customers (millions of them) to us and offering a seamless experience from discovery to delivery of necessary products for their experiments. This starts with our leading e-commerce platform. With the power of this platform, we can enter a new country or geography in an accelerated timeline.

  ​IT is just part of the business today, and it will remain that way because the advancements in information technology will transform every industry for decades to come   

We’ve also made a significant impact harnessing the power of computing to solve major bioinformatics problems in our services business. Today, we are able to conduct Next Generation Sequencing based alignment studies to verify bio-safety needs for our customers, which normally took months to complete, in a few hours by using extreme parallel computing power we consume from cloud infrastructure.

The Spine of an Enterprise

An unparalleled supply chain and distribution infrastructure and an integrated technology platform that can manage the experience to our customers from discovery to delivery are very much the necessary backbones of our business. Obviously, other business functions have to work in tandem to deliver the promise to our customers every day with repeatability and predictability. A clear recognition of the importance of technology and its impact to our business comes from the President and CEO, Dr. Udit Batra, and that reflection resonates positively throughout the organization.

I also believe it is incredibly unreasonable to have a divide in this new world of technology where everyone speaks “business” and “IT” as two separate entities. I think it is time for the industry, market and pundits to recognize the divide between IT and business should no longer exist in any forward-thinking organizations. IT is just part of the business today, and it will remain that way because the advancements in information technology will transform every industry for decades to come.

IT’s New Role in Business Transformation

As I mentioned before, I think it is unreasonable to have this divide in organizations between business and IT. I am not sure how this divide originated, but it is time to speak differently about any progressive organization in the future.

Transformation and change in my mind are movements that start with leaders with extreme passion and curiosity, and then those get democratized in the organization. Out of my passion to simplify the experience of our enterprise for both external and internal customers, we began a journey to build the first real-time digital enterprise in the market. This is not about doing a process improvement in an isolated part of the business operations; this is about making the entire enterprise correlate in real time and providing a device-agnostic and application-agnostic experience to our users. With this transformation, we will enhance the experience from discovery to delivery for millions of individual customers in an incredible way.

A CIO's Responsibility Towards Enterprise Security

Security is not up for compromise and arbitration. It is extremely important in the connected world of today that exponentially grows every day. This is a high-risk, high-attention area for any CIO. Indeed, the organization needs dedicated leadership and resources that are wired to be vigilant and paranoid in a positive way. At the same time, it is important to apply common sense when dealing with security. I have seen some organizations cultivate a culture that uses security as a hindrance to innovation and collaboration in the enterprise; i.e., overreacting without understanding the principles of risk management.

Security is extremely important and an integral part of IT. It needs appropriate attention and investment and having a CSO in the organization makes sense. But having a disconnected organization doesn't help, especially when we remember how the market tried to separate infrastructure and applications a decade ago without seeing any benefit.

The Edge

My first reaction, if one is lucky to start as CIO in the life science industry, is that it is, indeed, one of the greatest (if not the best) industries in the market. IT cannot be a “back office” function. The business domain is technology driven and, hence, extreme domain competency is needed to support the business. The complexity of regulations and compliance and the high volume of transactions are basic expectations of this industry. But this is a fascinating industry with opportunities to make a difference, and it has been the best time in my professional life.

“The life science business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany operates as MilliporeSigma in the U.S. and Canada.”

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