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Case Study
The better the question The better the answer The better the world works
Case Study

What going digital means for Takeda

Takeda Business Solutions (TBS) fast-tracked its digitalization evolution through an innovative top-down and bottom-up journey.

Case Study
The better the question The better the answer The better the world works
Case Study

Should digital transformation be top-down or bottom-up?

Takeda wanted to explore a hot topic for many organizations: how to execute digital transformation.

Takeda, headquartered in Japan, is a leading global biopharmaceutical company, one of the largest in Asia and among the top 15 globally by revenue.

Takeda’s global CFO, Costa Saroukos, shaped the vision for finance in which employees “deliver insights and drive value for patients.” He described the priorities as “partnering with the business to reallocate resources so we can deliver on our financial commitments and drive efficiencies across the organization through data and automation.”

Following its sizeable acquisition of, and subsequent integration with, Shire Pharmaceuticals in 2018, Takeda needed to rapidly accelerate its digital transformation. This is a focus that is reflected in its Corporate Philosophy, in which a key imperative is “unleashing the power of data and digital.”

Takeda Business Solutions (TBS) is a key business partner and enabler of Takeda’s finance vision. It provides simplified and innovative solutions across finance, procurement and human resources. The value TBS creates is freeing up time, so employees can focus on operations that better serve patients. TBS does so with a clear focus on creating exceptional people experiences where its stakeholders feel supported and confident in its solutions.

Costa Saroukos and the newly appointed Senior VP & Global Head of TBS, Sanjay Patel, shared a vision of fostering a culture of digital literacy and citizen-driven innovation that would enable Takeda to deliver on its commitments. To realize this vision, TBS partnered with IT to build an innovation hub to introduce digital solutions, artificial intelligence, robotics, automation and analytics.

This emerging focus on data and being digital-first culminated in an award-winning application – CFOInUrpocket™, a global finance reporting and analytics platform that gives every relevant employee direct access to data and analytical tools via their laptop, smartphone or tablet. And rather than follow the industry trend of outsourcing, the solution was developed leveraging in-house capabilities.

Embarking on that value creation journey, Patel chose an unconventional approach to leapfrog the digital journey. He used a considered balance of top-down classic approach, implementing and embedding the latest technologies and a less traditional bottom-up approach, socializing and democratizing technology throughout the organization. The outcome was surprising.

The focus on being digital-first generated results quickly. A global finance reporting and analytics application was built to give relevant employees direct access to data.

Male scientist looking though microscope
Case Study
The better the question The better the answer The better the world works
Case Study

Starting the digital journey by choice, not by chance

In every challenge, a greater opportunity awaits.

Assessing the landscape and issues at hand

In September 2019, the finance and TBS leadership teams attended an EY-hosted “CFO Space” workshop in Frankfurt to look at “the art of the possible” in finance. Mike Zingg, CFO, SVP Takeda Global Manufacturing, Supply and Quality, attended the session: “Our objective was to move transactional finance activities out of sites and global functions, and to focus on forward-looking, value-adding, strategic finance business partnering,” says Zingg. The overall objective of this CFO Space session was to understand how digital was disrupting finance and how Takeda could best leverage what others had successfully done.

The CFO workshop opened the field wide for TBS to look at data and digital, not just in terms of working capital, cost and cash – but vision and improved people experience.

Following the workshop, in January 2020, Sanjay Patel sponsored a three-day immersive lab with the automation technology provider UiPath and EY teams in Bucharest, kickstarting the beginning of the digital journey. The lab helped attendees address some of the process challenges they were grappling with. “The heavy lifting for finance was the heterogeneous processes and differences in data structure and governance across legacy systems and multiple instances,” says Zingg. “It was a major challenge to harmonise data before handing it over to TBS.”

Creating a roadmap forward

After the CFO workshop and the immersive lab, the TBS team co-created an automation roadmap for TBS. The ambition was to scale up automation within TBS but also to democratize it for a larger group of stakeholders across the entire Takeda organization.

The project was executed in a series of sprints over 90 days, and rather than creating an expert team around the technology, the team around Patel focused on embedding and uplifting digital skills among employees in different areas of Takeda. One of the initiatives was a gamified “digital champions” concept to disseminate awareness and skills in digital, making it challenging and fun to unlock the full automation potential. The first cohort of 21 digital champions joined the program in April 2020, quickly creating buzz across the entire organization and landing placement in Wired and Nikkei.

“We’ve always wanted to democratize technology and innovation to make sure everyone is educated and can benefit from the opportunities it provides,” says Vanessa Gleason, Vice President, TBS Strategy, Process Excellence, and Innovation at Takeda. TBS introduced additional learnings across technologies including Power BI, as well as Agile Methodology, video creation and presentation skills.

An Artificial Intelligence Discovery series also trained employees in AI as a concept and its capabilities, as well as how it applies to their work. The series gave employees the skills needed to identify fresh opportunities to leverage RPA and AI. This culminated in an “AI Ideathon,” which generated a pipeline of 190 ideas. Six were then shortlisted for an “AI Dragon’s Den”, in which employees presented their ideas for entry to the next round, and three were identified for prioritization by the business.

A pipeline of


ideas were generated after an "AI Ideathon."

Being reactive to external challenges

In early 2020, the finance organization received an unexpected opportunity to explore the potential for greater efficiency and value for patients. A TBS provider of scanning optical character reader (OCR) technology was impacted by the first COVID-19 lockdown, and people did not show up for work. It quickly became clear that the provider’s process did not have an immediate backup plan for a situation of this magnitude and relied, to a large degree, on human capital. Broken or inefficient processes can risk delayed payments and strained supplier relationships, which in turn risks patient access to medication. The lockdown immediately started affecting invoice processing, putting the patient journey at risk.

TBS had to react fast. TBS implemented a state-of-the-art intelligent OCR capable of making the invoice-to-pay process touchless. 

High angle view of old machine part
Case Study
The better the question The better the answer The better the world works
Case Study

Digital and data democratized

Digital now belongs to everyone, with processes, new roles and an automation use case pipeline.

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