Embedding data and digital in our operations

We use technology to drive greater efficiency and cost savings across our operations. For example, a platform in our manufacturing operations called SpotOn Insights Center provides multiple digital solutions to help maximize economy of scale, reduce throughput times and optimize inventories. One of these solutions already helps 18 production sites to optimize finished goods supply chains for more than 400 of our products.

In addition, we are automating core operational processes at scale by deploying robot cognitive automation – also known as “bots” – across our Customer & Technology Solutions organization. One example is an intelligent assistant that automates large parts of the writing of medical reports. Bots are also helping to resolve (either partially or fully) approximately 80% of user requests to our enterprise-wide IT helpdesk.

We promote training opportunities to develop digital skills among our employees. We have expanded our data science training and mentoring programs, which we launched in 2020. We have also invested in a learning platform for data science coding skills, which has been used by over 850 employees who spent a total of over 11 000 hours on the platform in 2021. For more examples of our progress in building digital skills across Novartis, please see the section “Unleash the power of our people.”

Using data and AI responsi­bly and securely

In 2021, we completed the rollout of a new data management process – covering the entire data life cycle – to accelerate our digital transformation while ensuring data privacy. The new process spans nearly 5 million data sets, covering functions including R&D, finance, operations and procurement. Each domain has a data owner who is responsible for making their data available to the enterprise with the right quality and traceability, while also ensuring correct usage. These leaders are working together to unify data governance and processes across the organization and ensure that data is a strategic reusable asset for the company.

In 2021, we published our commitment to the ethical and responsible use of artificial intelligence

The use of new technologies such as AI creates new ethical questions, including how to avoid biases in data. In 2021, we published our commitment to the ethical and responsible use of AI to show the steps we are taking to be transparent, responsible and respectful of human rights in our use of AI. We created these guidelines in collaboration with leading ethicists from the International Bioethics Advisory Committee, and specialists in AI and data privacy. The position outlines our commitment to data privacy, security, accountability and environmental sustainability. We are taking steps to integrate these principles across the organization.

Effective cybersecurity

We have robust governance, policies and systems in place to ensure the security of our data and IT systems, including Board-level oversight of cybersecurity through the Risk Committee, and management-level responsibility through our Chief Information Security Officer. Novartis did not experience any material cybersecurity incidents in 2021.

To prevent system interruptions, we have business continuity plans that we test at least every six months. We conduct internal vulnerability analyses as well as external testing via a third party to ensure the effectiveness of our controls.

The Novartis Global Information Management Policy is available to all employees via the Novartis intranet. We include cybersecurity in our Code of Ethics commitments and require suppliers to implement organizational security policies and standards.