DOI 10.14707/ajbr.210115

Digital Transformation Challenges in the Sales of Pharmaceutical Companies in Japan

Qinxian Liu 1*; Yaxin Zhao 1; Taro Kamioka 1 and Michihiko Nakamura 2
1 School of Business Administration, Hitotsubashi University, Japan
2 Real-World & Analytics Solutions, Strategy Office, IQVIA Solutions Japan K.K., Japan
*Corresponding author:


While the pharmaceutical industry is rated as having less digital maturity than other industries, the changing environment, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has been giving momentum to the rise of digital transformation (DT). This study explored the current status and background of DT on sales and how DT has been promoted in Japan based on 20 interviews with leaders and consultants in the pharmaceutical industry. The results showed that while their DT was still at an early stage, DT had been driven by external factors, including the pandemic, with commitment from top management. We identified four changing external factors and nine initiatives in relation to the new activities: three in the practical stage and six in the developing stage. An interesting aspect was that regulations might both promote and hinder DT in this industry combined with COVID-19. As there has been limited domain-specific research in DT of the pharmaceutical industry in Asia, the study is considered to contribute to both academic research and practice in Asian business.

Keywords: Digital transformation, Pharmaceutical company, Sales, Government regulation, COVID-19.

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