From AI to Z: Real Time Business
With Real Value.

Shivani Saini
CIO, Asia Pacific
GSK Consumer Health

Talk about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and people start to think about movie portrayals of man vs. machine. But Shivani Saini of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) explains how AI is in everyday use already, and that its application in healthcare is anchored firmly in solving real-world business problems and delivering better results.

First things first. Identify the problem. Don’t jump straight to the solution

“Today AI is everywhere, that is true. We often don’t even realize we are using it. Look at, Smart assistants on our phones, simple photo taking, our social media feeds, taxi we ordered this morning, the video game we played in the afternoon, the programs we watched on Netflix last evening, and the smart home device we used to set the temperature in the night – the algorithm and recommendations are driven by AI. AI’s applications are varied, but, as with any tech solution, it shouldn’t be jumped to as the answer straight away,” says Saini. “It is critically important to firstly truly understand your business needs, your consumer needs, your employee needs, and look at ways to solve them – of which AI could be one route to take.”

As for how to harness diverse voices: “Comfort is one of the biggest challenges for women in technology. One of the best diversity practices that anybody can adopt at an individual, board or corporate level is ensuring freedom and comfort to individuals to come forward and be able to express their opinions. The moment you have that freedom, you will hear diverse voices.“

“Say that the average experience in a room is 20 years. Does a person with 5 years experience have the same comfort to be able to say what they’re thinking?”



Solving a business problem – GSK’s iStore in APAC

The model for many markets in Asia Pacific is that our GSK representatives visit the stores to educate about our products, take orders for selling and establish a positive relationship with the store owners. Previously a lot of time was being spent trying to work out factors such as which products and quantities to recommend for each store, what route plan to visit the store, and what are the true needs and potential of a store. The representative is overwhelmed with the amount of data related to do his or her job and then rely on guestimates”

“What if you take away the guess work, and build out a set of recommendations based on actual data points and trends?” says Saini.
The solution is the iStore, a predictive analytics solution that drives growth and brings insights at a store level.

With this the sales representative can focus on relationship building while their phones give them access to all the answers they need when it comes to questions such as what products to sell how much stock to recommend. The results are clear – since iStore was rolled out, not only has it helped reduce time spent, but this has given us multi million GBP uplift in sales.


Optimising in-store and online strategies using AI

Retail stores present a number of challenges, from standing out on shelf, to position in store, to paying for your ‘retail footprint’. At GSK, reps visit stores to ensure that products are being displayed prominently and to determine how much of a ‘footprint’ GSK actually has in a given store.

Previously a rep would take a picture of the shelf. That picture then went on to a database, and it could take months to validate or provide feedback.

By using image recognition software, images can be analysed in real time and instantaneous feedback is given. Sales representatives have therefore been able to improve in-store execution on the spot with “some stores seeing up to a 20% increase” in sales volume.

One of our most fascinating initiatives is an always-on communication platform powered by AI that delivers the right content to the consumers and health experts in the right channels and at the right moments. AI crawls the web and helps microsegment users by their behaviors. This enables GSK to craft appropriate content to the right target audiences. Once the right content is drafted, the AI system can also programmatically buys media and track attribution.



Taking the load off of the healthcare system

When it comes to consumer healthcare, one of the biggest challenges is the strain placed on healthcare systems. GSK is developing programmes that lighten the load on medical practitioners and help people ‘self-care’ for routine and every day care matters.

“In the consumer space, we’re already moving away from relying on doctors for every day issues, as that then frees them up to focus on more critical care. This means providing tools that help consumers understand basic health issues, and take greater control of their health day to day.”

“We are looking at how we can use wearables and create an ecosystem where different kinds of apps and devices can be used to understand and serve consumers more effectively.” Massive amounts of medical data are being analysed and understood using AI, so we can improve diagnosis, treatment techniques and patient outcomes.

“A good example is pain management. If there are sensors and tracking devices that monitor your nerves and pain levels, then you can make more informed decisions and optimise your pain management treatment.”



Working on making the future of healthcare a reality

With GSK clearly at the forefront of next generation healthcare, what qualities does Saini look for in prospective team members?

“I’m looking for people who are able to learn and adapt quickly. Self-starters with a start-up mindset who do things by themselves and who are not worried about getting their hands dirty to solve problems. The other requirement is simple: technical skills. You do have to know your chosen tech really, really well. The level of depth depends on what your role is. As a tech lead, you must understand how the solution or service fits into the business puzzle and how to maximise its value. At DevOps you need to know how to build, release, test and operate the solutions and services with the latest tools and methodologies. You will have to keep the tech skills fresh.” She laughs and says, “There is no getting away from constant learning!”

AI is an exciting focus area, but ultimately, we need to remember to anchor it in solving the right problems.

We close an invigorating discussion with her saying that, “The application of AI in a field like healthcare is critical to enable the world to ‘do more, feel better and live longer’, which is our mantra at GSK – to improve lives, live longer.”

Shivani Saini
CIO, Asia Pacific
GSK Consumer Health

Shivani Saini, CIO, Asia Pacific at GSK Consumer Health has been passionate about making IT a competitive business advantage for over 20 years.
She holds a patent for a web-based technology app and has implemented sweeping changes in Procter & Gamble and GSK Consumer Health. Team ThinkCIO had an opportunity to meet with her and discuss how to make IT tick for business, what it takes to be more than a CIO, and how to make ideas that are ahead of the times click.