Fadem Gets Wyeth To Rethink IT

Pharmaceutical behemoth, known for underinvesting in technology, now uses it as a competitive advantage. -- Sidebar to: Wyeth Resolves To Aid Its Distributors

Tony Kontzer, Contributor

September 15, 2005

2 Min Read

InformationWeek 500 - Biotechnology & PharmaceuticalsIf anyone was ready to lead pharmaceutical giant Wyeth through the IT transformation that began in the late 1990s, it was Bruce Fadem. A veteran of 20 years in financial-services IT, including 12 years as the CIO of Bank of America's retail unit, Fadem came to Wyeth in 1995 as IT head for Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories. The IT landscape in his new surroundings looked eerily familiar.

"When I came to Wyeth, the pharmaceutical industry couldn't be called aggressive in its investment or sophistication in terms of its use of information technology," Fadem recalls. The company was notorious for underinvesting in technology, and this approach to IT forced Fadem into quick action even before taking over the CIO post in 1997. "One of my predecessors told me that the only metric he was measuring as an IT manager was absolute cost," he says. "One of the first things I had to do was influence the company to change its perspective on investment in information technology."

A decade later, Fadem has transformed IT at Wyeth from a languishing cost center into a competitive differentiator. One of the most important moves was to standardize its U.S. pharmaceutical operations on SAP R/3 enterprise-resource-planning software, creating a common platform that the company is using to do things like create comprehensive scorecards that keep it and its customers up-to-date on the state of the supply chain.

"He's led a balanced charge to get us where we need to be," says Jim Schwaninger, a senior director who oversees Wyeth's global data warehouse and finance applications. "Now we have globally integrated enterprise suites, a wide area network, and all the things needed to deploy this new generation of applications."

Considering his cross-industry history, will Fadem look around one day, and decide it's time to go transform a company in some other industry? Not likely, says Fadem: "The challenges and opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry will certainly keep my attention."

Illustration By Paul Watson

Return to the story:
Wyeth Resolves To Aid Its Distributors

Continue to Biotechnology & Pharmaceuticals:
Getting A Dose Of Cost Cutting

Return to the 2005 InformationWeek 500 homepage

About the Author(s)

Never Miss a Beat: Get a snapshot of the issues affecting the IT industry straight to your inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights