Will Big Data Change Hiring Practices For Animal Health Businesses In 2017?

4 min

Change is in the air for the Animal Health sector, as veterinary science and animal welfare continue to rapidly progress with the advent of new technologies. The good news is that these advances are accompanied with impressive growth figures. Future Market Insights projects that the global CAGR for Animal Healthcare will reach upwards of 5% by 2020 and reach a valuation of US$43 billion. Animal Health is witnessing a growing trend towards preventive healthcare, with farm owners investing in feed additives and periodic health check-ups of their livestock. This trend has really taken off in Asia Pacific, which is an increasingly lucrative region for the market.

The trend known as ‘pet humanisation’ has spread in recent years to Asia, especially in China, India, and Southeast Asian countries. This trend encompasses all of the ways in which we treat our pets like members of our own families (or in some cases, better than them!)

As is typical within Life Sciences, start-ups are at the cutting edge in terms of innovation and rapid progress. Start-ups are usually borne from individuals noticing an issue in the market and coming up with a solution, meaning that their teams are usually custom-built with a variety of skills to solve the issue. One such start-up, Rex Animal Health, have come up with a system to quickly identify and minimise risk of epidemics spreading in livestock, and to help with positive outcomes for selective breeding.

According to CEO Amado Guloy, his company started out as a way to help him manage his sick dog’s veterinary care. But the company’s vision now looks wider, conducting genomic and phenotype analysis to gives farmers “weather maps,” or epidemiological maps, showing which viruses, bacteria and other health problems are sweeping a region. The possibilities this opens up for prevention of epidemics and faster, more reactive, drugs being developed where problems do arise in Animal Health are endless.

Impact of Big Data Tech

In the UK, an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone has been in place since 6th December and has recently been extended until 28 February to help protect poultry and captive birds from avian flu as instances of H5N8 are cropping up in wild birds and backyard flocks across the UK.

Rex Animal Health has developed the first anti-biotic resistance map in the world, meaning that if animals are not responsive to treatments, successful alternatives can be found. The Prevention Zone period in the UK would likely be significantly shorter if poultry farmers and hobbyists had access to this kind of information as the cause would be easier to identify and isolate. This would be a great help for poultry farming as all poultry shows and gatherings have been banned until further notice.

And of course, as this technology becomes more ubiquitous, it will have clear benefits for animals from all walks of life. Preventing and tracking epidemics in livestock is important on a macro level, as it will prevent loss of life and money but on an individual basis, what about our pets?!  Zoetis, winners of Best Product Portfolio and Best New Companion Animal Product Winner 2016, have developed an app called Pet Dialog that works much like Rex’s software, but on a more personalised level.

It allows pet owners to keep all of their information on their pets in one place. Meals, walks, and unusual behaviours can all be logged, and the tool can even assess a pet’s quality of life, all at the click of a button. This will make potential issues easier to diagnose and prevent which will massively improve outcomes in cases of disease, behavioural difficulty, weight fluctuation etc. A pet’s profile can even be linked to the vet, allowing them to supervise an animal’s progress in a more comprehensive way.

Beyond that, Zoetis have developed Palladia (toceranib phosphate), the first drug to be FDA approved for treating mast cell cancer tumours in dogs and Simbadol (buprenorphine injection), the first and only FDA approved buprenorphine for cats which provides 24 hour surgical pain control.

Similarly, Aratana Therapeutics (named best company in North America 2016 by Animal Pharm) have successfully released 3 FDA approved drugs in 2016; Galliprant, which aims to help control the pain and inflammation in dogs with osteoarthritis, Entyce, a flavored, oral liquid prescription that helps stimulate appetite in dogs, and Nocita, a long-acting, local anesthetic that lasts as long as 72 hours post-surgery. This is coming off the back of a lucrative deal with Elanco, Eli Lilly and Co.'s animal health division who have been on the rise.

Both Rex and Zoetis are thought-leaders in this sector, and both have developed healthcare that tracks and adapts to the individual. Aratana have developed drugs that will improve the quality of life of un-well animals. With these developments happening all the time, how does the sector prevent a skills gap?

Hiring Outlook for 2017

It seems to me that Animal Health in general is moving towards a more integrated and unified approach to personalised healthcare that is tailored to the individual. But even the greatest new products won’t be a success unless their launch is properly managed. In turn, hiring managers will need to adopt a tailored approach to recruitment, ensuring their leadership is dynamic enough to respond to the challenges of a changing market.

Training and retention will be major priorities for Animal Health companies in 2017, as the people behind these exciting changes will likely move on as and when their roles become stagnant. Make your company one where they’ll feel properly valued, and you’ll find attracting high calibre individuals a much easier task. According to HR and hiring managers, offering career mobility increases employee engagement by 49%, improves employee productivity by 39% and improves employee teamwork by 39%. As the Director of Employee Experience at Cisco notes, “We no longer work in a one size fits all world. We are now creating one size fits one experiences that accelerate teams, individual performance and continuous learning”. As start-ups are at the cutting edge of the sector, the employees’ ability to adapt and grow will be crucial.

The CEO of Rex Animal Health started off in Pharma and carried over his experience of the positive effect of big data in Pharma to Animal Health. Following the Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator, Rex surpassed $1 million revenue over three months and immediately looked at hiring 10 employees. This indicates that in order to succeed, companies must invest in their workforce. Rex built a team of mathematicians, computer scientists and biologists in order to take a big data approach to Animal Health, allowing easy and comprehensive diagnosis, treatment and discoveries of new and alternative treatment methods to improve outcomes for animals and prevent losses to businesses.

The CEO of Zoetis has 20 years of experience in Pharma and 35 years’ experience of increasing responsibility in finance, commercial and management. This kind of innovative and creative problem solving and use of transferable skills will inform Life Sciences hiring practices for the future.

At CSG, we understand the needs of both companies and employees are changing constantly, and we ingrain ourselves in our sectors to ensure that we are up-to-date with hiring trends and the needs of our clients and candidates.