Novartis picks retail expert for new role of digital chief

LONDON (Reuters) - Novartis has appointed a senior retail expert to the new post of chief digital officer, following a similar move by GlaxoSmithKline last month, underscoring how drugmakers are grappling with the impact of new technology.

Pharmaceutical companies face a range of challenges from the digital world as mobile apps offer patients new ways to monitor their health and online communications with prescribers and consumers become routine.

Bertrand Bodson, currently chief digital and marketing officer for Sainsbury’s Argos chain, will start in his new role on Jan. 1, 2018, and report directly to CEO Joe Jimenez, the Swiss drugmaker said on Thursday.

He will be tasked with improving the way Novartis uses data in drug discovery and development, engages with patients, doctors and other stakeholders, as well as automating business processes. At Argos, Bodson helped turn a traditional catalogue business into Britain’s third-largest online retailer.

Former Wal-Mart Stores executive Karenann Terrell was appointed to the similar position of chief digital and technology officer at Britain’s GSK in July.

Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Mark Potter