In brief

In brief

  • A future of interconnected labs, brought together and powered by waves of advances in digital technologies, will turn the tide of innovation.
  • Accenture surveyed 128 life sciences industry leaders to better understand digital transformation in the lab.
  • Our results found that while thousands of labs are dedicated to bringing new therapies to patients, most—and the tools in them—remain disconnected.
  • This report shares key enablers for connecting labs, areas of focus for innovation, and steps to chart your own course to digital lab excellence.

Are labs keeping up with innovation?

The pace of innovation in life sciences is accelerating, and significant investment needs to be made for the laboratory to keep up. The priority? Transforming labs to become digitally enabled, globally connected powerhouses capable of breakthrough innovation at scale.

And yet, Accenture research found that, of 128 industry leaders surveyed, 40% had not embarked on applying digital to research and development or quality control labs.

About the research

We asked 128 leaders in the life sciences industry to tell us where they are in their digital transformation journeys. Our respondents included:


of respondents were Director-level or higher.


were in either executive management or R&D management.


work for sponsors, while 8% work for a medical device manufacturer and 6% for a CRO.


of respondents’ primary responsibility was preclinical development, while 26% were early research/discovery, 20% manufacturing and 2% clinical development.

Running aground in the pilot phase

Where are life sciences companies in their digital journey? Our research found that 60% are deploying digital as follows:


are piloting—and 63% of those companies have been piloting for six months or more, showing organizations are getting stuck in the pilot stage.


are scaling up. 70% of these companies view their efforts as successful or extremely successful, indicating that those who scale up are realizing real business benefit.


already have digital technologies in widespread use.

The digital lab of the future

The modern digital lab will truly transform how innovative biopharma products are created.

Automation in R&D

Within the research and development lab, previously inaccessible complex and miniaturized assays will become routine and fully automated.

Extended reality in QC

In the quality control lab, the use of extended reality (XR) will become commonplace to facilitate tech transfer, train and provide technical support on new methods.

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Chart your course to digital transformation

To be a leader in this new data-driven world, life sciences companies must fundamentally transform how they create, manage, and effectively use all the data that is generated in labs across their ecosystem—from internal labs to the many partners with whom they collaborate—to become a truly data-driven “digitally transformed lab.”

There are three clear stages on the voyage to digital transformation:

Foundational: do the basics brilliantly

Priorities here include simplifying the application landscape, deploying automation, connecting all instruments and capturing data digitally.

Transformational: data-driven ways of working

The goal of this phase is to bring the lab into “the new” by implementing a harmonized digital platform upon which true business transformation may occur.

Aspirational: redefine your lab

Now, new scientific business models power an end-to-end data supply chain, deeper adoption of AI, whole lab automation and implementation of in silico methods and simulations.

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Bringing the digital lab to life

For life sciences companies, achieving and sustaining competitive advantage in a world of constant change demands immediate, continual, and large-scale transformation of lab operations and scientific data management. Those that commit first to doing the basics brilliantly, and then to leveraging today’s digital technologies to transform and redefine their laboratories, will be in the best position to adapt and thrive.

We invite you to learn more about our views and share yours on making the digital lab a reality.

About the Authors

Patrick Pijanowski

Managing Director – Accenture Scientific Informatics Services

Richard (Brian) Potter

Managing Director – Accenture Scientific Informatics Services

Mark Fish

Managing Director – Accenture Scientific Informatics Services

Kailash Swarna

Ph.D., MBA

Barry Heavey

Managing Director – Life Sciences, Europe


New science: biopharma’s new growth engine

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