In brief

In brief

  • Moving to the cloud gives life sciences companies an opportunity to unlock data, collaborate across the ecosystem, improve engagement and more.
  • COVID-19 has created an opportunity to understand the urgency and significance that moving to the cloud can have on their business.
  • Two-thirds of life sciences companies say they haven’t achieved the results they expected from cloud.
  • Our report gives guidance on how to accelerate the move to the cloud and derive its greatest value for life sciences companies.

The cloud is one of the most value-creating technologies of our time. It is the foundation for the digital transformation that is driving profound changes in how businesses operate, compete and create value for all their stakeholders.

Almost overnight, the COVID-19 pandemic created a need for life sciences companies to transform their ways of working to be able to continue to bring existing and new treatments to market, while mobilizing to develop vaccines and support a global health crisis. A few companies had already started their digital transformations before the pandemic as there was an increased demand for cloud-enabled capabilities such as digital biology, digital clinical trials and data science. As the crisis has unfolded, these leaders have further increased these investments while those who have not now have a much bigger challenge to address.

For life sciences companies, the cloud’s virtue is not just about running a more streamlined business, lowering costs and computing on demand. It is about the ability to unlock data, collaborate better across the ecosystem, create more meaningful patient and healthcare provider engagement and transform their culture to embrace these new ways of working.

RELATED: Watch Accenture, Takeda and AWS discuss the Power of Three at the AWS Executive Summit 2020.

The state of cloud in life sciences

Just adopting cloud technology or moving parts of the business to the cloud does not ensure business value.

Many life sciences companies have already selected their cloud partners and started their journey with private clouds or public cloud pilots. However, only a few life sciences companies are taking a "cloud first" approach where the cloud is primary and prioritized, extended beyond the IT organization and embraced by the whole organization.

2 OUT OF 3

life sciences companies said they haven’t achieved the results expected of their cloud initiatives to date.


are taking a hybrid cloud approach with a mix of cloud providers.

Getting the value of cloud in life sciences

Getting the most out of your cloud journey means you need to balance speed and value. A rushed migration without clear strategy can end up costing more, leaving legacy applications racking up consumption—and costs—at an alarming rate. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, each company should start with defining the value, mapping out the journey and determining how cloud will enable the overall business strategy and ambition.

For life sciences companies, that means adopting and adhering to the following key strategies:

Embrace cloud as a CEO priority

The entire enterprise needs to be aligned on the cloud strategy and its intended ROI; it cannot be a purely IT-driven exercise.

Build cross-functional teams and partnerships

Use the cloud as a catalyst to do things differently and draw new insights—from discovering new treatments to providing more precise patient support.

Expand your company's innovative spirit

Cloud enables fast experimentation, including testing new ways of working—this lets companies spin up new environments and try several ideas at once.

Unify responsibility and success metrics

Bring all areas and functions moving to the cloud together to agree on what you want to achieve, how to achieve it and how you will measure success.

Invest in developing talent with digital skills

Go beyond building pockets of excellence to create an entire community of technologically savvy people.

Reshape the regulatory environment

Use the cloud to modernize regulatory approvals and policies around risk, security and data.

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Cloud at work in life sciences

To support the innovation and pace of New Science with the cloud, life sciences companies need to prove that the science not only works in the lab but also show its effectiveness in patients in the form of better outcomes. This means they need a digital capability with speed and agility that can support accelerated cycles of new treatments and services.

Moving to the cloud enables this to happen in multiple ways:

1. Free the data

Managing and measuring patient outcomes is impossible without freeing patient data while securely accessing it across the company and partners.

2. Unify the value chain

Making the whole organization more accessible and open can enable everything from attracting top talent to advancing the discovery of New Science.

3. Ignite growth

The cloud allows companies to scale computational resources to the volume of genomic data being analyzed for cutting-edge therapies in development.

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We worked with a large life sciences company to create a COVID-19 home-care app that helps patients manage the illness from home, in partnership with their healthcare providers. Patients capture their symptoms daily, and data is stored in the cloud.

The view from above

Cloud isn’t some future aspiration—it’s an urgent mandate at the heart of the business. COVID-19 has created an unprecedented wake-up call and an opportunity to embrace the promise of cloud in life sciences.

It takes courage and investment to shape the near-term progress of cloud technology in life sciences. It’s a big lift, but those companies that do will lead the New Science revolution with unparalleled resilience, agility, adaptability and scalability. They will empower their workforce, digitally transform their company and improve their ability to deliver better patient outcomes.

Accenture is investing $3 billion over the next three years to enable our clients to rapidly become CLOUD FIRST businesses.

About the Authors

Stuart Henderson

Market Unit Lead – US Northeast

Sanskriti Thakur​

Senior Principal

Geoff Schmidt

Managing Director – Cloud First, Life Sciences

Brad Michel

Managing Director – Life Sciences Lead, North America

Petra Jantzer, PhD

Senior Managing Director – Global Life Sciences Lead

Aman Bajaaj

Managing Director – Asia Pacific Life Sciences Lead


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