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March 27, 2014
The technology trends poised to turn life sciences companies into digital disruptors
By: Sunil Rao

Leading digital life sciences companies have recognized that technology is the driving force not only for how they develop products, but also for how they go to market, how they collaborate with payers and providers, and even how they engage patients. Digital has become a part of their operating DNA. Large companies that were previously digitally disrupted now have the size, scale and skills to become digital disruptors. This shift is what’s shaping Accenture’s Technology Vision 2014, our annual outlook of emerging tech trends and their impacts on businesses.

While this year’s Technology Vision points to six trends emerging among the digital power players of tomorrow, I want to highlight four that are particularly relevant for life sciences:

  • Digital-physical blur: Extending intelligence to the edge. Wearable devices, and smart objects and machines are now being combined with real-time intelligence that is enabling decision making “on the edge” which creates opportunities to change the customer experience. In life sciences, these technologies enable new models for delivering end-to-end patient services, a capability especially exciting as companies use this technology to extend their services to physicians and patients.

  • From workforce to crowdsource: Rise of the borderless enterprise. Cloud, social and collaboration technologies now allow companies to tap into vast pools of human resources across the world. For life sciences companies, this trend means their R&D functions can effectively use gamification strategies to address research challenges. The InnoCentive platform (spun off by Eli Lilly) is a great example. Industry platforms are emerging to enable the borderless enterprise, such as Transcelerate and Accenture’s Life Sciences R&D Cloud. Looking into the future, improved clinical data transparency is likely to open the door for interested parties to use research data to develop new insights and rapidly detect potential safety concerns.

  • Data supply chain: Putting information into circulation. There’s value in data, but to truly unlock that value, data should be treated more as a supply chain, enabling the data to flow easily and usefully through the entire organization. Working across partner ecosystems in health, real-world data can help life sciences companies deliver more personalized treatments, assess clinical and economic outcomes, identify interventions and enable a 360-degree view of their customers.

  • Business of applications: Software as a core competency in the digital world. The lines between business and IT are blurring as companies are pushing for greater IT agility, mirroring the expectation created by apps in the consumer world. IT focuses on building a stronger technology backbone and enabling innovation whilst the business is acquiring a development mindset. Life sciences companies are taking bold steps to develop new IT operating models, which enable data scientists to work collaboratively with customer experience experts and in demand technical skills, to work in an agile and experimental way. The building of these custom agile applications is becoming a hallmark of the new digital enterprise.

These are exciting times for life sciences companies. The potential to deliver better patient outcomes and achieve profitable growth is limited only by the creativity of the company itself. Now’s the time to stop thinking about being disrupted by digital technology and start using it to become a disrupter.

Check back on this blog for more on Accenture’s Technology Vision 2014. In the meantime, to learn more about these trends and the others making headlines this year, visit the following Accenture pages:

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