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A new era in life sciences: cloud computing changes the game

The cloud presents an attractive opportunity for life sciences companies to operate in a more nimble, collaborative and cost-effective manner.

Overview

Although cloud computing is already bringing efficiencies to the life sciences industry, we estimate that it is one to three years away from leveraging the complete potential.

Life sciences companies with a “cloud first” mentality can use the cloud to reshape their relationships with physicians; move beyond proprietary homegrown IT solutions to create enterprisewide agility; and transition to multichannel operating models focused on improving patient outcomes.

Life sciences companies that want to seize the lead rather than follow trends will weave cloud capabilities into the entire fabric of their organization and ensure that their research and development (R&D) functions catch up with their sales and marketing functions in cloud adoption.

In this report, we have identified three key trends defining the use of cloud computing in the life sciences industry.

  • Trend 1: Life sciences companies will rely on collaborative, social ecosystems to pursue personalized medicine and improve patient outcomes.

  • Trend 2: New medicines and services will be developed using an entirely new paradigm, drawing on external innovation and data from multiple sources.

  • Trend 3:The convergence of technologies, enabled and driven by the cloud, will enhance and expand the way life sciences companies act on a global basis, and open the door to new partnerships and markets.

Background

The life sciences industry is entering a new stage of "normal," defined by healthcare cost reduction constraints in mature economies and demand in emerging economies. Additionally, they face a 10-year cycle of reduced output from the R&D pipeline.

Companies are trying to quickly and cost effectively bring to market new products with proven patient outcomes targeted at specific disease areas and, at the same time, balance the global expansion demands in emerging markets. The net result is pressure to:

  • Innovate in a more open, collaborative, cost-effective and timely manner.

  • Promote products by leveraging multiple channels and the digital world.

  • Run global supply chains and operations.

  • Demonstrate efficacy and outcomes for patients, with the goal of achieving appropriate pricing and reimbursement from governments and payers for their products.

Life sciences companies need to leverage the cloud to overcome these challenges and gain a competitive advantage.

Key Findings

How will cloud computing transform the life sciences industry? We see three trends that are being driven forward by the cloud as well as technologies enabled by the cloud.

  • Life sciences companies will rely on collaborative, social ecosystems to pursue personalized medicine and improve patient outcomes: In the past, companies had a single sales channel (direct to the provider) and one set of tools. As the importance of the direct channel waned, a plethora of channels has sprung up, each of which must be managed well.

  • New medicines and services will be developed using an entirely new paradigm, drawing on external innovation and data from multiple sources: Companies are recognizing that future innovation will emerge from the aggregation and analysis of data from multiple external sources.

  • The convergence of technologies, enabled and driven by the cloud, will enhance and expand the way life sciences companies act on a global basis, and will open the door to new partnerships and expanded markets: The convergence of social media, advanced analytics, digital media, mobility and the cloud will be highly disruptive for the life sciences industry. Content—the huge amount of data gathered from patients, physicians, payers, R&D and academia—will be the king.

Analysis

It is our belief that to lead rather than follow the evolution of the life sciences industry, companies will have to make sure that their R&D functions catch up with their sales and marketing functions in cloud adoption.

As companies move from an early-stage adoption stage to global R&D driven by a mature cloud solution focused on patient outcomes, they can reap numerous benefits:

  • Reduced total cost of ownership
  • Enhanced flexibility and agility to experiment without big investments
  • Better working relationships with other stakeholders, such as payers

Additionally, the companies will be able to handle volatile levels of demand and access the latest technological innovations, including methods for managing and analyzing Big Data.

Recommendations

We believe that to better prepare for the cloud-enabled future, life sciences companies should consider these five steps:

  1. Run cloud test-and-learn cycles: Companies can maintain their traditional channels and subscribe to some licenses on a customer relationship management (CRM) cloud provider for two months. They can try this out and explore how to calculate return on investment in the cloud.

  2. Redefine what is core and noncore: Companies need to identify the parts of the business that have the right characteristics for the cloud and assess the changes required internally.

  3. Encourage use of social technologies across the organization: Companies must create a vision and a road map for social collaboration. They have to look for ways to increase adoption by prioritizing and embedding social media technologies into processes, providing support, and incentivizing behaviors and leadership sponsorship.

  1. Define the data that is valuable to the enterprise: It is important to identify the life cycle as well as the security and compliance attributes associated with data. Companies should use this information map to prioritize the data services that will be important for the business and establish a road map for data services. They must find a way to integrate internal data and aggregate external data from its alliance partners.

  2. Map out a plan to create an agile technology foundation for the company: Companies can use cloud computing to leapfrog to multichannel seamlessness. The cloud lays the foundation for an agile business, enabling the organization to expand and change its capabilities quickly through incremental steps.