The focus of this blog post is to begin to place analytics as the key capability and business improvement for the Life Sciences and Healthcare industry. I will look to give other blog posts on database types as a prelude to the pending wave around the Internet of Things (#IoT). We all know the term #BigData, and if you do a search within LinkedIn you find many articles on the topic. I want to focus on the buyers of big data solutions to solve problems specific to Life Sciences and Healthcare companies. I’ll provide the background and the types of solutions you may need to discuss with this technology.
Big players look to improve their product offerings
A few days ago I had read with interest an article entitled “Big incumbents target big updates in big data bonanza.” The focus of the piece was how Oracle, HP and IBM were releasing updates around their big data portfolios. They include SQL, plus Hadoop, and NoSQL, and according to Dan Vesset from IDC there is no one technology that addresses all the analytics use cases. Why does this matter to Healthcare and Life Sciences?
Having a ‘unified’ data platform will be part of the industry’s analytics strategy. With so much data you need a plan that supports future search and analysis ability within your companies. IDC predicts that the overall market in 2015 to reach $125B. With Healthcare and Life Sciences to have a significant part of this market. IDC tells us that we have until 2017 to have this in place, with the Internet of Things (IoT) having a real influence when it comes to healthcare and new product innovation.
Winners and Losers in the Big Data wars
I recommend you read this great article by Brian Sommer (@Brianssommer) “The Big Data Wars – will your company prevail? Part1” and there is a “Part2.”
I would contend that if you read this blog post you are either involved in analytics or providing advice for clients on this topic. So it is helpful to know where you, and your company or client sits if you agree with the previous paragraph. While the article covers generalities I would like to propose the same viewpoint for Healthcare and Life Sciences companies.
Where do you land in the Big Data wars?
“Wasters – companies that have access to big, external data but don’t do enough with it.” In attempting to comply with US healthcare regulations there are hospital systems that have implemented IT systems to capture data (meaningful use compliance). Have these systems provided valuable feedback to help ‘improve’ healthcare? Can data from within a hospital room be leveraged to improve healthcare for the patient? Depending on the healthcare system it is debatable, and yet it can lead to competitive healthcare improvements.
Conversely, Medical Device companies have to store patient related data as per regulations – are you missing an opportunity to leverage long-term historical facts to give advice for new devices? Pharmaceuticals could be connecting clinical trials data with data from wearables (I would suggest this will happen sooner than later) or doctors notes to offer greater insights into the outcome of new and existing medicines.
“Losers – These firms couldn’t be bothered by the emergence of big data.” Yes there are small group of companies that see data as a nuisance. Their happy with the way their data works today so why bother with looking at more data. To be sure not to find you in this box look at both the technology and organizational change, yet I will leave that for another blog post.
“ERP Masters – Leveraging transactional data beyond the four walls of your company.” I like Brian’s diagram because I come from several years of working with enterprise systems big data forces us to look beyond the four wall of the back office. Yes it is all about ‘integrating’ external data for more insight for the business.
- Life Sciences companies would extend ERP systems into the clinical trial process to tie manufacturing quality and product traceability through to the delivery of the products to the patients and hospital storage locations.
- Hospitals that look to become more profitable will look to extend patient records to include ‘remote/home’ data as a necessary next step in providing ‘value’ in the recovery process. Today’s hospital systems have yet to extend this far into healthcare.
- The Internet of Things (IoT) will have a significant big data impact through the Life Sciences and Healthcare value chain. ERP systems are not designed to support data collection nor analysis of data.
“Winners – These firms know more, understand more and want more.” I’ve not referenced the payers in this discussion, and that is because they take full advantage of big data to help devise healthcare plans and payment plans. Big data should be viewed and planned as a competitive advantage. Do you feel you company or clients are using big data as a spirited market advantage? Brian said it best, “They know that insights mean money, market share and margin.”
Let me know what you think? Agree or disagree…
As we begin the New Year we’ve gone through our resolutions. Now the focus for us is to gain a fast start and the aim of this first blog post around the idea of the Life Sciences Industry Cloud. I’ll provide the background and challenges you will face, and what you could consider that will put IT in a position to help meet your business goals.
Background: The Enterprise in 2015
Cloud computing has been often discussed as the innovation option for Life Sciences companies. Back on September 7th, 2014 I wrote about an initial way of getting into cloud via Testing in Planning your Move to the Cloud? as an option to get the organization used to using cloud applications.
I read an interesting article from Alison Wagonfeld (@awagonfeld) The Enterprise in 2015. Which takes an investor’s perspective on technology trends for the Enterprise, and the focus on “industry cloud” applications. The article points our examples from Salesforce and Veeva of applications that can be rapidly deployed and consumed by business users. This puts Enterprise software vendors in a place to play catch-up with two distinct reactions/approaches. One is to buy up point solutions, and leave the integrations to the systems integrators (SIs) or the end-user. Cloud applications are easy to deploy the key here is to make sure you plan out the business process. The second being a hybrid approach where part of the solution is deployed as ‘on-demand’ (in the cloud) and integrated with the rest of the back office application (on-premise). This forces the end-user to rely on their SI to have the right resources and plan for every interface and data point.
There is a nice summary on the software challenges we will face as we seek to improve the business with technology. Lora Cercere’s (@lcecere) article “Undeniable Truths of Software” provides some very good perspectives on the challenges that Enterprise Software vendors face. She describes a variety of challenges with software companies.
Because the cloud vendors come at the problem from the user side it is easier to create a solution with no back-end integration. The challenge for the Enterprise Software vendors is do they re-write the application or develop only a portion of the business process. There are some Life Sciences clients that are waiting to see how the enterprise software vendors respond to the challenge from cloud applications. There are other considerations from a business user perspective that is driving these discussions*.
[*I will look at the issues with Big Data and Mobility in another blog post.]
Best practices that allows you to leverage cloud applications
Prior to cloud applications the focus was on ‘best practices’ for each industry. I contend that we have to resurrect these processes as a guide to reaching the Life Sciences Industry Cloud.
The focus should be on the business process and the integration points needed to offer the complete process for the end-user. This allows for an easier time to ‘validate’ the process. In 2015 we are at a point where business users are clamoring for IT to improve the business. The benefits are as follows:
- Enterprise software vendors can pick which part of the business process to move into the cloud or stay on-premise. Timing for all this is inevitable as the users of the solutions prioritize business process that give the highest benefits and can rank them so.
- System Integrators (SIs) will have to live with the fact that deploying cloud applications are more about the experienced resources used in faster and quicker projects than long program deployments. Done well repeat business will help drive net new opportunities.
- Clients need to become more aware of the users and how they work to give the right business process. Change should be the motive in all this – failure to recognize this will lead IT to fall out of favor with the business.
For many customers the move into cloud applications can be daunting given the investment in on-premise software applications. Today’s users want to work more efficiently and have already personal experience with cloud applications. The goal for 2015 is how well you can adopt the Life Sciences Industry Cloud into your organizations.
Let me know what you think?
Recent articles and tweets emphasize that Big Data, or Analytics, would improve the bottom line for a company as long as they are prepared to take advantage of this benefit. Some Life Sciences (those that offer pharmaceuticals and medical devices products) and Healthcare companies have a need for new tools if they are going to take full advantage of Big Data. Today companies have enterprise systems that need IT people to give the requisite report or summary analysis. Newer analytics tools like Tableau Software compliment the installed base of enterprise software with the added benefit of an intuitive way of doing user analysis that focuses more on collaboration and portability.
The key benefits from Big Data for Healthcare (and I will include Life Sciences in this because of the connection to pricing/payments) includes*:
- Improvements in Drug Trial Safety
- Disease surveillance
- Prescribed treatments
- Patient Outcomes
Today we still have data stored like this:
Companies have enterprise systems with data cubes and traditional spreadsheets that need IT to extract the data:
So how can I prioritize?
I agree with the opinion of Dr. Rado Kotorov in his article “The CIOs Top 3 priorities for 2015”:
- The CIO role will transform from a technology leader to a business leader
- Manage data as the enterprise’s most valuable strategic asset
- Make Business Intelligence (BI) pervasive and ubiquitous
Consider the following
Change is imminent so consider a tool that your users can easily leverage to do key analysis, and I don’t mean Excel spreadsheets or Access database. Yesterday I went through a demo of the Tableau software (rank high in terms of “Ability to Execute” and as a “Leader” in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics). In summary they have solved the problem of connecting to multiple source systems. The product is also easy to set-up and more importantly provides a means to allow for collaboration with others.
In my opinion, reaping the benefit of Big Data means finding ways to turn IT systems to supporting the users to help the business. As leaders in the industry you need to find ways to allow users to unleash their creativity and help the organization analyze and solve business problems. This may mean an additional cost in the short-term. Alternatively you can wait for the right resources or invest in replacing key parts of your enterprise landscape – either choice may not be as appealing as selecting tools to make data analysis easier. I would recommend Tableau Software…
Would you agree I am open to your opinion, so tell me what you think?
For most IT departments supporting the business with new functionality
means planning a move to the ‘cloud.’ With most of the Enterprise software vendors are now offering their solutions via the cloud. In this blog post, I will present some the most commons myths against the use of ‘cloud computing’ and offer a common Testing application to help you and your organization get experience with ‘cloud computing.’
What is holding you back from moving to the cloud…?
Today as you read this blog post you most likely have your personal data in the cloud. Costs for storage have been dropping, and recently my Dropbox account went from 100GB to 1TB for the same monthly fee! So what is holding organizations back from moving to the ‘cloud?’
- Compliance – Life Sciences companies have the need to perform computer system validation (CSV). Very often the push back is around how to define the systems and processes.
- Drawing a line around the components and defining the connections between the applications helps to focus on what needs to be validated. Once you define this as part of your process – the validation and documentation that you used with your legacy systems remain the same. Just because you have a part or all of your process in the cloud should not hold you back from performing CSV on your process.
- Data security – there is still a ‘fear’ that going to the cloud means a less secure IT environment.
- Overcoming this fear is to look at how you currently access your data. I work closely with Amazon Web Services (AWS). Where the concept of a ‘private cloud’ is certainly an option in protecting access to your data. In short, this is a direct connection between your IT landscape and the cloud servers.
- Another way of overcoming this fear is via industry examples, and thanks to Andy Waroma and the folks at Cloud Comrade here is a link to an article “Amazon Web Services becomes first cloud provider to handle sensitive US defense data” So if the US Defense industry can use cloud services it most certainly can be leveraged for your application data.
- Cost – what are the savings from moving to the cloud?
- We have been accustomed to a cycle of Capital requests for software and hardware on an annual basis, and support costs is an on-going expense.
- In working with my clients comparing the overall costs – moving to the cloud can bring down the overall support costs by 2X!
- The added benefit from a move to the cloud is the flexibility it can bring to your current IT landscape. This is where you need to get some experience with cloud computing to gain further insight in this area. We will discuss this next.
Typical IT Landscape
For purposes of this discussion we will focus on an SAP landscape. The situation is where you want to add additional users to an existing landscape of ERP, Business Warehouse (BW) and NetWeaver. What you would do is to test the performance of your applications with the increased user count.
For my client we provide Testing services and invariably we have to request additional hardware to ‘simulate’ this environment. The solution is to provide….
Performance Testing in the Cloud
Consider the use of cloud computing services for “Performance Testing” to achieve the following experience:
- Requires a discussion on connecting your IT landscape to Amazon Web Services or similar provider. This will ensure and test the security around your data. Direct Connection versus Virtual Private Network (VPN)
- Server sizing and set-up that is similar to your landscape. Please note: the hardware will not be exactly what you currently have in your landscape.
- Have your IT department provide Basis support for performing client copies and any software application changes you need to simulate in the cloud. If you don’t have the resources available you can ask your systems integrator to provide this service for you.
- Costs – include a one-time setup – an operating cost and cost for when you don’t run you’re ‘performance testing.’ Your costs will vary based on your needs.
In summary, moving to the cloud should be part of your annual IT project planning. You can work through your Compliance and Data Security needs. The goal should be a move to shift your overall support cost from maintaining your hardware to an operating cost that will allow for expansion of your IT landscape to meet the increasing needs of the business.
In discussing this with clients that have the ‘traditional’ server centers there is a hesitance to move to the cloud. I would recommend you look to do your ‘performance testing’ in the cloud to give you and your IT team the experience in working with cloud computing services. The benefits can be realized very quickly.
I am open to your feedback, so tell me what you think?
The question I keep hearing about is ‘how can Life Sciences CIOs help meet the needs of the business at the current pace of technology?’ Last month I wrote about Realizing a 360 degree view of your customer… and a focus on CRM. This described how IT technology can add value in helping the business keep and acquire customers. This month I want to summarize what is impacting today’s executives and what can be done to have IT be an enabler of value within Life Sciences.
The situation today
In the recent Gartner 2012 CIO Agenda “Re-Imaging IT” by Andrew Rowsell-Jones he presents a summary of the results from an extensive CIO survey, and a key question around the relevancy of IT departments when the business has a broader definition of technology.
Many of you reading this blog post experience the rapid pace of technology as you go about your business each day. Technology is reaching more people across the globe consider these points:
- I’ve heard that in China over 70% of the population have never owned a laptop and went straight to handheld devices.
- In India, mobile phones are more popular than toothbrushes
- And other facts about the rapid pace of technology
In the Gartner survey CIOs ranked the following business strategies in order of importance:
- New customers
- Reducing IT costs
Yet the Life Sciences industry executives have to deal with little or no growth in IT budget and increasing demands from the business for more technology (especially around analytics and mobility). CIOs are constrained from delivering IT innovation from budget to skilled IT resources to organization and culture plus alignment between IT and the business.
CIO as the Chief Innovation Officer
I had read this Forbes article by Perry Rotella entitled CIO = Chief INNOVATION Officer. The essence of the article was to lay out the case for CIOs to have their organizations adopt more of an ‘agile’ approach to the use of technology within IT. I recognize and experience that Life Sciences companies have to deal with Regulations, Compliance and Security. Yet I believe this to can be solved.
I do agree with Perry in this article that the CIOs “greatest responsibility is to create value” for the organization. You drive ‘growth’ via ‘innovation.’ IT enabled innovation can differentiate how you deliver service for medical devices, offer a great customer experience, and improve the productivity within the organization.
IT Service providers can aid and enable CIOs move to a more ‘agile’ approach to generate IT Innovation. I would suggest the following actions:
- Embrace the fact that your current approach to delivering projects will have shortened lifecycles – full of frequent changes.
- Find IT providers that add value from a solution/technology perspective. Think of them as extensions to your team. This reduces the need to up-skill or hires talent to your IT team.
- Fill the gap within your IT team around new technology with IT service providers that can rapidly add value to key projects.
- CIOs are asking for short ‘assessment’ projects that can diagnose the current process and offer solutions with costs and timelines. I’ve helped companies adjust their supply chain or enact benefits studies around specific business processes.
- Focus on smaller and shorter (in terms of duration) IT projects.
- Proof-of-concept projects in cloud computing. Balancing validation between on-premise and on-demand applications. Yes a ‘hybrid’ model is possible. Remember the previous points and align these projects with the business to meet the greatest value.
In the coming weeks I will address mobility and big data. These are some of the hot topics within Life Sciences and they can mean different things depending on if you’re a pharmaceutical or medical device company.