Life Sciences IT

Life Sciences Industry Cloud

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As we begin the New Year we’ve gone through our resolutions. Now the focus for us is to gain a fast start 2015 loadingand 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.

Software challenges 

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*.

Electric plug

[*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.

Working 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?

Thanks,

Jim

Are you Effectively using Big Data?

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Since the market introduced this term we’ve tried to make a distinction between data and ‘more’ Using Big-Data
data. In my opinion all data is ‘big data.’ That the challenge for IT departments is how to ‘quickly’ turn these new sources of data into ‘value’ for the business. In this blog post I’ll explain where we are with big data – illustrate the issues and propose a solution.

Backdrop

Within Life Sciences (pharmaceuticals and medical devices) ‘big data’ has been in place for quite some time. Most companies have had to address the challenges of managing data for instance:

  • Financial data – this would include your typical data for operating your company. There are additional complexities from a sales and rebate perspective along with cross border/country tax issues for products.
  • Supply Chain data – includes your typical sales and operations data plus the traceability of packaged pharmaceuticals or individual devices.
  • Clinical trials data – generating data that needs to be translated into information for product approval as well as storing data for adverse events analysis.

Government regulations influence how companies manage data. Most firms are required to maintain patient data for the life of the user. Managing data is also part of any legal defense in the event of product failures in the field, and the random audit from the FDA and other regulatory bodies.

 

Influences

If Life Sciences companies maintain their data we are dealing with large repositories of data. What are influencing IT departments are the changes in today’s markets, for instance:

  • Mergers and Acquisitions – most companies are prepared for this both from a due diligence prior to the acquisition. In most cases there is a common set of financial and supply chain information that is shared until an IT decision is made to absorb, or let stand, the IT landscape of the acquired company. There are a few firms that still operate in a mixed IT environment. So this can be a challenge without the right strategy for reporting and analytics.
  • Mobile devices – we’ve already been made aware of the growing use of smartphones and tablets. Besides the security aspects of these devices. Data needs to be made available at various levels of the organization. This is a topic that most IT departments are struggling with, and an area that requires a strategy with feedback from your users.
  • Digital Marketing or Business Insights – we should be aware that ‘social media’ is having a huge impact on Marketing. The advent of these new tools and data sources (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) poses several data questions:
    • How do we analyze and treat these new sources of customer/patient feedback?
    • With more and more doctors using tablets how do we get our product messages to them, and can we measure the impact on our market share?
    • How do I plan for this additional explosion of data because we still have the existing ‘structured’ data, and now we are adding new sources of ‘unstructured’ data?
    • Marketing and Business folks are asking for this information for further analysis? IT has to decide on the tools and methods to perform this analysis.

structured and unstructured data

So are you effectively using ‘bigdata,’ and if not what plans do you have to support the business and your company’s growth targets?

Your Strategy

Reporting Strategy and Elastic Analytics

If you are in this situation there is a need to prepare your ‘reporting strategy.’ Typically this is a 6 to 8 week exercise to identify the business needs and match this against your current IT landscape and solutions. I often recommend this exercise because if you have this strategy in place you can leverage this output for funding needs, new tools, etc., as well as a discussion with the business. Focus on immediate pain points and demonstrate ‘quick wins’ will go a long way to ensuring that IT is still a strategic influence within your organizations.

Yet even if you have you’re strategy in place you may need to move faster to help the business. At Capgemini we have introduced a solution called ‘elastic analytics.’ The link below is a video which provides a high level summary for this offering.

 Capgemini Elastic Analytics video

Elastic Analytics helps IT with the following:

  1.  If the deployment of your reporting strategy is a lengthy process then elastic analytics can provide you with ‘quick wins’ that demonstrate the ‘art of the possible’ when it comes to reporting and analytics. All you need to do is provide the data and we will process this into information served up in a variety of outputs (from a dashboard to a screen on a Smartphone or tablet).
  2. Let’s say you want to ‘test’ out different analytics tools using your data. Using elastic analytics there is no need for you to invest in and take time out for product demos. This landscape includes most of the leading products on the market. This allows you the freedom to test your data on multiple products.
  3. Maybe there is no in-house expertise when it comes to the science of converting data into meaningful information. Within this offering we have up 250 data scientists that can help you correlate your data into relevant business information.

In summary, if all data is big date then are you using this ‘effectively?’  There are various reasons for companies to look into changing their approach to reporting and analytics. What I’ve explained is available today, and I hope this helps you decide how best to approach your problem.

I am open to your feedback or suggestions, so tell me what you think?

Thanks,

Jim

Time to ‘Tune-up’ your Supply Chain

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This month my focus is on Supply Chain in Life Sciences. As we head towards the end of the year budgets are being planned and IT projects are being prioritized for next year. Many companies are reviewing their current IT investments in light of mergers and acquisitions and projects that will add to the company’s business ability. My discussions have been around how best to improve your operations at a minimal cost. No one seems to want to buy new IT systems and they want to extract ‘value’ from their current IT systems.

Time to ‘Tune-up’ your Supply Chain

Ask yourself if you are getting the most from your current Supply Chain? Do you feel you’re gotten significant return from your SAP or Oracle investment? It seems everyone had one of these IT solutions. I believe the reason most companies should be looking at their Supply Chain is as follows:

  1. Most firms have invested in IT solutions to help react quickly and expect demand. We now are moving to ‘collaborative’ business processes as a means for extracting added value from your partners.
  2. Companies need to give supply chain ‘visibility’ so that the organization can make faster and better decisions.
  3. Business process improvements need re-training for your people.

I get this now how do I get there?

The answer is to create a ‘road-map’ for your supply chain that includes opportunities (projects) specific to your business systems. The key is how to develop this road-map. You need to have the following:

  • Supply Chain experts that can analyze your data and processes.
  • IT ability to look at how your SAP or Oracle solutions have been installed.
  • Our company has developed a unique set of tools that can analyze your Demand, Supply and Inventory.

We’ve created a project approach to this kind of analysis. Over the next few months I plan to promote this approach for Life Sciences and yet this approach is not just for this industry. I know this can be applied for any industry that is looking to get more value out of their IT investment in supply chain. As we gain traction in the market I hope to offer some proof points to this approach.

I would be interested in your comments and suggestions on this topic.

Thanks,

Jim

Change is inevitable…

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Last month I spoke about the ‘model’ for integrating clinical operations. In this blog post we’ll review the solution that was presented at the Oracle “OpenWorld” conference held earlier this month. There is also two links to collateral that you can use to help understand how the solution works at the end of this blog post. I welcome your reaction and comments.

I’ve written about ways to improve R&D from the idea of “ERP for R&D” through “Integration” of key business processes. In summary the background issues that I think drive this solution are:

  • Access to relevant data
  • Getting out of the IT business within R&D
  • A solution that is scalable to meet tomorrow’s business needs

How does this solution solve these issues?

Data integration

Starting with ‘Access to relevant data’ – there have been many attempts to create an IT landscape for R&D. This best-of-breed approach favors decisions that support the best solutions to meet a specific need. Yet if you take a step back and ask how I can get access to facts to make ‘key’ decisions this approach falters. The solution approach being offered starts with the premise that the user needs access to key data. Based on an individual’s role you get access to key data and permission to upload new data. This removes the user from having to make the required ‘conversions’ between solutions to create the information needed. The benefits include:

  • Adaptive trials can now be easily facilitated
  • Financial decisions tied to key outcomes of clinical trials can be reviewed and decided upon
  • Users get to focus on the science of creating new medications and treatments and not the nuances of the technology

Getting out of the IT business – the biggest advantage to this solution is that Pharmaceutical companies can focus on their core business goals of producing new products to complex diseases.

Global access to data

You now have a scalable approach to R&D. This solution not only accommodates your scientists and statisticians you can also invite clinical research organization (CROs). Data security is also key to this solution since you may be adding other teams to help in the development of new clinical products. The solution also takes globalization into consideration as a result of today’s clinical trials.

HCL Unified Clinical Operations Platform

HCL Innovation through Integration

Thanks,

Jim

Integration for RandD

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The purpose of this blog post is to summarize a model for ‘integrating’ clinical operations. I’ll summarize the goals for this model and describe the background and next steps around such an offering. Over the past few months I’ve been engaged with several clients in discussing how our IT Services Company could create such a platform. This new platform should meet the following:

  • Lower Operating Costs
  • Increase Productivity
  • While maintaining Quality and Compliance

There are several very good software solutions yet we know that there is a lack of an ‘integrated’ process that can ‘unify’ the R&D clinical data landscape of IT solutions. The key here is a focus on ‘transformation’ rather than ‘yet another technology implementation.’

In a earlier blog post titled “Improving the Business of RandD” (31Mar2011) the focus was on cloud computing and how this technology could lead to an ‘integrated’ business process. Since companies would be relying on IT Service providers to host these applications. In another blog post “Is It Time for “ERP for RandD?”” (30Apr2011) I spoke to the need for integrated business processes. Now I’ll look to pull these to thoughts together for a more complete view across clinical operations.

Let’s start with the Users

This integrated approach would address users that include Pharmaceutical companies, Clinical Research Organizations (CROs), and any Healthcare entity. We would leverage cloud computing solutions to offer the users with a portal that supports:

  • Single point of information capture
  • With access to data by role, study and function
  • Single sign-on

Content Layer

Here there is a dedicated source of content by pharmaceutical company. Various databases would be organized with content ranging from electronic data capture (EDC) to clinical and scientific data warehouse (CSDW).
Key to the content layer:

  • Standards
  • Dedicated source by pharmaceutical company
  • Providing flexibility to support variety of data sources

Business Shared Services

Supporting the users and the content is layer of business services ranging from:

  • Component user support
  • Compliance
  • Change management
  • Staging and data migrations services
  • Data reconciliation

Our team will be presenting this approach at the upcoming Oracle OpenWorld conference in October. In addition to this we will also be presenting on the topic I wrote about last month – Serialization. I am very appreciative of my colleagues – specialists in a variety of topics. What I find satisfying is in ‘stitching’ all this together. We now have several interested clients and the possible next steps are to deploy this solution and that will take some time. I would be interested in hearing from you – and your comments on “Integration for RandD.”

Thanks,

Jim

Gearing up for Serialization…

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I recently attended an Oracle product training session for ‘serialization.’ The Life Sciences industries, and especially pharmaceutical and medical device companies, are gearing up for the need to offer product traceability. This blog post will be the basis for a possible industry presentation later this year.

Oracle product/training

There are several solutions that address pedigree and serialization. A recent article by Carla Reed provides a great background to this topic. (Reed, Carla. “Beyond the mandates: Finding business value in mass serialization and supply chain visibility.” Pharmaceutical Manufacturing June 2011: 34-36.) I can recall as early as 2006 when radio frequency identification (RFID) tags were introduced as the solution for the industry. We know that for various reasons this never panned out due to price for the tags and adoption within the industry. Today a good example of this technology is the use of RFID with the devices that help automate toll collection on the various US highways.

Alternative technologies to RFID tags include 2D barcodes. Printers can create these unique tags at a fraction of the cost of RFID tags. The Oracle solution allows you the ability to attach these tags and their associated numbering at any level within your product hierarchy. This data can then be organized into a ‘pedigree’ document for your product. This would be analogous to ‘shipping’ papers that you would normally prepare once you prepare to send your product off to a distribution center or local warehouse.

Implications for supply chain

Now doubt that technology alternatives exist to help solve the problem of product traceability and authentication. Companies today are being forced by local and global regulations for the need to provide traceability solutions. The questions for many companies is just how to go about solving this problem. Let’s first decide what you want to ‘track’ within your product and your business process. I often describe the application of technology with the use of a ‘babushka’ doll (or Russian nesting doll). Where do you want to apply a tracking solution within your product? How do you want your supply chain to track your product?

Why IT services?

An interesting comment came out of the training session when one of the attendees asked “when would I use an IT services company?” Some manufacturers have looked to their packaging and labeling suppliers to provide the ability to ‘serialize’ and track their products. This would be a great idea were it not for the fact that these suppliers lack the resources and ability to discuss the need for traceability within a ‘business process.’ This became very clear when the discussion turned to when do you apply serialized information? You see no two products are manufactured in the same way.

Some manufacturers use production order with routing to make their products and some use process orders and recipes for their products. That was a tough conversation and when I raised the fact that production and process orders can often be mixed – well let’s say that the value of IT services providers that can navigate a client’s business process answered this question.

Some next steps

In my opinion IT service providers need to offer:

  • The ability to understand a client’s business process and offer cost-effective solutions to the application of serialization and product traceability.
  • Provide the ability to organize a series of steps within a project to deliver a solution. You need good project management – deliverables that includes documentation (yes it is a validated environment) – with skilled resources. Ask your IT service providers if they have any ‘accelerators’ for this type of work?
  • Have the technical ability to apply Oracle and SAP solutions. This is a mixed technology environment and there is no one solution to solve this problem.

I will let you know if this turns into an industry presentation later this year.

Thanks,

Jim

The Need for Storytelling

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What does ‘storytelling’ have to do with leveraging technology for improving Life Sciences processes? In today’s rapidly changing world of technology you owe it to yourself to learn about and practice the ‘art of storytelling.’ In this blog post I want to give you a summary of why it is a vital skill to learn and practice, some basic do’s and don’ts, and a great reference on this topic.

Why it’s vital to hone your ‘storytelling’ skill

Selling technology is more difficult these days because of the way your audience process information. You’ve got more competitors looking to compete for the same business. Companies continue to ‘innovate’ and how do you offer these new ideas to the market?

Throughout your career you’ve learned to become an ‘expert’ in a given technology. Ask yourself what distinguishes you from your competitor who happens to be in the same field? I’m in IT services where success does not always mean that you have the lowest rates/cost. I constantly receive feedback that while the competition has the best price they fail to deliver on improvements to the business. Can you tell a story around why your company can do a better job delivering the same IT service?

Basic do’s and don’ts

When we prepare for bid defense or engage with a net new client I’ve often discussed how many slides we should use in a typical presentation? Many of you have ‘off-shore’ resources that can do a wonderful job in applying graphic skills to improve the look of a presentation. So here are some basic things to look out for that will hopefully improve your delivery of your ‘story.’

Do’s

  • Go through a process of gathering ideas and developing a timeline for your pitch.
  • Know your audience – who are you selling to….
  • Manage the time to deliver your message.
  • Practice your timing. Your slides should be a reminder to the audience of your topic.
  • Finish early and look to engage in a Q&A.

Don’ts

  • Do not use your presentation as a document. I’ve seen off-shore resources offer lots of text on each slide (simply move this to your notes section).
  • Avoid the use of small fonts on your slides.
  • Resist the temptation to develop your story in PowerPoint. Use a drawing tool (Visio) or Word to outline your ideas. If you collaborate with your team make full use of posit notes to organize your presentation.
  • Avoid acronyms and abbreviations, and do not take for granted that your audience is ‘technically’ at your level.
  • Read the text from your slide. I know this is basic presentation training. Yet I’ve seen too many presentations where this continues to happen.

Recommended reading

A few weeks ago I posted on my LinkedIn Reading list a book entitled: resonate by Nancy Duarte. The author dissects ‘storytelling’ from content through delivery. What Distinguishes this book are the examples she uses to illustrate key points. I find myself referring to this book to prepare for various presentations.
I highly recommend this book.

Thanks,

Jim