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?
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.
The problem we are looking to solve is the change in realizing a 360 degree view of your customer for the medical devices industry. Most companies that I deal with are struggling with leveraging customer relationship management (CRM) solutions that live in the cloud versus the traditional ‘on-premise’ applications. In this blog post I will give for you a set of questions to ask so that you can select an IT service provider to help you navigate the technology choices to help your organization reach this goal.
Why medical devices and not pharmaceuticals? Within the business of medical devices you have the normal sales force activities to place your products and services. You also have a service management aspect of medical devices where equipment must be serviced and maintained. The clients I work with are the IT folks that are responsible for ensuring that technology is in place to support the organization, and it is the business that is driving the choice for technology. Ultimately I want to share some pointers on what to ask for to reach a better view of your customer with the right technology.
Let’s begin with how today’s IT solution’s have evolved? ERP solutions have been where customer data has been stored and where sales orders are entered. CRM was an extension of the sales order taking process along with added enhancements for a variety of business activities. Medical device companies have added ‘service management’ activities that are managed. This ranges from dispatching service technicians to service order status and contract management. I also recognize that there is a lot of other activities. The goal for technology was to offer a better view into customer services and a more complete view of your customer.
Can your CRM deliver on a view of your customer?
I came across a great article of “What exactly is a 360-degree view of the customer?”
“The term a “360-degree view of the customer” has been used in the industry for several years. But what exactly does it mean, and what information would you actually display on the agent desktop?
Whenever a customer interacts with an organization, it is vital that the richness of information available on that customer informs and guides the processes that will help to maximize their experience, while simultaneously making the interaction as effective and efficient as possible. This includes everything from avoiding repetition or re-keying of information, to viewing customer history, establishing context and initiating desired actions.
A true 360-degree view needs to include views of the past, present and future:
- The past means providing a meaningful and easily digested view of the customer’s history. This includes product or policy activity, interaction history across all channels, including community, recent product views, campaign activity and process history.
- The present requires presenting key customer information about who they are and how they relate to your organization, but also requires determining the context of the call. Is there a recent order or current fault, why are they interacting with us now?
- The future relates to actions that can be initiated to guide the future of the relationship. Is the customer likely to churn? Are there up-sell or cross-sell opportunities or targeted messages to bring in at this time?
Delivering on the 360-degree view is not simply about having a unified database of all activity, but rather being able to pull together the pieces of information that are relevant for a specific customer and specific interaction into an intuitive workspace for the agent or the customer.”
CRM Sales force automation (SFA) has several solutions that business folks can readily adopt. They include Saleforce.com and Veeva. They give a cloud based solution that can easily do all the functions of gathering ‘present’ day information around your clients and prospects. They also offer the flexibility to offer reports and data so that account reps can easily access via their mobile devices. This puts the traditional ERP packages at a distinct disadvantage because they cannot be easily upgraded with similar functions. Customizing these applications is not a cost effective solution.
The key for many folks considering these solutions is the total cost of ownership (TCO) between the ‘on-demand’ versus the traditional applications. Keep in mind the annual maintenance costs can be higher than expected for some of these applications and there is a cost around developing “integration” points between these packages for your key business processes.
CRM Service Management (SM) from the ERP vendors has all the necessary integration so that your customers can get information not only on their service orders they can use data on the products they own. Customer service agents can easily dispatch field service reps and they can get access to data on the nature of the repair or service needed before the customer site visit. This can happen today because most IT solutions have extended their solutions to work with today’s mobile applications.
So far there are very few customer implementations of ‘on-demand’ service management. Be sure to ask for references when someone tells you they’ve done this in the past.
How to realize a 360 degree view of you customer?
The clients I speak with today have multiple systems that the organization must use to gain this insight. First start by organizing the key items you want your field folks to have to ‘improve’ customer satisfaction? You need to think through ‘business process interaction.’ What do you need from your SFA application and your SM application for a given business process outcome. Remember it is not just present day information your looking to have, it is this plus history and future data around expiring contracts and new service programs that will help your customer facing folks be more ‘effective.’
I would ask your IT service providers the following questions:
- Share examples of where you’ve done Best Practices or Business Process assessments around either sales force automation and/or service management?
- Do you have capabilities with ‘on-demand’ applications like Veeva or Salesforce.com?
- What kind of ability does your firm have around the ‘on-premise’ applications (SAP, Oracle and Microsoft)?
- Do you have industry expertise in Medical Devices?
- Can have you done ‘benefits’ or ‘value’ realization assessments?
My clients are asking for help because the business as asking for change. The business wants to sell more and yet they may not have all the tools necessary to deal with your customers. Asking these questions of your IT service providers can help you find the needed help in reaching a 360 degree view of your customer.