Introduction Big Data in the Life Science and Pharmaceutical Industry
A key driving factor in the life science and pharmaceutical industry is the possibility to handle large volumes of data in order to access, manage and analyze the data. To be able to gain business efficiency and a good performance, the drug development needs to take place in a best time to market relationship. Therefore, more completed clinical trials are necessary in a shortened timeframe. An acceleration in the drug development leads to an improved drug pipeline, less costs and faster product releases and therefore better profitability.
Preface: From January 2016 to July 2016, I wrote my master’s thesis at fme in Brunswick, Germany. In the following blog post I am summarizing my thesis and thank all these people who supported me. Especially, my advisor and the IT department.
Tobias Stein, September 2016
Exponential data growth rates make the management of content an enormous challenge for organizations. Terms like »information overload« and »content chaos« express the inefficient situation regarding content management on an enterprise-wide scale. Employees search for documents in different versions, languages and formats across various repositories and systems through the entire company. However, these documents contain important and decision-relevant information that are becoming a key business resource. Moreover, compliance with statutory regulations and technical requirements with respect to storing huge amounts of data are complicated.
Mobile apps and Big Data are important topics, which are more and more relevant in the Life Science Industry. New media is available on a global base. That’s the reason why people and companies have to adapt their processes to this new digital age. People search for information on the internet and often trust blogs or forums more than the old fashioned ways. For medical problems they do not only trust doctors, but inform themselves on the web. The new social media has big influence on the ways on how information is provided and received. Also the way of interactive information exchange has changed. Formulas are used in a digital way, either on websites or also on mobile apps. Therefore data has to be accessed in a global way. Mobile apps are used outside of secure networks; therefore, also the related data has to be stored secure in a global way, which allows access from the internet.
Although both industries – Discrete Manufacturing and Process Manufacturing – are completely different, I see some similarities.
10 years ago, the only competitive threat for a traditional OEM came from another traditional OEM. All R&D Managers had an arrogant smile on the face when they heard about a small US company, which was entering the market with electric cars. Today this company – Tesla – is also an established player. But new competitors do appear on the horizon: Apple, Google, Uber and others. Companies with no knowledge about how to build, sell and maintain a car. Why is this possible?
Word has gotten around that big data is a new and promising IT discipline. There are many examples of successful big data applications. They include connected cars, mobile adversing and security analytics just to name a few. Not much is heard from the life science industry. Clearly the lines between medical devices and lifestyle products such as fitness trackers are gradually blurring.
Bitkom surveyed 102 companies from the pharmaceuticals sector about the digital transformation in 2015. According to this survey, 97 per cent of pharmaceutical companies believe that lifestyle products are going to make a significant contribution to operating results in the future. These companies would therefore hold an important component of the new value chain: the sensor that records a variety of vital functions.
Lately I have been talking to different clients about their journey into the digital transformation, cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT). We are looking into how we can help them to fully exploit the possibilities of existing technologies and business models and furthermore challenge existing business models through existing and new technologies. In the course of this I finally got my hands on a bunch of Amazon dash buttons. Despite that I’m not able to use them as intended (only US, only Amazon prime), buying detergents or diapers just by pushing the button, I am quite happy! The dash buttons are remarkable IoT devices and representing a milestone in technical evolution affecting the lives of most of us.
Remarkable, milestone, evolution, revolution… isn’t it just a button able to order some goods or products? I think it’s far more, Amazon paved the way for IoT business for retail and consumer markets. They standardized a powerful hardware setup for low cost, running infrastructures capable and scalable to handle any amount of purchase requests, provide easy setups for the users and alongside ease customer loyalty and are attractive to vendors, selling their goods.
In it’s latest Enterprise release Alfresco bridges the divide between it’s on premise server product and its cloud offering. The Alfresco cloud, that has been introduced in May 2012, provides an online collaboration platform that can be used to collaborate on projects without the need to set up and host an Alfresco server yourself.
Naturally, every company wants to keep their internal document management system as secure as possible and on premise systems are rarely opened up to the internet or even VPNs used by external partners.
With the latest version 4.1 Alfresco has introduced a Cloud Sync capability, which allows users of an on premise Alfresco Enterprise system to make documents available in the Alfresco Cloud and allow synchronization of changes in both directions. This enables the users to collaborate on select documents with external partners while business critical and confidential documents stay securely in the on premise document management system.