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Six Challenges for the Life Sciences Industry in 2018

Victoria Ebel, Appian
December 8, 2017

New breakthroughs in drug development are leading to groundbreaking results that could change lives in 2018 and beyond. However, there are major challenges facing the industry that could prevent this innovation revolution. With the rising costs and increasing complexities involved in bringing products to market, life sciences organizations are reexamining their business operations and technology adoption.

In this edition of our Twelve Days of Digital Transformationblog series, we share our perspective on the top six challenges the life sciences industry will face in 2018 and the ways in which they will successfully address those challenges.

An Aging Portfolio of Legacy Systems

Siloed legacy systems are currently hindering efficiency and productivity in life sciences. A portfolio of disconnected processes makes execution slow and collaboration difficult, ultimately bringing forth unsatisfactory results

Life sciences organizations will increasingly turn to cloud computing to connect processes, open communication, and enhance accuracy and efficiency. An application platform in the Cloud can drive innovation, bringing together siloed systems and processes, and opening communication and collaboration channels across regional divides and throughout the entire product lifecycle.

The Need for Speed to Market

The need to accelerate time-to-market is a pressing challenge for the life sciences industry. With a time-sensitive patent period of 20 years, and a narrow window of product life in market for a drug, there's no time to waste from conception to development, to labeling and the commercialization processes.

In 2018, organizations will increasingly use automation to remove manual slowdowns and provide accuracy that avoids rework. From Robotic Process Automation (RPA), with the ability to perform repetitive tasks such as data entry with a digital workforce, to Artificial Intelligence (AI) assistance for highly skilled knowledge work, automation offers faster time to market and productivity gains.

"Digital labor has tremendous untapped potential when it comes to clinical trials, allowing companies to bring drugs to market on an accelerated timeline." KPMG

Adapting to Evolving Operational Needs

The life sciences industry must adapt to changes in the market. To do this requires an ability to quickly scale to meet operational and infrastructure needs.

Here again, a move to the cloud can greatly improve scalability and flexibility. With the right application platform in the cloud that meets required disciplines and standards, life sciences organizations will be able to deploy IT solutions that can adjust quickly to whatever regulations and market changes arise. Cloud also offers potential for organizational growth, with the ability to scale core IT infrastructure for new trials, products, markets, and/or regional differences.

Dealing with Overwhelming Amounts of Data

Massive amounts of crucial data pertaining to areas such as health statistics, cost of care, and compliance patterns, are all extremely valuable to life sciences organizations, yet, properly sorting through and analyzing this data to make it actionable information is a daunting task.

Automation is a useful tool for sorting through and making sense of Big Data, and life sciences organizations will seek additional ways to bring transparency and actionable views to the data. Our enterprise application platform approach can not only support analytical capabilities that examine mass amounts of data across disparate systems, but also provide users invaluable insight on patients, industry trends, and organizational dynamics. In turn, with a BPM-powered platform approach, companies can use data insights to make business processes more efficient, ultimately saving time and increasing accuracy.

Ensuring Compliance Across Regulatory Guidelines

"The need for compliant and validated systems and processes that deliver accurate and reliable results is necessary to protect human safety in the life science industryÖ" Gartner, Accelerate Digital Capabilities by Migrating Validated Life Sciences Applications to the Cloud, 01 August 2017

Compliance is of the utmost importance for the highly-regulated life sciences industry, but following regulations has grown increasingly difficult for global companies that must adhere to varying regional standards. These standards are constantly evolving, making compliance even more challenging.

As confidence grows in the security and dependability of cloud implementations, life sciences organizations will increasingly turn to the cloud to help standardize the compliance process, making global adherence much easier. Cloud will help organizations with:

    • Faster implementation with integration across multiple sources of truth

    • The ability to run regional applications across the globe

    • Portable and accessible data, making compliance easier

    • The option to make compliance an operational expense rather than a capital one

The Ever-Rising Costs of Development

As drug development becomes increasingly more complex and expensive,the ability for new life-changing products to get to market is being impacted. Streamlining the drug development process in turn will rest increasingly on digital improvements to process and data handling.

In 2018, organizations will seek proven agile technology approaches - like the Appian low-code application platform - that can deliver a faster more cost-effective development process that also promotes innovation in the field. Looking forward, this will greatly impact the industry and provide cost benefits to developers, distributors, and patients alike.

2018, A Tipping Point for Innovation

The coming year is filled with unlimited possibility for the life sciences industry. Innovation is on the horizon...if organizations can establish a strong digital foundation to combat industry challenges.

Learn more about how Appian is helping life sciences organizations digitally transform, and stay tuned for exciting developments in 2018!

Victoria Ebel

Industry Marketing