The benefits of cloud technology for life science firms

Developing a new therapeutic takes time, especially when it’s being held back by legacy data management systems. Using the traditional pen-and-paper approach to capture and store data is unreliable – it ensures that data is siloed, and most likely then forgotten.

We know that without access to data and the ability to share it with colleagues, drawing insight is impossible. The knock-on effect here is that innovation is stagnant and throughput reduced.

Research shows that 90 percent of businesses now use cloud technology to increase productivity. Teams use Slack to communicate, marketing and sales use Salesforce, and creatives use Adobe. Similarly, implementing cloud software in the life sciences sector can increase productivity – speeding up research and development (R&D) by 20 percent. This presents a solid business case for technology that scales along with needs and supports all aspects R&D in one single and integrated platform.

For organisations looking to upgrade their data management system, there are a variety of reasons moving to the cloud is a good idea. It is more scalable and cheaper than on-premise as well as being faster to deploy and easier to use. Cloud software requires minimal training – if you use the internet, then you are already familiar with it.

In R&D, where time and costs are major decision drivers, it’s a gamechanger – there is great potential to significantly increase the throughput of viable drugs and therapeutics.

Strengthen collaborations and share data instantly 

When collaborating with an internal or external team, it’s important to be clear on what needs to be done, who’s doing it, and when. But if your data capture tools are outdated and ineffective, data might be incomplete, inaccurate, or missing altogether. Communicating with partners and gaining insight from that data becomes challenging at best.

There is room for these issues and many more to develop when using simple pen-and-paper approaches to log the torrent of data – from experiment results and parameters to calibration/batch records, materials, and so on.

Using spreadsheets, or a combination of paper notebooks and spreadsheets means transferring data between systems – even if this means simply moving bits of paper around. This is time-consuming and can result in inaccurate data. To access data, you must find it in its logbook or spreadsheet, which also takes time – an IDC report even showed that employees can spend 30 percent of their workday searching for information. And even then, you can’t be sure that the information is correct due to accidental human error. Inefficiency is rife and creates significant business issues.

With cloud technology, data capture is automatic, so you don’t have to worry about writing everything into your logbook and finding it later. Storing your experiment data in the cloud also means that you can access it at a touch of a button and share it instantly with colleagues in other departments. This allows everyone to gain timely insights while streamlining the overall throughput. For example, an analytics team can share product attributes with the formulations team, enabling them to choose the right combination for a stable end-product.

For those companies collaborating with external partners working across multiple sites, or with employees working remotely, storing data in the cloud enables them to securely access information regardless of location. There is no need to set up a VPN or rely on IT to offer technical support at unsociable hours. A cloud-based system will do the heavy lifting, providing a flexible and secure environment to collaborate.

On top of this, with cloud deployments, no information is lost in the black hole of emails or sent to the wrong person by mistake. Instead, all data is available instantaneously and accessible to all those with the correct permissions – scalable and secure. 

Get more for your money with cloud deployment 

Most companies that already have a system on-premise may be reluctant to make the shift to the cloud due to fears of preliminary cost and disrupting operations. But a software as a service (SaaS) model can be up and running in just a few hours, and at a fraction of the cost of on-premise installations. Since SaaS is subscription-based, the cost is spread out throughout the year and includes regular upgrades and maintenance. Unlike on-premise and perpetual license models, SaaS can be used on any operating system, and developers have an incentive to continue to roll out updates, fix bugs quickly, and ensure the highest level of security.

By running the software on its own servers in the cloud, SaaS removes the need for expensive specialised equipment, infrastructure databases, or the hiring of an IT specialist to maintain and support its running. SaaS vendors will have their own team of specialists and technical support to help you with the migration and continue to offer any support you might need throughout your use of the software, saving you both time and money. Even if you scale up, you’ll be able to see what the costs are, making budgeting much easier.

Having assistance on hand when you need it (much like your data), drastically reduces the IT department’s workload, enabling them to focus on critical projects to drive innovation. 

Meet regulatory and compliance demands with ease

Cloud software can also help you comply with the high regulatory standards of the life sciences industry. Cloud models are typically architected to adhere to frameworks, which is vital for drug development firms, as failed audits can ultimately result in business failure. Some cloud vendors have ensured that their products can help you comply with industry best practices, including GxP compliance.

How? Organisations can build in controls that flag issues before they cascade to ensure that all data is captured and stored in one location to reduce errors. This helps to boost data integrity.

This approach means that data is tracked, so organisations can see who accessed what data when they did this, and what they did with the data. This level of traceability ensures the information is complete and secure, making audits easier. Data stored in the cloud is routinely and automatically backed up, a process which is normally laborious but necessary to ensure data integrity, meet regulatory demands and propel a product to market.

What R&D organisations need is an end-to-end scientific informatics platform in the cloud that boosts collaboration, streamlines workflows and encourages regulatory compliance at the highest level. It should be scalable, flexible and secure – everything a life sciences business needs to drive innovation and get therapeutics to market faster.

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