Rebooting Life Sciences with Digital

Oct 12, 2017

Mastering digital business strategies and tactics will enable life sciences companies to supercharge innovation and speed therapy discovery, patient centric-practices and improved health outcomes. That’s the outlook from life sciences executives themselves, according to research done by Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work in conjunction with the renowned economist Nouriel Roubini. Bhaskar Sambasivan looks at the key themes the research uncovered:

•      Growth will increase as pharma digitizes. Executives surveyed estimate sensors, smart processes, the Internet of Things and even smart digestibles will help pharma and medical device companies create more than $877 billion in value this year alone.

•     Being slow to embrace digital is costly. Companies behind the digital curve are paying an annual “laggard penalty,” i.e., the difference in both cost and revenue performance due to technology acceleration. A margin of just 1% differentiates digital leaders from laggards in life sciences—but the gap is widening. This year, that penalty could add up to $650 million.

•     Data mastery will unlock future value. More than half of the executives said making meaning out of the data generated by processes that stretch from R&D through patient aftercare is critical to driving innovation. Doing that will require strengthening master data management architectures and extracting data throughout the value chain.

•      Platforms will catalyze digital innovation. Platforms, layers of software built around a specific pharmaceutical process, clinical need or patient requirement, will feed on the data from wearables, sensors, apps and many other sources. Analytics will find the patterns that will inform the research, manufacturing and distribution of new therapies and devices, while Application Program Interfaces (API) into platforms will make it easier for a wide variety of partners to develop new services. Digital platforms already are reducing the cost of clinical trials, accelerating time-to-market for efficacious new therapies.

•     Strategic and analytic talent will take center stage.  The top talent capability for 2020, cited by 84% of the respondents, is big data/analytics. Data modeling technologies, visualization techniques and statistical capabilities are prerequisites for low-cost diagnostics, effective disease management processes and evidence-based clinical decision making.  Further, 75% of the respondents plan to strengthen business strategy skills to successfully navigate future partnerships with tech titans or industry consortiums.

Digital momentum continues to build. The prescription for thriving in the new digital economy is harnessing digital, especially data and analytics, with all that entails, to reshape the value chain and reengineer how life sciences organizations drive, guide and sustain innovation. Organizations taking their digital medicine now will gain steady advantages—and measurable financial results—vs. those that wait.

Bhaskar Sambasivan is SVP & Global Markets Leader, Cognizant Life Sciences.

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