Four Ways Biotech Firms Can Squeeze Digital Advantage Out of Cloud Solutions

April 18, 2019

Pharmaceutical Executive

Adopting a cloud-based solution has exponential benefits to biopharma firms.

Biotech startups have a single-minded focus: transforming the future of health and wellness. With such an ambitious goal, things like office space or on-site IT can become cumbersome and distracting. Instead, many of these companies look to co-working spaces and cloud solutions to boost their collaborative capacity.

Operating virtually is not without its challenges. For instance, co-working facilities often have minimal cybersecurity infrastructure in place. If just one employee makes a mistake, he or she might put sensitive company data and intellectual property at risk. If multiple companies are sharing the same co-working network, they become vulnerable to end users who aren't even a part of their organization.

Security is by no means the only obstacle when it comes to having a dynamic employee structure. Fostering communication and collaboration isn’t necessarily easy when people only interact through digital channels. Often, companies treat the digital workplace as they would a physical office, which can create friction and silos in everyday processes and result in missed opportunities to meet unique employee distribution.

One of our clients with employees across the U.S. has struggled with communication and collaboration in its organization. With no sense of consistency, the system felt patchworked and didn't have the capacity to serve employees. Even worse, this struggle made it difficult to keep intellectual property and data secure.

The question is whether the advantages of working virtually in the cloud outweigh the challenges. The answer: a resounding yes. Being unencumbered by a traditional office lends biotech startups greater flexibility and agility.

If biotech startups can operate from anywhere, the cloud becomes their home base. As with any mission-critical business asset, not just any option or platform will do. Moving to the cloud is important. Engineering the right kind of cloud is even more so.

This article will discuss how businesses have moved past simply looking for general benefits in their cloud services and have instead moved toward maximizing their digital transformation capabilities. It will also explain how biotech startups can use their cloud solutions for data security, scalability, and adaptability.

The myth of the one-size-fits-all cloud

The case for the cloud is undeniable, especially for small and midsize biotech firms. Cloud applications are less expensive, are easier to maintain, and provide integrative cybersecurity. Don’t assume, though, that all cloud solutions are created equal.

Companies often take a set-it-and-forget-it approach to the cloud. They move forward assuming everything has been optimized and that performance, service, or security issues are automatically addressed. For example, when performance or service issues arise, cloud-based savings can quickly disappear.

The key is finding cloud solutions that meet biotech-specific needs. Data organizing, sharing, and security are essential in this business, so those should be the pillars of your cloud infrastructure.

A tailored cloud also offers unique advantages such as reduced labor costs through automation, fewer capital expenses, and lower real estate and energy spend. Moreover, new technologies deliver value to your employees immediately following implementation.

Four key components of every cloud

Everyone’s cloud will (and should) look a little bit different. But there are a few key components that all cloud systems should possess:

  • Business-class email and online meetings: Communication is key when you can’t meet face to face. Business-class email offers stronger performance and security compared to free alternatives, so information can flow freely without liabilities. Online meeting apps recreate the camaraderie of the office in a space enhanced by digital tools and conveniences. Together, they keep everyone, and everything coordinated.

    We have a client that started using an online platform to give its employees the flexibility to work remotely from different devices and communicate with one another in real time. It also uses an integrated calendar and videoconferencing to keep everyone connected.
     

  • Shared and managed content: Treat the cloud like a single source of truth for everyone in the organization. When someone has questions, wants to explore information, or needs a specific reference document, he or she should be able to find it in the cloud. Systems that include extensive content are invaluable collaboration tools. Some of our clients even use platforms that celebrate corporate milestones, recognize employee achievements, and share industry news to foster a more collaborative culture.
     

  • Automated processes: Biotech breakthroughs take massive amounts of data and analysis. Automated processes can expedite the most complex and time-consuming work and free up small firms to use their resources elsewhere. At the same time, smart systems minimize errors and maximize efficiency for smoother daily operations.

    We worked with a client that reported more scalable and cutting-edge abilities to handle customer orders after implementing cloud solutions. It's being able to respond to customer questions, maintain an efficient supply chain, and spend less time getting products to market because automated processes freed up time for the company and employees.
     

  • Telemetry and applied analytics: Telemetry records data about business performance that applied analytics can turn into actionable insights. Firms armed with those insights can make improvements to all of their business processes, leading to higher productivity, faster innovation, and better remote coordination.

    I recently worked with a biotech company that's using a platform that incorporates data preparation, discovery, interactive dashboards, and augmented reality into one single channel. As a company that collaborates often with other research facilities, it's being able to track the progress of its work using this platform that streamlines its processes.

Fast-moving biotech firms might not think they have enough time to vet cloud offerings, but they don’t have time to waste on IT problems either. By establishing a strong foundation at the outset, you can better dedicate your attention and energy to what matters most.

 

Michael Hadley is the CEO and president of iCorps Technologies