How Technology is Disrupting the Pharma and Life Sciences Industry

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The Pharma and Life Sciences have a reputation of lagging behind in certain technology areas, either because of fears around regulatory concerns or the cost of migrating legacy applications. Founded or not, companies with a legacy set of applications face a challenge of how to move to modern solutions like Cloud, robotic process automation, micro-services, AI/ML, AR/ VR, and the host of other acronyms you read about daily.

See Also: Life Science Review

Add to those concerns, from a pure financial point of view, it rarely makes sense: retiring a fully capitalized system with very few resources supporting it cannot be justified in a vacuum. But the reality is that your legacy systems are the anchor that will keep you moving forward.

It’s more than the fact that newly hired employees may prefer to work on more modern applications. It’s more than the issue of silos working separately, and not overall outcomes based. Legacy applications will always be the long pole in the tent.

You can certainly put in an integration platform, but you will always find yourself throttled by the underlying legacy systems. So where do you start?

See Also: Life Science Review

First, start with a vision … something akin to “We will be 100% cloud-based by 2023” and pivot your entire organization to that goal. Don’t create multiple separate initiatives with as many architects. Instead, create a cross-functional group that understands the vision and has the technical abilities to create.

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This may mean pulling people out of their groups into a “Vision 2023” group. Focus them on how to power outcomes, getting your data ready for future technologies, and blueprinting thigs like AI/ML but delivering on the practical. Whiteboard your pain points and divide into two categories: “Simple” and “Complex.”

See Also: Life Science Review

The simple should be simple; complex should be possible. Often, we make the simple complex and the complex impossible. For the “Simple” ones, just do them. Don’t debate, don’t create committees, don’t let internal politics stop you. If you cannot get past the simple, you’ll never get to the complex.

For the “Complex” ones, break them down so they can be simple and put them out on a Horizon Chart: Horizon 1–3. Spend time on what Horizon 3 should look like, but agree to a clear vision on how to get to your end-state. Getting from “here” to “there” is never onestep, but a journey. It is, however, a journey needs that needs an endpoint.

As you make your journey to cloud-only, new initiatives should be cloud-first … don’t go and create “new legacy” applications simple because you don’t think your organization is ready. You can make it ready thru leadership. Use new initiatives as an opportunity for “mini disruptions.”

See Also: Life Science Review

It’s not a technology issue but a cultural one. Your SOPs can survive the move to the Cloud, don’t think otherwise. The major cloud players have already figured it out better than you can … or at least, have some trust that they have. Pick one of the major players and let that be your architecture: don’t get lost in the “best in breed” mentality, pick the environment that works best for you. Mostly a Microsoft shop? Go Azure and move on. Same thought process with Google and AWS.

Finally, remember modernizing IT never stops. The legacy applications of today were the forward-thinking ones of yesterday. As you move away from your legacy applications, legacy data centers, legacy business process, legacy anything, remember that what you replace it with has the danger of becoming the next evil legacy application. So never forget to keep your applications regularly updated, exploring the next “new” thing and decide if you should advance your applications in that direction.

Small, iterative upgrades will keep you current and avoid the situation many are in today with systems that were left on auto pilot, but have nowhere left to go.

See Also: Life Science Review

The concept of 3D printing is not new. The innovations and cost reductions of the last few years have reduced the barrier to adoption, which has enabled 3D printing to be more common in research, design, and manufacturing settings. 3D printing technology is hugely versatile, as the deposited materials can be plastics, ceramics, metals, powders, liquids, or living cells.

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The 3D printing process is accurate, repeatable, scalable, and cost-effective for production runs of highly customized parts. 3D printing for the life science R&D Market can revolutionize the industry. For life sciences companies, 3D printing advances can solve the key challenges of innovation. Know more here.

According to experts, life sciences companies in the future will not sell drugs but chemical inks, applications, and blueprints. Organizations would have to completely revamp their development and manufacturing models and the way they manage customer relationships. Additionally, 3D printing changes how many labs approach the prototyping of new products as conventionally. Going from the design to the prototype could be an expensive and time-consuming task.

3D printing materials are rapidly becoming the new standard as high resolution, and exact dimensions can be attained with micron precision rapidly and inexpensively, enabling faster development times. Once developed and uploaded to the printer, the actual fabrication time is freed up while the printer does the task. 3D printers can develop tissue holders and slide holders for custom drug discovery projects for use with its high content imager.

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Lastly, 3D printing can turn a profit. Many life sciences companies stumble onto ideas for products after addressing their need for something not readily available on the market. As an R&D department solves a problem, it becomes clear that others in the field are facing this same challenge and would pay for an inexpensive and customized solution. Rapid sectioning of tissues will look like a problem with either expensive or low-quality solutions. Therefore, 3D printers will take a few CAD hours for designing, durable, and rapid solutions for the problem.

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I am a technology blogger, who loves to read and write on the latest in technology.

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