As discussed on the Fisher Bioservices blog, from banking to e-commerce, cloud computing has transformed the landscape of the world economy. It is also gradually changing the face of the biopharma industry. In the scientific world, effective communication and collaboration are essential to successful outcomes. Although biopharma has been slower than some other industries to adopt cloud-based technologies, the field is increasingly relying on the cloud to advance scientific knowledge.
Challenges Facing the Biopharma Industry
At the core of the biopharmaceutical industry is data. Data is generated at every stage of the drug development process, from conducting basic science experiments to managing multi-site collaborations to finalizing a drug patent application. As the biopharma industry adapts to globalization, continued innovation will depend on finding solutions to the challenges of data sharing.
One of the greatest changes in the biopharma industry over the past few decades is an increased emphasis on collaborative relationships. Traditionally, biopharma companies have conducted projects in-house and have been fiercely protective of any information generated. Now, networks of researchers are becoming increasingly flexible. In-house scientists may collaborate with others in the biopharma industry, external research institutes, partners in academia, or contract research organizations. As a result, data sharing solutions need to be flexible and adaptive to this complex environment. The complexity of these partnerships also calls for new project management solutions to ensure that each piece of a project is executed effectively.
The move toward globalization also raises significant challenges regarding data security. When sharing patient data, research groups must ensure that the files are encrypted and stored securely. Not only does this protect proprietary information, but it also preserves participants’ confidentiality in clinical trials, population studies, and other human subject’s research.
It is important for file sharing platforms to help researchers maintain data quality standards. Managing incompatible data formats presents significant challenges for researchers attempting to share the results of chemical or biological assays and experiments. Furthermore, moving between manual data files that may be maintained in-house and collaborative virtual documents that can be shared between sites is particularly error prone.
Harnessing the Power of the Cloud for Better Collaboration in Biopharma
Cloud-based computing has solved many of these challenges and is poised to transform the biopharma industry. Unlike traditional on-site, server-based computing infrastructure, cloud-based services are fast and easy to use. This decreases reliance on IT professionals to build and maintain computing infrastructure. As a result, biopharma companies can become more nimble in a fast-paced business environment.
Additionally, cloud-based technologies cannot be beat in ease of sharing and collaborating. By sharing a collaborative virtual space, project managers can keep the team informed of progress in real time. This allows scientists to become more flexible in troubleshooting problems and responding to new challenges as they arise. This greater transparency also results in less wasted time and effort as the entire team remains apprised of the project status. Furthermore, scientists can spend less time on mundane tasks such as data preparation or manipulation, allowing swift sharing of new information and an increased focus on the scientific aspects of new project developments.
Fears about data security breaches with cloud computing may be managed with careful selection of cloud-based platforms. Data security protocols such as the ISO/IEC 27001 certification standard ensure that data remains safe and secure. Additionally, many cloud-based technologies permit tiers of access to project information, ensuring that team members may access only the information they are authorized to view. This allows the protection of each collaborator’s intellectual property, which is essential in a global data sharing environment.
Biopharma companies must continue to remain flexible and adapt to new technologies in order to remain relevant in our global world. While biopharma has historically been quick to adopt new scientific technologies, such as novel assays or techniques, the move to adopt cloud computing technology has been slower. However, harnessing the power of the cloud has immense potential benefits. The flexibility, real-time sharing, and project management capabilities offered by cloud technologies will continue to transform the face and pace of the biopharma industry.