Pharma's Need to Know

Aug. 22, 2014
Information technology remains the lamp illuminating a path to operational truth

Welcome to Pharmaceutical Manufacturing’s Information Technology Almanac 2014. We’ve departed from our usual format to deliver a special issue designed, like Farmers’, to provide a handy reference with information to help operational types like yourself get the most from large fields of data generated by your organization and its operations. For example, we’re featuring several case studies that reveal keen insight into how industry leaders are implementing IT solutions. Up first, though, is “What’s Trending in IT 2014” covering a virtual panel discussion between some of the industry’s IT technology leaders to get a first-hand look at how their customers are leveraging the software platforms and informatics systems they’ll need to manage the complexities of drug manufacture in the 21st century.

I asked each of my “panelists” a series of questions and their answers are in the pages that follow. However, of those questions, I asked what they thought were the biggest innovations in IT systems for life sciences environments and what did they consider the “bleeding edge” as far as the technology goes. “It is impossible to talk about IT innovation in life sciences without talking about the shifts in business models that are forcing these changes,” says Veeva Systems’ Jennifer Goldsmith. She explains that the expanding use of contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) is driving organizations to evaluate how they can best leverage recent innovations in cloud capabilities and mobility. “Cloud applications are easily accessible,” notes Goldsmith, “enabling all parties to collaborate regardless of location — while allowing companies to retain control and maintain regulatory compliance.”

Global, information sharing is also on the mind of Brian Vogel, representing Rockwell Automation. “There is an underlying need to reduce total cost of production and standardize execution through the use of IT and enterprise systems,” he says. “This will drive single-site, multi-type and multi-product manufacturing locally while sharing the information globally.” The innovations he sees driving competitive agility include the use of wireless mobility, the cloud, data/hardware farms, remote access, and innovative execution interfaces and wearable devices like Google’s glasses.

Werum IT Solutions Rolf Blumenthal finds that “in the area of IT technology, mobile computing is a trend where the expectations for solutions are high.” No doubt because mobile technologies are here to stay and the interface opportunities and connectivity they offer is becoming almost mandatory when it comes to managing complex operations. BIOVIA’s Gene Tetreault notes that the Internet of Things is a really interesting concept because it marries device identity schemes with operational routines. “I’m really excited about where we can go,” he says, “Google Glass has tremendous potential because it mixes physical reality of the lab with the virtual reality of the data available.” In other words, there’s already a pair of glasses available to any manager wanting to gain a deeper kind of operational clarity — and that’s certainly a vision we can all share.

Read the 2014 IT Almanac here

About the Author

Steven E. Kuehn | Editor-in-Chief