The life sciences industry has historically lagged behind other sectors when it comes to digital transformation. But the COVID-19 pandemic has made digitization a business and economic necessity for most companies almost overnight.
Life sciences businesses simply can't afford to wait any longer to make the leap to digitization if they hope to survive in a post-pandemic economy.
Digital Challenges in the Life Sciences
To understand why digital transformation is so important for this space as it battles the coronavirus, it's important to examine some of the challenges that have hindered its technological growth over the past decade.
Regulatory Compliance Mandates
The life sciences industry is subject to some of the strictest regulatory mandates of any industry along with the financial services industry. Ensuring compliance across a growing and broad field of rules and regulations can be a challenge for many companies.
The FDA's Corrective Action Preventative Action (CAPA) requirement for medical device manufacturing is one of the biggest challenges in the industry, particularly for businesses that don't have comprehensive tracking systems in place.
Digitization and the cloud can offer an integrated, cohesive approach to tracking and compliance, with built-in security, speed and accessibility. Having an enterprise-wide view of regulatory risks and challenges is the key to keeping operations running smoothly and complying with federal and global mandates, particularly during and after a worldwide pandemic.
Data Management and Integration
As a growing, competitive sector, the life sciences industry is subject to a large number of mergers and acquisitions. As companies absorb one another, data management and integration can become a major challenge, compounded by siloed and often outdated legacy systems.
An integrated, digital approach that creates a unified environment for business systems and processes is essential for success and long-term viability in the new economy emerging from COVID-19 since even those firms that survive the economic chaos will need to make processes more digital and integrated with other systems.
A comprehensive, and preferably cloud-based ERP system, offers the necessary tools to integrate disparate, siloed business systems and processes. ERP solutions are ideal for companies gearing up for an IPO, merger or acquisition, offering support for all stages of business growth.
Supply Chain Challenges
The coronavirus has impacted the supply chain globally across all industries, and life sciences companies have been hit particularly hard. Multi-channel and omni-channel distribution are becoming the norm out of necessity, and companies must diversify and embrace digitization or risk being bumped out of the marketplace.
A digital, cloud-based approach to supply chain visibility, tracking and transactions is a necessary tool for this technological transformation. AI, automation and machine learning also have roles to play in changing supply chain dynamics.
Digitization has the capacity to automatically identify shortages, changes and other trends that could negatively impact the supply chain. And an ERP system can take the next step and map out alternative distributors or routes to ensure goods and equipment are getting to their intended locations as quickly as possible.
Inefficient and technologically lacking clinical trials have been a pain point for the life sciences industry for a long time. Data quality, patient retention and a lack of flexibility with the trial process have all presented challenges, which must be overcome to battle COVID-19.
According to research from Blue Fountain Media, adoption of digitization has been key to increasing the efficiency of clinical trials.
“Digital recruiting has been key for patient health monitoring, improving how pharma companies interact with patients and develop new drugs, and more effectively connecting patients and healthcare over customer portals. Voice assistance and blockchain have revolutionized clinical trials.”
A secure, cloud-based system for managing the trial process efficiently and cost effectively is essential for success. An offering that supports regulatory compliance, cost effectiveness and high levels of security and digital trust is necessary as the world wages war on the coronavirus.
Embracing the Cloud
The life sciences sector has been slow to embrace the cloud for a variety of reasons. The regulatory compliance mandates and perceived security challenges mentioned above have certainly hindered adoption.
But as COVID-19 fundamentally changes the entire global business landscape, life sciences companies can no longer afford to avoid the cloud. Cloud infrastructure and ERP systems impact virtually every aspect of the life sciences business model, from integrating workers and systems to better managing the supply chain.
Features like embedded analytics and easy scalability offer major benefits for businesses of all sizes. And predictable expenditures that may be calculated as regular operating expenses make a cloud platform a very attractive option for any life sciences business.
A global digital transformation was already well underway before COVID-19 struck. Now the move to digitization has been accelerated exponentially as companies are forced to take advantage of new ways of doing business to remain competitive during a challenging time.
A cloud-based ERP system offers a host of advantages for life sciences companies seeking a unified, holistic approach to digitization. Any company that has dealt with the challenges outlined above can jump-start the path to digitization through a comprehensive, cloud ERP solution.