Cloud infrastructure is enabling big workforce advantages for life science orgs

As companies work to improve their drug discovery processes and foster other new innovations, cloud technology is enabling easier collaboration among researchers worldwide.
By Nathan Eddy
11:07 AM

As cloud technology adoption gathers steam in the life sciences industry, opportunities are rife to put cloud infrastructure to work for the purposes of workforce development, particularly in the service of fostering faster, more seamless collaboration and communication between colleagues.

Take for example the discovery process that could help develop a cure or a new drug. Cloud-based technology allows that information to be more easily managed and distributed on a global scale—something life science companies with on-premises solutions would struggle to execute.

Cloud technology enables the breaking down of silos and connects workers, however far-flung their physical location, to work in partnership.

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As it does, it's often redefining the way life sciences companies think about their approach to creative collaboration, experts say – enabling faster and more efficient review processes, for instance, for more cohesive feedback on research results.

Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, says health organizations' general new comfort level with the security and data privacy of the cloud has enabled life sciences and pharmaceutical companies to connect applications networks and devices to a cloud infrastructure in ways they haven't before

"A lot of these organizations require collaboration across subsidiaries, and want to avoid redundancies that could be costly," said Ponemon. "These life science organizations have many departments, maybe across the world – trying to manage that from an IT infrastructure perspective is a difficult task."

He explained what the cloud allows an organization to do is deploy tools and devices more quickly, creating more efficiency in the labor force.

"Bringing people together faster and more effectively, that's what the cloud can do," Ponemon noted. "A large cloud infrastructure can give you global reach – not just within your organization, but to other organizations."

In addition, cloud-based workforce automation give companies the ability to quickly deploy application, or rapidly identify people inside or outside the organization with similar interests. Ponenom said that can be one of the main selling points of cloud migration for workforce development needs.

"In life sciences the challenges to enabling better global collaboration are the same any large corporate venture," Nick Maynard, senior analyst for Juniper Research, told Healthcare IT News. "Data is often held in silos, which means that different teams can be working on related areas but not have access to each other's data or even know it is happening."

Maynard explained that by connecting global teams through cloud computing, these silos could be combined to enable easier access to data.

"However, this would still be heavily reliant on internal policy," he noted. "Companies may be reluctant to share data too extensively, even internally, due to commercial sensitivity."

He explained cloud-based systems can also be used to enable collaborative working on documents, or easier messaging between units.

"Although cloud technology enables different data sets to be stored together, rather than in discrete silos, the siloing of data does not necessarily stop with cloud deployment," Maynard said. "It will be up to companies to determine how comfortable they are with sharing data more widely across organizations."

He also noted communication is a highly important benefit to workforce development and an area where cloud technology could be useful to life sciences organizations.

"In large organizations, breaking down barriers between different areas can add value and improve the way in which current communications processes are handled, as well as creating new opportunities to create communication between areas which were previously disconnected," Maynard said.

He explained this allows for greater pooling of knowledge, and can also boost staff retention by identifying opportunities that were previously unavailable, such as relocations to other areas.

"Shared communications also enables teams to work remotely, which is beneficial when talent can't be appropriately sourced all in one location," he said.

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.
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Twitter: @dropdeaded209

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