IT Predictions for 2011 from IDC Health Insights

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Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - January/February 2011

Industry analysts see more cloud computing, more corporate data-sharing

In conducting surveys of life sciences IT execs and evaluating the technical capabilities of new IT offerings, IDC Health Insights (Framingham, MA) has a somewhat different perspective on industry trends than Wall Street analysts. One common way of tracking industry trends is analyzing the research targets of companies—new molecules or new physiological mechanisms. In contrast, the IT trends that IDC tracks provide a valuable window to business conditions that the industry is experiencing. Knowing where IT investment bets are being made is a statement as to where industry managers are seeking the strongest commercial and operational advantages.

With that in mind, here are IDC’s predictions for the coming year:

• Globalization efforts in the life science industry will continue to grow and expand, with key drivers shifting from cost savings to emerging market opportunities.

• Pharma crm will go to the cloud and will not look back.

• Mobile technologies will become a significant contributor to growth and productivity across the life science industry.

• Hosted and software as a service (SaaS) will grow rapidly as the preferred approach to application and solution delivery in pharmaceutical R&D.

• Data integration investments will finally begin to deliver results as companies begin to routinely access corporate data resources on a more real-time basis and extract applicable knowledge in support of strategic decision making.

• Investment in global network infrastructure will expand to support growing business needs and industry interconnectivity

• Translational research will become a mainstream part of new drug development with major new insights driving new therapeutic approaches to disease management.

• Pharmaceutical manufacturers will step up product serialization efforts, with at least 50% of the industry fully serializing one or more product lines down to the item level by the end of 2011.

• Investment in sales and marketing analytics will begin a three- to five-year investment growth cycle, fueled by aggregate promotional spend compliance, gift ban laws, and looming sunshine laws.

• Pricing and contract management system investments will rise in 2011 as fears of a double-dip recession fade and companies increase focus on global expansion.

Many of these predictions are self-explanatory; mobile technologies, for example, are all the buzz across all types of businesses and not just life sciences. But some of the more-specific predictions are grounded in events already occurring in the industry. For example, even as the US Supreme Court considers the privacy and First-Amendment issues around prescriber data (p. 16), and yet more aggregate-spending IT solutions are being provided, the industry is putting a stronger emphasis on data analytics for marketing and forecasting.

The 50% serialization prediction appears to be ambitious, but if it is to be achieved, the driver will be multinational pharmas dealing with markets outside the US, while coincidentally getting ready for the 2015 deadline of the California Board of Pharmacy. There continues to be talk of reviving a national serialization and pedigree program in the US; at presstime FDA had scheduled a workshop for mid-February on the topic. But many manufacturers, bruised by the resistance of other parts of the supply chain (including retail pharmacy) to adopt end-to-end drug tracking the last time this topic was on the front burner, might be hesitant to move aggressively.

Overall, IDC notes a macro environment that shapes both these trends and the indsutry’s prospects: “As one of the top global growth categories worldwide, the life science ecosystem, and the greater health industry overall, remains highly dynamic and transformative as it pursues long-term growth and sustainability. We anticipate that 2011 will be no different and expect continued progress in a number of areas, including outsourcing and M&A.”

The full report, “US Life Sciences 2011 Top 10 Predictions,” H1226419, is available from IDC.

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