2020 was the year when the world as we knew it changed irrevocably. With every country struck by the global pandemic, everyone was forced to take drastic measures and rethink how we operate as a society.
Although there’s now a dim light at the end of the tunnel, the world still feels like an uncertain place with recovery not yet secure. During such fragile times, is it possible for a sector such as life sciences to flourish and enjoy success?
Surprisingly, yes. Just like a phoenix, amid the chaos and destruction of the COVID-19 virus, there have emerged real opportunities to grow. Here’s a closer look at how companies can continue to drive success despite the challenging conditions.
Life sciences has traditionally been very slow to embrace digitalisation, clinging on to long-established practices of the past. COVID-19 showed that this approach was negatively influencing its progress, hampering innovation and slowing down new solutions.
There have been good reasons for the conservative approach, as life sciences isn’t a field where it’s wise to be rash. However, moving to digitalise manual processes provides many benefits that enable scalability and support remote working practices. With so many unknown variables in the world, the latter is particularly important. A mechanism where those in the life sciences field can continue to work, communicate and collaborate even when at different locations has never been more vital.
However, the implementation of digitalisation isn’t just as basic as allowing colleagues to work remotely and collaborate. It’s about assessing and redesigning the whole workflow process to be quicker and more streamlined to provide genuine solutions to the market more quickly.
Changes have already started as a result of the pandemic but more work needs to be done in this area. Investment in digitalisation is a major change and requires the whole-hearted buy-in from those at the top. If your organisation isn’t genuinely committed to digitisation and prepared to invest to receive the long-term benefits, you’ll eventually be left behind in a market that has real appetite for change.
In order to achieve innovation and real success, it’s essential for the life sciences sector to collaborate. By pooling resources and sharing data, it’s possible to achieve rapid and significant steps forward within a much shorter space of time.
The implementation of digitalisation forms an integral part of this, enabling global companies to work together in real-time. This sharing of knowledge from around the world was brought sharply to the fore in the COVID-19 crisis, demonstrating the possibilities when parties collaborate.
Cost can often be a factor which puts the brakes on a process or even halts a project completely. Working in tandem with other life science companies opens up new possibilities with costs shared.
It can also very extremely useful when progressing through the regulatory process as this can be expensive, needing input from niche experts along the way. With greater access to a wider range of resources, the end result is likely to be far greater than simply a sum of its parts.
No-one working in the life sciences sector would deny the need for data, but more than ever before, it should be front and centre in research and development. Digitalisation is producing copious amount of data, but without a proper way of harnessing and assessing the information, key opportunities will be lost.
Datasets can be variable as they arise from the use of different techniques and tools, especially when generated by different countries around the world. The collaborative approach means it’s now possible to receive vast quantities of data but there won’t be any discernible benefits without a suitably sophisticated system to carry out the analytics.
This is where artificial intelligence can help, taking large datasets and performing the analysis to produce comparable results. The inclusion of AI could enable search efficiencies to be far greater with more specific analysis and the optimisation of data.
In practical terms, this means that clinical trials could be more meaningful, quicker and more complex. The late-stage failures which are so costly could be significantly reduced and the regulatory process could be hastened.
AI is scalable and offers unlimited opportunities but to drive success, a change in culture is required. AI is so often only used as an ancillary tool rather than one to be trusted on its own merits, and this means that the potential isn’t exploited to the fullest.
By bringing about a culture that’s willing to invest, change and trust in new technology, life sciences companies could find that real success is just around the corner – no matter what else the future may hold.
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