Pharma excels at SaaS three-legged race

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Graphic courtesy of Planet WebQuest
Graphic courtesy of Planet WebQuest

As the weather warms up here in the U.S., it’s time for picnics, school fairs and field days. And you know what that means: three-legged races.

When you really think about it, a three-legged “race” is about collaboration as much as it is speed. It’s about working in unison toward a particular goal. The better you collaborate, the faster you can go.

So what do three-legged races have to do with software-as-a-service and the pharmaceutical industry?

Many organizations are turning to SaaS to get new applications up and running faster, so that they can achieve desired business objectives faster. It’s all about speed to outcome.

Some have argued that this need for speed is encouraging business leaders to sidestep their IT departments when purchasing SaaS, creating what’s often called “shadow IT”. This has created controversy around SaaS – and angst among IT leaders.

But the truth is many companies are actually cultivating a strong working relationship between IT and business leaders through SaaS. To get the speed and results they’re seeking, they’ve found they need to work in tandem, much like a three-legged race. This is particularly true among leading companies, according to the IBM Global SaaS study.

When the IBM Center for Applied Insights examined the SaaS study data by industry, it found something even more intriguing to me, given my focus on the Pharma industry.

Chart for SaaS pharma blogIn 94% of pharmaceutical enterprises surveyed, IT and business leaders collaborate to a high degree when selecting and deploying SaaS solutions. That’s remarkably pervasive. And Pharma is, by far, the clear champion among industries.

So, what’s driving Pharma to tie IT and business leaders together in the race to market?

I see two key factors prompting this extreme level of collaboration:

SaaS supports strategic Pharma moves.
As we work with organizations in this industry, we’re observing high levels of cloud adoption in areas that directly impact their core business – such as clinical development, clinical trial management, and sales and marketing. They’re focused on using cloud for critical business applications, as opposed to platform or infrastructure. Business leaders are keenly interested in these initiatives because they can provide significant competitive advantage and directly affect revenue and operational efficiency.

For example, managing clinical trials in a cloud-based environment allows for faster trial set up, while easing management, data aggregation and analysis, especially when trials are spread across multiple sites. Similarly, cloud-based applications can enable mobility for their sales forces – such as tablet apps for mobile CRM and on-the-go access to accurate product and marketing information.

Since these initiatives help transform core business processes, business leaders are often extremely involved, if not the primary champions pushing for these solutions.

Strategic applications require cross-enterprise cohesion.
To successfully change how work gets done, these core applications also need to fit with everything else. This requires IT leadership. A common misconception is that moving to a cloud model eliminates the need for IT. It doesn’t. Although cloud eliminates many of the tedious tasks of installing and maintaining infrastructure, operating systems, and platforms, there is still a need for data governance, integration and management. Can we share data across applications? Will these applications integrate with our existing investments?

Business leaders need IT’s expertise to ensure cohesion across the enterprise. As stewards of a company’s information and technology assets, IT understands the need for well-defined security policies, compatibility and scalability – factors that business leaders may (unintentionally) overlook, underestimate or believe are “automatically provided.”

Simply put, strategic use of SaaS requires a strong LOB/IT partnership.

So, as your enterprise considers new SaaS applications, think of the cooperation needed in a three-legged race. Getting the business and IT in sync will help the entire team race faster toward your goals.

2 thoughts on “Pharma excels at SaaS three-legged race

    Lauren O'Donnell said:
    4-Jun-2014 at 8:54 pm

    Leonard, Very interesting insights, thanks for sharing!

    Like

    […] industry is the clear leader when it comes to outcomes achieved through SaaS. To understand why, we tapped an expert in both Pharma and SaaS to explain. He highlighted how, within the Pharma industry, IT and LOB tend to work together. His reasoning: […]

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