Digitalization reshuffles the deck in life sciences industry

in Industry insights, 25.01.2018

Life science companies will need an integrated digital data strategy with internal and external processes to stay successful and to make use of the available data. At the center of the new life scienc ecosystem is the patient centric view.

In order to identify the key challenges for the life science industry with regard to digitalization, KPMG conducted interviews with representatives of 75 life sciences companies in Switzerland, Germany and Austria. As the publication “Digitalization in life sciences” shows, the main drivers for change are clear.

New companies enter the digital playing field

The defining characteristic of the new life sciences ecosystem is the patient-centric view. This view is changing day-to-day processes in the industry. It will also upset the major industry players as new companies continue to enter the digital playing field, as some of the most recent industry news in digital diagnostics demonstrate.

To a large extent, life science companies have already recognized that the digital transformation will change their roles in the ecosystem. In Switzerland most respondents (93%) see tech companies as the driving force of digitalization in their industry, followed by medtech and biotechnology companies. Over 60% see tech companies also as possible cooperation partners. Additionally, almost 50% of Swiss respondents see Start-ups as a preferred partner for a joint project, compared to Germany and Austria, where only around 40% are planning in this direction.

Technology disrupts the life sciences value chain

It will be interesting to see how companies approach the playing field: while some adopt a “wait and see” strategy, others are prepared to go at it alone. This is especially true when it comes to blockchain as it requires highly specific knowledge and only pays for itself at a grander scale. It is clear it has not made its way to the front line of life sciences yet: Around 80% of respondents have neither implemented nor plan to implement blockchain to increase efficiency internally.

The need to increase internal efficiency is still recognized by many of the companies. The majority of life sciences companies already apply cloud structures in their IT environments or plan to do so. They see cloud technology as one of the top priorities to enhance efficiency.

When looking at data, around 45% of the companies have already implemented or plan to implement technologies to generate and analyze production and distribution data automatically.

Implementing a holistic digital data strategy across the entire value chain is also high on the agenda with 40% of Swiss companies planning to implement. But only 7% of Swiss respondents (compared to 12% overall) have already implemented such a strategy.

The way forward

Digitalization can only work properly with an integrated system and a dedicated and committed management. This transformation has significant implications for all stakeholders involved. I strongly believe that life sciences companies approaching change proactively and entering into cooperative relationships to advance their digitalization journey will be highly successful.


Full publication: Digitalization in life sciences


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