Silos in Pharma – The Data Issue
November 28, 2019
Arthur Clack
1 minute

A key component of product innovation in the pharmaceutical industry is the analysis of data. Yet, the Pharma industry can be diagnosed as suffering with one particular problem: the prevalence of data silos.

Often stored across disparate tools and locations, the isolation of data severely impacts the opportunity for Pharma companies to cross-collaborate internally, harming scientific discovery and drug development. Fortunately, this can be addressed.

So why exactly are data silos so bad? Well, within an organisation they affect trust, impair transparency and reduce efficiency, contributing to the record costs and diminished R&D productivity that exists within Pharma. That’s because they:

  • Prevent cross-functional collaboration: teams work independently without access to data from other business units, creating a divided, inefficient organisation. 
  • Slow progress: the need to locate, access and analyse data for individual purposes reduces the speed of project completion.
  • Increase costs: storing the same information in different formats and locations is costly and inefficient.
  • Host stale data: information in isolation is more likely to become outdated when it isn’t cross-referenced or updated, leading to confusion and disruption to project progress.

The rise of new era medicine means pharma companies need to expand their innovation ecosystems to include external partners. But organisations must learn to walk before they run; they should solve issues inside the company before they seek ideas outside. There are three solutions to this.

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1. Culture change:

Before considering the purchase of any tool or application to consolidate data silos, teams and business units must be willing to use it. Employees from different business units need to be aligned by actively encouraging the sharing of data. Change can be affected through strategic company wide projects that require departments to collaborate more.

2. Enable cross-functional collaboration:

Cross-functional collaboration calls for the formation of new internal partnerships, which in turn requires alignment, accountability and ownership to succeed. This can only work where data is shared and attained from a single source of truth that everyone can access. Solutions like Vizibl are designed to enable business units to scale effective collaboration internally as well as externally on supplier facing projects that drive innovation, competitive advantage and growth.

3. AI & Blockchain:

The widespread adoption of artificial intelligence and blockchain can help to nurture collaborative working environments where transparent and secure data-sharing practices take hold. AI in particular has revolutionised how companies farm and interpret data, providing a space for innovation to thrive.

From R&D to marketing, innovation to procurement, data is used across disciplines to ideate, create, develop and improve; that’s why the ubiquity of functional data silos in Pharma directly harms innovation. By breaking down silos, Pharma companies can unlock the full value of available data to drive forward unique drug developments faster, something which benefits us all.

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