The end of last century witnessed Industrial revolution 3 popularly known as the digital revolution and now industries are gearing for industrial revolution 4.0 or IR 4.0 For those who are not aware of this, Technology writer, Alasdair Gilchrist, describes Industry 4.0 as the convergence of people, physical systems, and data within an industrial process to increase quality, productivity and profit by using the power of advanced data analytics.
We know the pace of technology adoption isn’t the strong point of pharmaceuticals. High compliance and regulatory guidelines coupled with the high cost of maintenance make them reluctant to move from legacy systems. However, the adoption of IR 4.0 is different in the sense that it will revolutionize the way we interact with data. We will be armed with technology that will move past unstructured, dispersed and incomplete data. Predictive big data analysis will bring newer insights that are currently in a nascent stage. It’s about time pharma companies jump into the revolution wagon and make themselves future-ready because it is the only sustainable solution.
First things first, is your organization digitally transformed? If not, I would highly recommend you consult some Pharma IT solution providers and have a clear estimate of the current technology stack and commercial viability for the transformation. Without Digital transformation is impossible to leap to IR 4.0. You need to look for efficient migration of your data to the cloud and bridge the gap. Once you are in the cloud you can gradually transition into the latest technologies.
Today we will discuss a few pharma IT technologies that are trending and IR 4.0 ready.
Pharma IT trends
RPA: Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the technology that enables us to configure computer software, or a ‘robot’ to emulate and integrate the actions of a human interacting within digital systems to execute a business process. RPA has several used cases from Clinical development to supply chain management. It is also being used to enhance precision marketing and salesforce operations.
Cloud computing: Cloud computing can facilitate faster innovation, leaner innovation and streamline processes. AI-based drug development in the cloud is now a reality. If you are a Drug Discovery Company, you can avail of cloud-based high-performance computing (HPC). Cloud today offers social listening tools that help understand volunteer experience in clinical trials. Cloud can help companies come together to share a common platform while keeping independent data secured. However, companies often face customization issues on cloud and stick to on-premise infrastructure, as a result, they are not able to take advantage of cloud computing. If you wish you harness the power of cloud computing migrating to the cloud is imperative.
Augmented Reality: Augmented, virtual or mixed reality is being actively used by fortune 50 companies. Though Pharma/healthcare sector is not particularly good at breaking the ice, yet there have been many cases where they are using such technologies to get better insights. AR/VR is highly engaging, informative and unique (well for now it is) which makes it ideal for medical education, healthcare provisions, and pharma marketing. The day is not far when such technology will become an industry standard.
Interoperability: Blockchain has been around for some time now and the hype surrounding it as the next big thing is insane; however, it is not until recently, that the pharmaceutical industry has begun to leverage the power of blockchain. It offers immutable records while maintaining data privacy, which can help achieve interoperability in its true sense by creating an end-to-end trust network in the supply chain.
Simulation: Pharma industry is undergoing massive change. This together with the ever-increasing cost of operations has made them turn to discrete event simulation. This helps broaden R&D strategies, save time and money on compliance, improves process controls and optimize production. Everything is done in a save the offline environment and you can prepare quality documentation for FDA without impacting the operation of the plant.
One thing is for sure major disruptions are on the way. The ideal start would be to assess the current technology stack and the commercial viability of the change. If your organization is digital, then the change should cause minimum downtime. In addition, it is a good idea to prepare the people for the change, support and educate them so they can make a smooth transition from the older systems. Last but not least, make sure you have a very clear goal of what you want to achieve. Know where to stop, else you may have a great product with little use for self.