At its most basic level, cloud computing is the provision of an IT infrastructure for a group of users in different locations that allows them to share resources, software and information via the “cloud” that supports them. Most literature on cloud computing focuses on how it can help organizations save money and mobilize rapidly. Instead of building its own IT infrastructure, a company hands the task to a third party. The “tenant” company has access to its data and software over the Internet and pays only for what it uses.
While all this is true, a key point is missing: The real value of cloud computing to a research-intensive industry like life sciences is that cloud computing can facilitate innovation. It provides a platform for collaborating with other organizations and enables companies to harmonize transactional processes, delegate those processes to a third party and concentrate on differentiating activities themselves.
Cloud computing is not just a more efficient way of purchasing computing power but, rather, a way of facilitating new, more efficient business models. It enables users to engage with each other, operate and innovate in smarter ways.
A number of life sciences organizations are now beginning to explore the potential of cloud computing. These early adopters are pioneering various forms of process harmonization and collaboration – and though some hurdles still exist, we believe cloud solutions will focus on four main areas: research, development, supply chain and commercial.
The true benefits of cloud computing will be increasingly obvious, as it produces a paradigm shift in the way companies interact, delivering greater operational effectiveness and stimulating more open innovation. Those companies with the wisdom to see the true significance of cloud and seize the initiative will be in the strongest position to capitalize on the advantages it facilitates.