What IT services do biopharma execs really want?

In reading a recent report and survey from Booz & Co. on biopharma outsourcing trends, I came across a section at the tail end of the 16-page document that shed some light on the survey respondents' IT needs. Interestingly, the survey shows which types of tools are the most important to them and what features of the tech were most desirable.

In the report, Booz writes that the IT questions were included because tech companies are "increasingly approaching the industry to take on some of the burden of research and development." Yes, it's true that software companies are angling to provide tools to manage and analyze clinical trials data as well as to support research labs. What they might not know, however, is what their target audience finds most important.

Whenever I've gone to tech industry shows, the vendors always want to talk about the unique functionality of their tools and systems. Call it the Steve Jobs effect. Everyone wants to one-up their competitors or, as least in the case of the late Jobs, themselves, with new product designs that enhance the user experience and features that offer new capabilities. Well, biopharma executives (or at least the 32 individuals from the industry group BayBio that Booz surveyed) are rather conservative and pragmatic when it comes to tech.

With many clinical trials and lab software vendors offering hosted and cloud-based tools to biopharma customers, Booz asked the respondents to rank the features that they find most important with online services on a 1 to 5 scale with "5" being most important. Security (4.88) and data backup/recovery (4.44) were most important, and end-user support (3.54) and frequent software updates (2.92) ranked 9th and 10th among the areas listed.

No huge surprises there. Security concerns are often part of the discussion about whether biopharma companies should trust cloud platform providers such as Amazon Web Services with their precious data. And, seriously, software updates--those are like taking vitamins, not really exciting but perhaps necessary?   

Booz also asked executives to weigh in on the types of IT services of most interest to them. Here's how they ranked them: 1. Collaboration tools (4.19); 2. Data storage and access (4); 3. Custom reporting (3.88); 4. Analytic tools (3.69); and 5. Data sharing (3.65).

So here's one of the bottom lines of the IT section of the survey: Biopharma executives want tech to collaborate with others, but security for whatever online tools are used must be tight. - Ryan McBride (Email | Twitter)

- read Booz's entire report here