FierceBiotech Sits Down With Accenture

Sponsored by: Accenture 

Pipelines used to focus on areas such as small molecule drugs, but portfolios have flipped to build strategies around new, innovative therapies serving unmet needs in today’s market. That’s a significant shift with technology implications, said Kevin Julian, senior managing director of Accenture’s life sciences practice.

Julian recently sat down with FierceBiotech Publisher Rebecca Willumson to discuss market trends and Accenture’s new technology platform, INTIENT. With the launch of the platform last year, Accenture brought to market a new generation of solutions for biopharmas.

For more from Julian, watch the above video.


Video Transcription: 

Rebecca Willumson: Hi. My name's Rebecca Willumson. I'm the publisher of Fierce Biotech and I'm here today with Kevin Julian, senior managing director of life sciences at Accenture. Kevin, thanks so much for joining me today.

Kevin Julian: Thanks for having me.

Rebecca Willumson: Okay. So before we begin, tell me a little bit about yourself and about your work at Accenture.

Kevin Julian: As a senior managing director in Accenture's life sciences practice, I run our capabilities that deliver consulting, technology and BPO services to our clients, specifically in the areas of research and development and patient services.

Rebecca Willumson: Very good. So can you talk to me about some trends that you're seeing in the biopharma industry right now?

Kevin Julian: Sure. It's an exciting time to be in this industry. We've seen a significant shift of our client's portfolio focus away from small molecule, large population strategies through to large molecule and now to a category we call new science. And new science for us means new innovative therapies that are meeting unmet needs in the market today and sometimes in combination with technology. In some cases, we're starting to see technology alone. So no chemical, no biologic, just a tech solution delivering a therapy to a patient.

Kevin Julian: The result of this shift to new science is pretty significant. We've seen the pipelines pretty much flip. So more than half of the pipelines that we see going forward are going to be focused on these new therapeutic areas and the technology impacts of that are pretty significant. In order to deliver these therapies, clients are looking for more data, deeper insights, better access to patients than they've ever had before. We think that's putting a significant pressure on their technology capabilities and on the industry in general.

Rebecca Willumson: So how is the industry responding to these trends? Do you feel like they're keeping up?

Kevin Julian: When I look at response, I like to think of it as acceptance and then adoption. I think on the acceptance point, we see many companies really embracing this as the new reality and for good reason, we see new science approvals at a rate almost half better than the old style therapies. And so, clearly there's a lot of investment being redirected in this way.

Kevin Julian: In terms of the enabling capabilities to support this, we've seen a wide spectrum. Some companies have adopted digital actually as a core company strategy and have been very public in saying so, and others are further along in the growth curve. They all though do seem to agree that this is critical. We did a survey and 88% of biopharma executives responded saying having access to information and the ability to use tools like AI to drive insights from across their enterprise was very important to their business strategy. But in that same survey, fewer than half had a clear path forward on how to deliver against that imperative.

Rebecca Willumson: You recently launched a new technology platform in INTIENT. Can you tell me how you feel this will address some of the needs of the industry?

Kevin Julian: First of all, the INTIENT brand is relatively new. Our experience in this space actually goes back over seven years. And so during that time, we've been building and delivering solutions to 25 biopharmas in a variety of different functional areas, from research through to patient services, helping them aggregate data, helping them analyze that data, helping them get access to new sources of data. And so building on that experience, when we launched INTIENT last year, we embarked on a new journey, a new generation of those solutions.

Kevin Julian: One is to connect them all on a single common platform so that our clients can access information seamlessly across their enterprise. The second is to use that platform to help them connect to the ecosystem of technology providers, data providers, service providers in a very open way. And the third is to use our relationship with Google to inject new and innovative technologies into that platform in the areas of machine learning, of data visualization and other new capabilities that really help our clients get more value out of the information across their enterprise.

Rebecca Willumson: Can you tell me a little bit more about your partnership with Google?

Kevin Julian: Sure. We're really excited about the INTIENT partnership with Google. Of course, Accenture and Google have been partners for years, developing solutions across a variety of different industries and they are a very well recognized, well-respected technology brand. But in the last year they've really committed themselves to the life sciences industry as an area of growth for them and our visions for the role that INTIENT can play in the market are very well aligned.

Kevin Julian: We've started to build some exciting things with them in the area of drug research. We're using Google AI and ML capabilities to support the identification and validation of research targets using patient data, clinical data, and research data in a really unique way that's never been done before. We're also using Google's image storage and data visualization capabilities to develop algorithms that process images of scientific compounds and lab data in a much faster and higher throughput way.

Rebecca Willumson: Well, that's all the time we have today, but thanks so much for joining me.

Kevin Julian: Thank you for having me.