Life sciences IT execs plan business intelligence spending blitz

With payers in key markets pushing for lower drug prices and generics slaying many of Big Pharma's cash cows, companies need to cut the cost of development. Now, a survey has confirmed one way firms are trying to achieve efficiency goals: increased spending on business intelligence (BI) and analytics tools.

The finding comes from market analyst Ovum's survey of life sciences IT executives. When asked about their investment plans for the next 18 months, more than half of respondents said they will install an all-new enterprise performance management system. Many are also planning to completely replace their database query tools and predictive analytics capabilities. The widespread installation of new systems prompted Ovum analysts to state that the industry is at the start of a BI and analytics investment cycle.

While the tools have the potential to usher in a more data-driven approach, they are only as smart as the user. For biopharma companies with little experience of the tools, this could limit their impact. "Although there is an increase in budgets for analytics, for many life science companies these are new technologies, and they will thus require guidance on how to implement and use them in order to gain maximum [return on investment]," senior Ovum analyst Andrew Brosnan said.

Significant investments are planned. Execs reported planning to increase IT spending across the board, with tools to manage clinical trials, scientific data and the supply chain due for particularly big funding boosts. Around half of respondents plan to increase spending in these areas by more than 6%. The cash injection into the supply chain will make companies compliant with upcoming track-and-trace regulations. This week the U.S. Senate passed legislation that will make such technology mandatory with 10 years. 

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