Why a Cloud Data Management Journey Necessary for Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) in Pharma?

Jan 10, 2022 | Commercial Data Management
Sayantani Sen
SMB Pharma

Why a Cloud Data Management Journey Necessary for Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) in Pharma?

Why a Cloud Data Management Journey Necessary for Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) in Pharma? 1024 683 deepak

Background to Cloud Adoption in Life Sciences

The cloud remains at the forefront of digital transformation efforts across industries. But compared to other consumer-focused industries, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have been slower to adopt emerging cloud technologies. According to Accenture, compared to eleven industries surveyed, biopharma ranked the lowest in achieving innovation, data access, and analytics goals from the cloud. Despite these historical trends, the pharma industry has been steadily embracing cloud computing platforms in the recent past. According to Healthcare Information and Management Systems and Society report, over 83 percent of pharmaceutical companies, including small and medium businesses (SMBs) use cloud technologies. The global cloud computing in pharmaceutical market revenue was pegged at $3173 million in 2019, with an expected target of $7021 million in 2025 with a CAGR of 14.15% during 2020-2025.

SMBs in Pharma: Migration Journeys to Cloud from On-Premises Data Management Platforms

SMBs, like their bigger counterparts in pharma, generate data at every stage of their drug development journeys. Most require an enterprise-grade cloud data solution to generate actionable business insights across drug discovery, clinical trials, marketing, and drug launches. Existing data architectures ingest data from multiple sources, design algorithms to derive insights, but can be expensive to maintain. Most SMBs are on the lookout for a cost-efficient data management solution that will help them transform their existing data journeys and need an overall digital strategy that runs through the entire enterprise.

In the latest Accenture Cloud Survey, most small and medium pharma companies highlighted their key concerns of a lack of running an integrated business and product strategies in every step of their treatment journey. Most were concerned about sustainable operations from the top-down in the short run rather than business enablement, technological upgrades, and resilience for the long haul.

These companies perennially face constraints with legacy solutions, data, and organizational silos. Many also need a dedicated infrastructure and database to support to avoid a fragmented approach to information processing at each stage of the drug commercialization journey.

Traditional data management tools also are less scalable and adaptable. Many pharma leaders also complain of security hazards with some solutions. Here are some of the problems that on-premises data management journeys experience.

Higher Implementation Time
In a biopharma organization, onboarding data assets, data cleansing, data integration, and provisioning form part of a very complex process that runs across multiple departments or projects. This is not just time-consuming for an organization but also increases the overall operating cost.

Outdated Technologies
The traditional data management technologies were set up years ago and the hardware in these systems can create scalability issues. These also do not use parallel processing and in-memory storage thus hampering data processing capabilities. Traditional data management tools also cannot scale up on-premises data storage capabilities without incurring very high costs.

Inflexible and High Failure Rates
Legacy enterprise data management architecture is not agile and adaptable. It cannot change on demand and can become a bottleneck when meeting business requirements. For instance, a basic change to a data model can take weeks and months to complete, costing the company thousands of dollars. These data management solutions also often fail to meet user requirements and needs and have high failure rates.

High Infrastructure Procurement and Maintenance Cost
In a legacy environment, organizations procure dedicated machines, licenses, tools for each department or even individual projects and invest in support teams who maintain the infrastructure. Moreover, since the procured infrastructure is not shared among departments, it is not used to its full capacity and can increase the overall cost of maintenance.

Recurring Cost on Data Quality
Data quality is crucial for pharma organizations to derive actionable insights for decision-making. But most of the data quality processes are carried out at various departments and there is limited collaboration at the enterprise level. Most departmental data that is generated exists in silos and it is not cost-efficient to process this for organizational foresight.

Duplicate Data Assets
Individual departments often procure data assets considering only their requirements and since its metadata is not maintained organization-wide, companies end up procuring the same type of data assets from different vendors. This increases overall costs and creates disparate sources for the same information.

Lack of Standardization
When the data assets are acquired and processed at the department level, project managers, data stewards, and the development teams tend to use their nomenclature which results in a different set of standards across the same organization. This usually becomes a major roadblock during data integration or migration at the broader enterprise level.

Ineffective Collaboration
Teams working on different tools and technologies in the same organization can find it difficult to collaborate as their ideas and solutions can be restricted to their skills. An enterprise-wide technology platform enables teams to work together and improve efficiency.

Increasingly in the light of these drawbacks, SMBs in pharmaceutical organizations are more likely to implement cloud data management and storage facilities because of reduced maintenance costs with a flexible and scalable data management process in comparison to on-premises deployments. This assures them of a seamless data management journey that on-premises arrangements fail to offer. Virtualized data storage and management platforms also enable interoperability data that is hard to find traditional solutions. Cloud platforms are also useful when migrating data and SMBs don’t need to maintain separate datasets thereby cutting down effort and spending drastically.

Post-pandemic Cloud Dependency

Keeping in mind the cloud advantage, in the past two years, post-pandemic, SMEs and MedTech at large have rethought their data management strategies. According to Accenture’s 2021 Technology Vision Survey, most biotech organizations’ strategies are now interested in extending effective, affordable, and personalized treatments and drugs to patients. There is a growing need to opt for holistic care models and experiences that prioritize technology transformation. Migrating to the cloud seems to be the most logical technological transformation after Covid 19. The pandemic has necessitated the need to opt for cloud services and industry estimates indicate that the overall cloud services market in pharma will be worth $661 billion by 2024 with a CAGR of 19% between 2019 and 2024.

With high levels of instability in the pharma market seen in the past year, SMBs at large are now shifting to the cloud. This has helped drive a renewed sense of purpose by realigning business and technology strategies. Connected enterprise-grade technology platforms helped drug and device manufacturers streamline their data operations and make the drug delivery process seamless. It also has helped cut down operational costs of drug manufacturing across the board. These recent successes have made organizations analyze their cloud approach making the cloud data management journey imminent in SMBs.


The adoption and deployment of cloud technologies isn’t an aspiration anymore but a necessary mandate of current market conditions and end-user needs. The cloud can help connect big pockets of data generated by medical devices, clinical trials, drug discovery, EHR, sales, marketing, and so on, and collaborate better across the entire drug ecosystem to create meaningful patient and healthcare provider relationships.

Since SMB pharma companies are usually in the initial phases of their product journey, it’s the right time to adopt a cloud data platform so that data can be stored in a structured, clean, and integrated manner to deliver insights based on a “single version of the truth” at the enterprise level. A secure cloud data platform can thereby help them optimize their data assets, resources, and reduce the total cost of ownership in the future.


Muhammad Sharjeel Ashraf. Challenges In Maintaining a Traditional Data Warehouse. Big Data Made Simple. https://bigdata-madesimple.com/challenges-maintaining-traditional-data-warehouse/  March 5, 2021 

Kaveh Safavi. Digital Adoption: Healthcare Reaction or Revolution. Accenture. https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insights/health/digital-adoption-healthcare-reaction-or-revolution  August 6, 2021 

Stuart Henderson. The Cloud Imperative in Life Sciences. Accenture https://www.accenture.com/_acnmedia/PDF-142/Accenture-The-Cloud-Imperative-in-Life-Sciences.pdf August 2020 

Geoff Schmidt. Maximizing Cloud Value in Life Sciences. Accenture. https://www.accenture.com/in-en/insights/life-sciences/maximizing-cloud-value-life-sciences March 31, 2021 

Shalu Chadha. Technology Vision 2021 for Life Sciences. Accenture. https://www.accenture.com/in-en/insights/life-sciences/tech-vision September 21, 2021 

Davide Grande, Jorge Machado, Bryan Petzold, and Marcus Roth. Reducing Data Costs Without Jeopardizing Growth. McKinsey https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-digital/our-insights/reducing-data-costs-without-jeopardizing-growth July 31, 2020 

In Silico Talks. Why cloud computing in healthcare is a growing trend. Insilicotrials.com https://insilicotrials.com/why-cloud-computing-in-healthcare-is-a-growing-trend/  November 16, 2020 

360ResearchReports. Global Cloud Computing in Pharmaceutical Market Insights: Impact of Covid-19 and Future Expectations to 2025. 360ResearchReports. Global Cloud Computing In Pharmaceutical Market – Industry Reports (360researchreports.com) November 11, 2020 

Subscribe to Our Insights

Contact us