In the run up to the Drug Information Association (DIA) 2014 Annual Meeting, we usually see a flurry of press releases by clinical IT vendors. Most of these will have to do with product launches that impact clinical development and data management, regulatory, quality and compliance systems. Over the last few months, I’ve been briefed on a zillion new technology roll-outs. In a nutshell, most (but not all) of the marketing activities performed by the vendor and service companies will cover incremental improvements- that is “evolutionary, not revolutionary”….but this is okay. It takes time for pharma IT leads and business stakeholders to adopt new technologies and services. It takes time to react and readjust the vision and strategy. Most organizations need some time to digest the change, look to the future, and then figure out the next best steps.
Okay, so enough with me putting the “un” in “fun”. We will see a few bigger announcements by vendors that will warrant those exciting disruptive technology vision discussions. However, these should not overshadow a few recent announcements that will impact the R&D and clinical IT space over the next few years. I’ve attached URLs to the “first take” coverage which goes into some details of the acquisitions, and what you will need to do if you are using those software, services, and providers:
- “Telerx Announces Intention to Acquire C3i and Expand Its Global Reach”
- “DrugDev Taps Into Clinical Cloud Apps With TrialNetworks Acquisition”
- “Icon Buys Aptiv to Boost Adaptive Clinical Trial and Monitoring Play“
- “Dassault Systemes’ Biovia Is Poised to Capture PLM Life Science Market”
What these announcements all have in common, is the potential for a synergy (mostly for these companies to improve their own margin), but these are not examples of typical M&A. Usually a bigger fish buys a smaller fish that has a similar platform to gain market share. There is an opportunity to leverage the larger suite of products and services to your benefit. Each party mentioned in the above documents have a range of differential but complimentary offerings, software, services, BPO capabilities, and IT services, and there was very little preexisting overlap.
As the vendor landscape changes, keep in mind your strategies – and ask these long term questions: What clinical trial management and data processes should be on a platform vs. run via a service? What analytics approach will give you a competitive advantage? What core eclinical software platforms will drive innovation? (e.g. “run”, “grow”, vs “transform” your business). What should be internal vs external for CTMS EDC and ePRO? What fits our strategic technology roadmap? What are we capable of supporting? How do we manage the change? Are we comfortable with having a service group manage that part of the process?
While in the short term, these acquisitions may not have a noticeable impact to your internal stakeholders, you can use the shifting vendor landscape to your advantage – contract negotiations, global pricing, expanded capabilities. However, translating what you need to do at the strategic level and then enabling the organization to make the right tactical decisions is the real long term challenge…. This goes way beyond just managing the shifting vendor landscape.