The pharmaceutical industry is likely to rekindle interest in artificial intelligence (AI) and big data in the coming years after a noticeable drop in 2020. And while cloud computing has seen an increase in spending due to the measures lockdown, this is likely to run out of steam. to move forward with additional investments that don’t need to be as high as the first round.
This is the hypothesis of an ongoing survey conducted by GlobalData called the Digital transformation survey. Now in its fourth year, the five- to seven-minute survey uses the same set of questions each year to monitor sentiment in the pharmaceutical industry about how digital innovation is established and spread.
The survey allows digital experts to understand the needs of the pharmaceutical industry and identify barriers, says Urte Jakimaviciute, senior director of market research at GlobalData Healthcare. As such, this is an opportunity for the pharmaceutical industry to make its voice heard, she adds. The survey ends on October 18, with information collected from at least 150 respondents due by the end of November.
AI and big data set to gain momentum
While the Covid-19 pandemic has boosted digital investments in the pharmaceutical industry, it was moving in that direction anyway, as such improvements ease industry pressure in all directions: financial, productivity, regulatory, among others. “The digital transformation was already underway – the pandemic only accelerated the process,” said Jakimaviciute, although she added that the scale of last year’s digital transformation was impressive given that the he pharmaceutical industry is generally risk averse.
In response to the pandemic, the pharmaceutical industry has had to sort out which of its digital needs to prioritize. According to the results of the 2020 survey, there was a 10% drop in respondents who said their companies were or will invest in AI and big data compared to 2019. It was an intriguing find. since interest in both was high in previous years, Jakimaviciute said. AI and big data go hand in hand because big data analytics is powered by AI.
However, according to last year’s survey, interest in AI and big data is expected to increase again in the coming years, Jakimaviciute said. AI and big data have a very important role in pharma, as it does in the drug discovery process. The drop in 2020 was due to the fact that digital investments had to be reallocated to other more urgent needs, she notes.
Specifically, there was a 20% jump among respondents to the 2020 survey who said their companies were investing in or were interested in cloud computing and social media from the previous year, reflecting a shift to work. remotely due to the pandemic.
But once businesses invest in cloud computing, they don’t need to have the same level of spending to move forward, says Jakimaviciute. This helps direct digital capacity expansion projects elsewhere. However, interest in social media is likely to stick around longer. The current and likely future stages of the pandemic may still require remote communications with patients and between people working in the industry, she adds.
The growth of blockchain stifled by the pandemic
A surprising result of last year’s survey is that investment in blockchain has not been as high as expected, although it is presented as having the potential to improve every part of the value chain. pharmaceutical. Blockchain is an information recording system that makes it very difficult to manipulate digital systems.
This shows that blockchain in the pharmaceutical industry is still in its infancy; it has a long way to go before it reaches full adaptation and implementation. More urgent digital needs during the pandemic have also likely stifled its momentum, says Jakimaviciute. Oddly enough, cybersecurity was one of the big winners in last year’s survey: interest in tackling cyberthreats increased by more than 10% compared to the results of the 2019 survey.
Another notable finding of 2020 is that many companies have been caught off guard by the digital demands of the pandemic. “Many companies weren’t prepared: they didn’t have enough tech-savvy people to keep up with digital transformation efforts,” notes Jakimaviciute.
Longer term, interest in virtual reality and augmented reality is likely to be significant due to the pharmaceutical industry’s gradual transition to online workflows, Jakimaviciute said. Interest in 5G would be even greater, especially with increased interest in decentralized clinical trials, given that all of these technological advancements rely on high-speed internet.
GlobalData is the parent company of Pharmaceutical Technology and Clinical Trials Arena.