In the months since joining SwiftStack as an advisor, Bill Louv has helped give us insights into the role that object storage is playing in Life Sciences and Research. While picking his brain, he shared thoughtful answers to many of my questions. Shared here are a few of those answers:
Q: Among CIOs in Pharma, are there any common top priorities in 2016?
A: CIOs in Pharma are focused on the three big areas of value creation: Discovery Research, Marketing, and Supply Chain. Looking at Discovery, this function was ‘industrialized’ in the 80s and 90s. A belief in process and scale led to high throughput screening, genomics and pathway biology platforms, and unfortunately to poor productivity. Dividing Discovery into many biotech-like cells increased focus, innovation, and accountability resulting in increased productivity in the last decade. An unintended consequence is the Balkanization of data, trapped within the organization cells even though much of the data has relevance in other cells. CIOs are taking action to capture, curate, and store the data for collaboration across cells.
Q: Given the distributed nature of research within Pharma organizations, are CIOs talking about initiatives to increase the sharing of data and infrastructure among teams?
A: Collaboration has been on the agenda of every CIO for as long as I can remember. In a knowledge industry like Pharma, collaboration is always a fundamental enabler of value creation. What makes this area particularly interesting now is breakthroughs in hardware and software underlying the emerging cloud-oriented technology stack. Ironically, technology breakthroughs make it more important for CIOs to have deep understanding of the businesses they support. There are culture, policy, and process issues to wrestle with when it comes to lateral integration of any enterprise (probably more accurately, virtual or extended enterprise).
Q: Some consider Pharma IT organizations to be conservative. How do CIOs in Pharma view working with startups to get access to new technologies?
A: I think we are at a crossroads. The more senior CIOs will have lived through an era when best-of-breed was a highly flawed strategy. But the modern cloud-based stack is here! – it’s stable, it’s creating value, and it’s by construction an environment that thrives on integration of applications. In the next decade all CIOs will have portfolios with legacy traditional enterprise applications, established cloud apps (e.g., Salesforce, Workday), and leading edge cloud apps in areas like analytics and optimization. Pharma portfolios might be skewed toward the legacy, but it’s a quantitative rather than qualitative difference from other industries.
Q: Why are you excited about being an advisor to SwiftStack?
A: All of my training and experience is in the area of scientific inference. I have been working on analytics problems my whole career, so big data opportunities are very exciting to me. Object storage is an essential component of big data solutions. Open source drives innovation and gives us some protection from proprietary influences. So SwiftStack delivers, in a leading-edge way, a fundamental component of modern data exploitation.
Learn more about how customers in life sciences are using SwiftStack for their research endeavors: https://www.swiftstack.com/customers