Instant Information Access - The Future is now the Present

Though we’ve fallen short of some fictional fantasies, we’ve made incredible strides in the availability of web-based information “in the cloud” over recent years. Just think of Wikipedia where there are now more than 10 million articles posted in 250 languages that are available freely and immediately for anyone with Internet connectivity.


20 May 2010

Like so many other people from my generation, I grew up watching movies and sci-fi programs that dramatized futuristic technologies. I was always intrigued by the magical user interfaces that were available on a wristwatch or part of a room’s wall that securely brought up any information one requires to facilitate decision making. Being that Star Wars was my favorite galaxy far, far away, I often thought about how cool it would be to have my own C-3PO, to provide me with information whenever I needed it, on demand.

Though we’ve fallen short of some fictional fantasies, we’ve made incredible strides in the availability of web-based information “in the cloud” over recent years. Just think of Wikipedia where there are now more than 10 million articles posted in 250 languages that are available freely and immediately for anyone with Internet connectivity. What was once an oddity, a luxury — I’m talking fast connection to the Internet and I mean way back in 1995 — is now considered a necessity for work and play. The immediate availability of information via the Internet has changed the way we do business and has provided powerful tools to obtain knowledge relatively immediately, eliminating the hunt previously required to find information in a proverbial haystack.

I’ve been musing about the availability and importance of vast amounts of information in the cloud because Intralinks was recently named in Gartner’s “Cool Vendors in Life Sciences, 2010” report as having an innovative, impactful and intriguing solution for life sciences companies. Gartner Analysts Steven Lefebure and Dale Hagemeyer bestowed this honor on us, along with two other cool vendors. What really struck me is that all three solutions highlighted in the report are web-based applications, i.e., they are Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based solutions and provide real-time, 24/7/365 access to information.

Now, there are many practical reasons why companies are specifically looking for SaaS-based solutions — no up-front capital investment, no burden to IT, no maintenance and support and you can be up and running in days. In my opinion, though, I believe these reasons are merely gravy. The real benefit — the real driver to adopt SaaS-based solutions — for companies is to have that immediate access to information anywhere and anytime, giving them instantaneous power to make decisions and take action, just like the movies I watched when I was growing up.

Until recently, the life sciences industry was a little gun-shy in adopting web-based technology and moving their critical information and business processes to the cloud. There has, however, been a fundamental shift in this position over the last few years. As pharmaceutical companies face pressures to accelerate time-to-market, reduce risk and decrease operational costs, they are increasingly investigating and specifically pursuing web-based solutions. General acceptance of SaaS in the industry has increased as security and control in these virtual environments has proven to be air-tight, and the instant access to real-time information and the ability to pull, view and summarize information in a customized fashion has made adoption of such technology a strategic decision.

For example, a safety team at a pharmaceutical company benefits from using the Intralinks solution because they can instantaneously send a letter about a serious adverse event that occurred in relation to an investigational new drug to all doctors across the world involved in clinical trials for that compound. Doctors have immediate access to this important information. The safety team then receives a report that provides a real-time record of letter distribution, delivery and access.

Another example of Intralinks’ SaaS-based solution paying dividends is how a Study Start-up team can simultaneously manage, track and record the progress of all essential regulatory documents with their sites around the world — or simply get a snapshot of the site progress in order to hone follow-up activity. The team is then equipped with knowledge that empowers them to take action that can speed the activation process so they can get to “first patient/first visit” faster.

The above examples are merely two illustrations of how Intralinks is providing pharmaceutical companies with the power to change the way they do business today, by delivering access to information and process intelligence. As the industry moves more of their processes to the cloud, the power of information has game-changing potential. By continuing to work closely with the industry to understand their challenges and needs as we innovate for tomorrow, there may very well come a day when we all have the knowledge of C-3PO at our fingertips...