Veeva Vault unlocks cloud computing potential at London launch event.
The concept of transferring data and IT infrastructure to the cloud has been around for a while, with large companies such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon advertising cloud services as a faster, simpler way for companies to scale up processing power when needed. Eli Lilly is just one of the pharma firms who have in recent years turned to on-demand computing for help with data-intensive processes such as drug discovery and gene sequencing.
Unfortunately, for other parts of a pharma company’s day-to-day existence, the problem is not the volume of data but the necessity of keeping track of the flow of documents across global networks and multiple business partners. As regulatory scrutiny has increased in recent years, it is now more important than ever for companies to know where the various versions of a document are, and be able to recall them if needed.
This is where Veeva’s ‘Software-as-a-Service’ (SaaS) model comes in: its 'Vault Enterprise' suite offers pharma companies an integrated set of applications for managing R&D, clinical trial data, quality control, medical communications and promotional materials. This comprehensive set of tools, available on a single platform, promises to be a godsend for an industry that is used to using an unwieldy network of different content repositories and software providers for their content management.
Today I am surrounded in the luxurious trappings of the Stoke Park Hotel, attending the launch event for Veeva Vault, a cloud-based service from Veeva Systems which has the potential to revolutionise how pharma companies do business. Veeva Vault comprises the 'Vault Platform', an infrastructure, and the aforementioned ‘Vault Enterprise’, a suite of content management applications designed to cover not just one of the various processes needed to bring a drug to market, but all of them.
Veeva Vault claims to be the first cloud-based system developed especially for the life sciences industry, and is particularly focussed on ensuring regulatory compliance for its customers. To this end, it incorporates nifty features including audit trails, electronic signatures, and time-based reporting that lets customers know when a document is up for review or about to expire. A search function which allows the user to choose exactly the criteria they are looking for should make hunting for the right product recipe, clinical trial document, or promotional material less of a time-consuming nightmare. Veeva’s General Manager in Europe, Dan Goldsmith, stated at the launch that the Content Management Systems used by businesses should be as easy to navigate as search engines and online shopping websites people use in their leisure time.
It is easy to see the benefits for a company of having all their information on the same platform, accessible from anywhere in the world with an internet connection; however as we’ve discussed previously, many in the industry continue to have misgivings about the potential security risks of putting confidential data on the cloud. How does Veeva solve this problem? By giving the administrators the power to set rules on who can access and make changes to a document at every stage of its life cycle. This can be done on a regional basis, allowing for both global and country-specific levels of access, a massive benefit for companies used to working with multiple partners in multiple locations.
On the physical side of things, Veeva’s servers are situated in secure facilities with round-the-clock monitoring and biometric entry authentication for its employees. As Veeva’s Paul Shawah and Ted Wallach discuss here, cloud technology has now matured to the level where it is actually safer for a company to store data in the cloud than on its own servers.
Veeva is a company that has built up too much momentum to slow down any time soon, particularly when there are still improvements to be made; a lot of the focus today was on the planned integration of Vault services with other software companies such as Salesforce.com or Medidata, and with Veeva’s other SaaS offerings, Veeva CRM and iRep. But nobody, and no company, is perfect, and as Vice President for Vault Services Rik van Mol mentioned in his talk today, sometimes the search for ‘perfection’ translates into a barrier to implementation.
It is still too early to tell just how big an impact Vault will have on the day-to-day running of the pharmasphere but after today, the future of cloud computing looks bright indeed.
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