Life When You’re 100% Cloud

Here’s a post I did on 5 March, 2015 as a guest author for the Veeva Blog.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of KYTHERA Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. 

During a career span of nearly 20 years in the life sciences IT industry, I have witnessed my share of tools and technologies come and go—from clinical development to commercial operations, our industry has adopted hundreds of solutions over the years. Almost without fail these tools and technologies have been siloed and heavily customized. After years of steadily proliferating on-premise systems—and the array of hardware and software that comes with them—we’re finally seeing technology move in the opposite direction. In today’s IT department, the next big thing isn’t the pursuit of more—it’s consolidation, harmonization, and shifting to the cloud. At Kythera, I run an IT organization that is 100% cloud-based, and the difference in efficiency is having a significant impact on our agility and the bottom line.

Standardizing on using the cloud has eliminated the time, expense, and hassle of maintaining hardware and software in-house. As Kythera makes the journey from a clinical-stage biotech to a mid-sized commercial business operation, we don’t worry about maintaining, updating, and validating dozens of systems. It may be hard to imagine, but we don’t even have a data center facility. The only hardware we maintain are employee laptops and iPads and network equipment. When it comes to securing our data, we focus on internal policies and rigorous audits of our cloud providers, which eliminates the need of an onsite security team. The vendors we’ve chosen can implement security and disaster recovery measures that far exceed what most companies can provide with their own resources

With the thousands of hours IT is reclaiming, we’re adding higher-level value. For instance, we were heavily involved in the optimization of our document management solutions. We worked with our internal business groups to design a more efficient way to get documents reviewed and approved throughout the organization. Kythera is filled with industry veterans accustomed to the struggle of legacy systems, and we’re able to deliver solutions that work. We are more agile now, so can respond quickly to changing business needs and ultimately deliver results in a timely manner.

In line with our “cloud-first” strategy, we standardized on Veeva’s solutions across our commercialization process. Veeva Vault helps us manage our content from study to launch; Veeva CRM enables more effective selling and marketing; and Veeva Network Customer Master delivers key reference data, software, and services.

In most companies, business groups don’t always expect IT to serve as a strategic partner. Our experience with Veeva and other cloud providers has been positive enough that it’s actually changing their perception of IT. We are included in strategic planning off-sites, which acknowledges the crucial role IT is playing within the organization.

When people ask me about being one of the first Veeva Vault customers, I tell them innovation is the lifeblood of biotech and that it permeates everything we do. As a company dedicated to continuous innovation, we wanted to live it and innovate across the board.

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