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Data management in life sciences: overcome these 4 core challenges


Life science companies, including pharma, biotech, and medical device companies, churn out tens of terabytes of data every single day. That’s about the data equivalent of 5 billion pages of text. Every twenty-four hours! What’s more, data output per company is growing exponentially. That’s because you have to factor in the multiple copies of data sets that are created and kept as backups, and the fact that scientific data records are rarely deleted. Now scale this up to account for all the life science companies out there, and the numbers really get mind-boggling.

How are these vast troves of data stored? Two ways. Either through company-owned IT infrastructure, or, more commonly nowadays, in the cloud. The latter offsets data storage to servers housed elsewhere. These servers are usually in gigantic offsite data centers or server farms.

Data storage is a fundamental consideration for any life science company. How you store data affects costs, security concerns, and resource requirements in a big way. However, the real challenge for life science companies is how to manage all their data.

Below, we lay out the four most pressing data management challenges in life science companies. How can life science companies overcome these data management hurdles, and better optimize the way in which they deal with data?

Key data management challenges


Illustrator with the four core challenges of Data management in Life Sciences by Scilife.


1. Cost (space)

Data management of enormous and ever-growing datasets is really expensive. Not just for the physical storage space it requires plus the steep running and power costs of housing all those terabytes, but because it’s necessary to make data easily accessible to external collaborators, auditors and researchers. That requires powerful software.

The first challenge when it comes to data management is finding the right match in terms of software pricing and/or service provider cost. Typically, Software As A Service (SaaS) data management solutions are more workable in terms of cost. These solutions don’t require a large upfront investment to get the necessary hardware set up, and the SaaS service providers usually charge subscription fees per month. 


2.  Ease of Access

How accessible and user-friendly is your company’s data to search and browse through? Storing data in the cloud used to make it tricky to access that data. However, modern-day data management solutions (software) are engineered with really powerful search capabilities, so it's no longer an issue as long as life science companies choose software that’s powerful enough.


 3. Security

Security is, considering the sensitivity of the life sciences sector, understandably of great concern when it comes to both data management and storage. When it comes to which data storage system is ‘better’, on-site or cloud-hosted, there’s a lot to consider. 

To really get into that, there’s no better way than to listen to the experts themselves discussing this very issue on our recent Scilife webinars with AWS (Amazon Web Services, the cloud service provider that hosts Scilife’s data) here and with Yves Dène (Knowledge Manager at QbD who’s a quality systems and computer systems validation expert) here.

In short, cloud-hosted data management is as, if not more, secure than using on-site data servers. When you go for cloud-based data management, always make sure your chosen data management service provider/software uses stringent security measures and runs their software data on reputable and encrypted server hosts. 


4. Compliance

Another big challenge in data management is compliance. Life science companies face a lot of industry regulations. Data management must be in line with these regulations in order to remain compliant and pass audits. When managing data, make sure your company and operations fulfill all the necessary compliance requirements. If your company is using software to manage data, it's good practice to choose a provider that has experience and expertise in the pharma or life sciences industry. This way, you can rest assured that your service provider will be well versed and up to date on the latest data protection and compliance regulations - which saves you the headache of compliance issues further down the line.


Improving company-wide data management

Data management in the life sciences is not optional. To be able to run in any capacity at all, every life science company must have some sort of data handling system in place. However, these systems can vary wildly in efficiency. It’s so important to choose the most powerful data management system available to you, as the benefits of optimizing data management are huge

Optimizing data management creates:

  • Quicker time-to-market for products or services
  • Streamlined processes, reducing the possibility of errors and saving time
  • A big saving in resources and costs
  • A rise in employee and general productivity
  • Improved visibility and transparency of processes and data across systems, departments, and suppliers. That empowers the whole supply chain.
  • Improved traceability of responsibility and accountability
  • Better access to research and trials
  • A more secure way of sharing information with customers and stakeholders or suppliers
  • A simplified approval process
  • Enhanced data quality through data governance processes
  • A fully or more digital way of operating, also enabling powerful AI capabilities
  • Clearer performance analysis, data analysis, and actionable insights
  • A more agile business that can adapt faster to market changes
  • Collaboration opportunities between biotech, pharma and medical device companies as well as external collaborators to develop new treatments and advance science

Clearly, there are endless advantages to improving data management. For life science companies, one of the quickest and best ways to optimize company-wide data management is to use data management software.


Scilife: data management and much more

Scilife is a cutting-edge life sciences platform, offering everything you need! It’s a powerful software tool for any life science company to manage their data efficiently and securely

Scilife software is entirely cloud-based and runs on secure AWS servers, so your data is globally accessible yet protected and backed up at all times. We’re specialists in the pharma, biotech and medical device realm, so our Scilife platform is regularly updated by our industry experts to meet the newest and strictest regulations. Scilife streamlines your workflows and optimizes each and every process through interconnected modules and easy-to-use interfaces. Every action your team takes on the platform is logged, ensuring a clear audit trail at all times.

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