From strategy to action: How to accelerate your lab’s digital transformation
Leading life science companies and solution providers gathered at this year’s Lab of the Future Live event to discuss the latest cutting-edge research and technology driving the digital transformation of the lab. Kicking off the event were keynote speakers: Richard Milne, VP and General Manager for Digital Science, Thermo Fisher Scientific; Hal Stern, VP & CIO, R&D, Janssen; and Vijay Raju, Global Head of Analytical R&D, Novartis. The keynote address examined how the challenges of modern life science research are redefining the lab. Each presenter offered a unique perspective on the digital transformation of the lab, sharing both success stories and challenges that are driving the need for change.
External factors like the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated the implementation of digitization strategies in some areas. This acceleration has improved resiliency and remote access. One of the clearest success factors in digital transformation initiatives is user engagement: placing the scientist at the center of the change to improve engagement and understand their needs.
Success stories notwithstanding, the overwhelming feeling is that much of the digital promise has yet to be realized. Moving forward, the presenters called for a sharper focus on converting the potential into operational reality and moving from strategy to action.
Barriers to a Connected Lab
An audience poll conducted during the keynote presentation confirmed the biggest perceived barriers to digital transformation.
The survey found that “Legacy systems and processes” represent the biggest hurdle. Milne agreed, referencing the massive historical investment in equipment, software, and processes that must be managed in a brownfield project. “We need to find the balance between pragmatic and progressive,” Milne said. “We need to identify the pragmatic path to innovation while allowing realization of benefits along the way.”
Survey results also showed that “People and culture” can present another barrier to digital transformation. The panelists agreed that people are resistant to change when the change feels forced. They suggested involving scientists early in digitization projects. By making the scientists the center of the change, you can create a pull from the scientists rather than a push from management. This approach lowers the resistance to change and improves adoption. “You have to make sure you’re answering the local context so you can bring users along with you,” Milne said. “Top-down edicts need bottom-up pressure to make them work. The people who are subject to the change need to understand the value of that change.”
Building a Connected Scientific Ecosystem
How do we overcome these barriers to build a connected lab? Milne suggests focusing on technology that enables an organization in four key areas:
- People – a people-centric design approach puts the scientist first. The goal is building a streamlined user experience providing intelligent workload management, easy access to role-driven, actionable information and collaborative insights.
- Instruments – investing in connectivity and digitalization of the instrument fleet yields global access and remote monitoring of both scientific data and telemetry data. The result is comprehensive instrument and equipment management capabilities, remote AR service and calibration, improved uptime and availability.
- Processes – process automation is critical to driving science forward. Lab operations tools like workflow engines enable labs to build and distribute workflows throughout the organization, ensuring tasks are consistently performed the way you expect.
- Data – global access to data and analysis tools helps elevate organizational knowledge, providing access to new insights through AI, machine learning and analytics.
No matter where you are in your digital transformation journey, partnering with Thermo Fisher can help you take the next step. Join us at PLA2021, 8th European Edition to learn more about the new capabilities we’re building to support the connected lab, helping you get more from your lab data. Want to learn more about digital transformation? Read our digital transformation white paper.