NEW YORK March 6 - IBM said Tuesday it is establishing a consulting practice within its Global Services organization to help biotech and pharmaceutical companies use information technology to speed development of medical treatments.
The new Global Life Sciences Consulting and Solutions unit will provide consultants to its existing and future life sciences partners. The consultants will advise life science companies on systems integration and strategic outsourcing in the areas of data management, knowledge management, and e-business services, IBM said.
IBM said it launched the consulting group in answer to the industry’s growing need for IT services—a Frost & Sullivan study conducted for IBM predicted that life sciences companies would spend nearly $6.5 billion on IT services by 2004.
IBM’s Global Services and Life Sciences units will direct the new group jointly, said Anne-Marie Derouault, director of business development and marketing at IBM Life Sciences. Funding for the new group will come from the Global Services unit, and is not considered part of the $100 million life sciences investment IBM announced in August, Derouault said.
While IBM Life Sciences has provided consulting services to its current hardware and software customers on a case-by-case basis, the new consulting group represents a structured practice that Derouault said would complement its other offerings.
Key areas that the consulting group will address at biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies include infrastructure and services for knowledge management; data management and integration solutions that leverage IBM’s DiscoveryLink technology; IT solutions to speed clinical trials; and hosting services.
“Depending on the segment of the life sciences we’re looking at, the service offering will vary,” Derouault said. While pharma may require more assistance with data integration and knowledge management, she said smaller biotech companies would more likely be interested in hosting services that can lower infrastructure costs.
IBM has not yet determined how many consultants will be available as part of the unit. The group's offerings will be rolled out in phases across the pharmaceutical R&D and biotechnology sectors.