IBM is supplementing its life science offerings by establishing a consulting practice within its Global Services organization with the aim of helping biotech and pharmaceutical companies use information technology to speed development of medical treatments.
The new Global Life Sciences Consulting and Solutions unit will provide its existing and future life sciences partners with consultants who will advise them on systems integration and outsourcing in the areas of data management, knowledge management, and e-business services, IBM said.
“Having the services practice along with our life sciences software and hardware offerings has a huge impact,” said Anne-Marie Derouault, director of business development and marketing at IBM Life Sciences. “With the additional services we can provide end-to-end solutions that have hardware and software and services. The customer doesn’t have to worry about getting software from one place and something else from another place and then putting it all together.”
Companies such as 3rd Millennium of Cambridge, Mass., and Blackstone Technology Group of Worcester, Mass., currently provide similar consulting services for genomics companies.
IBM’s Global Services and Life Sciences units will direct the new group jointly, Derouault said. Consultants will be drawn from both units as well as external sources. 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 to launch its Life Sciences unit.
IBM said it is forming 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.
While IBM Life Sciences has consulted its hardware and software customers on a case-by-case basis since it was established last year, Derouault said the new group represents a structured approach to meeting the industry’s accelerating demand for such services.
“We found in talking to customers and prospects that the requirements for integration — whether it’s data integration or application integration — and the requirements for knowledge management in the life sciences industry are very, very big. So that’s what the consulting services practice is going to allow us to do.”
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. Derouault said it would be staffed as demand grows, eventually reaching a “significant” number. The group’s offerings will be rolled out in phases across the pharmaceutical R&D and biotechnology sectors.