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Connect 2014 opened in London today and it was buzzing with customers, industry leaders and experts from around the globe. The focus: optimizing data management and sharing ideas to overcome some of the main challenges we face as an industry. Externalization was the topic du jour which came up time and time again.

Ovum appears to agree. Its latest global life sciences tech spend forecast highlights that“greater externalization of what were once in-house resources and capabilities is occurring globally across all sub-sectors (biotech, small to mid-sized pharma, and big pharma)”. As this trend continues to increase, firms must look at how they can complete work outside the walls of their own organization without compromising on data quality and security. A large part of the responsibility falls to these external connections. How can they help to generate actionable scientific results, wherever the data originates, in the right place, in the right format?

My two cents: portability, ‘incorporability’ and reproducibility. These are the key elements which they must perfect. Let’s take a closer look:

#1: Portability: data packages generated externally must reflect the client’s in-house procedures and data analysis methods, and be easily moved between the two parties intact.

#2: Incorporability: It should be possible to incorporate data and results into the rest of the client’s scientific data quickly, to facilitate fast, in-context decision making.

#3: Reproducibility: Data must be fully traceable, including specific data analysis methods and associated metadata. It must be captured in a format which supports collaboration and data sharing.

If executed correctly, these three ‘ilities’ can help external organizations to deliver the data their clients need, with consistency and efficiency. Data will be comparable with information and results from elsewhere with full traceability. Most importantly firms will also be able to take confidence in their data and resulting decisions.

Tomorrow, Professor Dr Jochen Maas, General Manager R&D Germany, Sanofi-Aventis Deutschland GmbH, will share thoughts on external co-operations and overcoming the innovation gap in pharma. Keep up to date with the latest from Connect 2014 via our Twitter feed.