The other day, I was watching Cory Johnson interview Bryson Koehler, CTO and CIO of The Weather Company, on Bloomberg West. While the talk focused on The Weather Company’s business model, I thought several points during the discussion were quite relevant to life sciences companies. Frankly, they’re applicable to most industries.
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The Weather Channel, which Bryson says produces the world’s best weather forecast, has a handful of businesses that include mobile applications and websites. It even has a highly-sophisticated marketing and ad platform. Think of it like this: you might see an ad related to golf on a hot day or snow blowers if the weather is calling for a foot of snow in Boston. Bryson says that weather impacts a third of the world’s GDP. Clearly, there’s plenty of money to be made with their engine. But, The Weather Channel is also in the business of providing its data and science to companies that want to leverage it with their own products (e.g., weather apps, mobile operating systems) and services (e.g., aviation, energy, retail). Without a doubt, there’s a lot of focus and attention that needs to be placed on developing all of these solutions.
When Bryson started at The Weather Company in 2012, the company ran 13 data centers. It took a lot of energy out of the company, making it a challenge for them to do their real job of producing revenue-generating solutions. Fast forward to today and all of their systems are running in Amazon’s data centers. The move to a third-party hosting provider has enabled them wash their hands of their IT management issues, focus on what they do best, and save a ton of money – 65% savings over the cost of operating their own IT infrastructure.
So, how does this relate to life sciences companies? Pharmaceuticals, biotechs, medical device companies, CROs, academic medical centers – anyone producing drugs and devices or running trials – are in business of doing just that. They need to be spending their time, effort, and resources developing their pipelines, managing what’s on the market, and providing the best service possible to their patients and clients. They need to spend their time making sure they’re collecting the right data accurately. And, they need to focus on making sure they’re following industry regulations. They do not need to be spending their efforts building and maintaining an IT infrastructure. Those functions should be handled by IT experts.