Archive for the ‘speaker interview’ Category

Exclusive Q&A with Ian Helliwell, Senior Architect at AstraZeneca

Ian Helliwell is Senior Enterprise Architect at AstraZeneca.

He will be presenting in the Comms and Collaboration Theatre at Cloud World Forum at the Olympia in London (24-25 June) on Collaboration in the Cloud: Lessons Learnt from a Multinational, covering:

  • Understanding the experience of moving to a collaborative cloud in a large enterprise
  • Overcoming obstacles to opening up systems and openly sharing
  • Identifying and breaking down behavioural challenges
  • Leveraging the advantages at the end of the implementation journey

We took a few minutes with Ian to talk about his career and thoughts on the Cloud market, covering the specific challenges of the pharmaceutical industry, some of the innovative projects being undertaken at AstraZeneca, and the status of Cloud in his market, compared to other industry verticals.

Firstly, we discuss some of the challenges of the pharmaceutical sector.

What AstraZeneca aims for, compared to generic manufacturers, who take established off-patent drugs and market them as cheaply as possible, is the innovative specialist drug market. The challenge there is the length of time that it takes to get such a drug to market – “you get a 20 year patent on a new drug and yet it probably takes you at least 10 years to get it to market to go through all the clinical trials, effective medicine, the regulatory hurdles to get it to a point they can launch it to the market”. So these innovative drugs can be seen as very expensive, and AstraZeneca are therefore challenged on cutting costs down as much as possible, as well as on price, from the NHS or big healthcare providers in the US market, for example.

“So we have a big opportunity or a big challenge, whichever way you look at it, to try and make the best uses of the data and our processes to try and both cut down cost and also reduce those lead times.”

Another evolution that AstraZeneca and their pharmaceutical competitors are seeing is the degree of partnering in the industry. There are certain processes and products that other companies are betterplaced to develop, rather than them being developed in house. “There are small startup pharmaceutical research companies, BioPharms, the University spinoffs, the ones who have the creative ideas to develop a new drug but just don’t then have the size and weight of the company to take that drug through to market”.So they are looking at what is core to their business, and offloading anything that isn’t core to other organisations. From an IT perspective, a challenge of such partnerships is around sharing data easily across company boundaries. Speaking of data, another challenge is how to get the best out of their data. This is no longer just about information that they have within the company, but information that is available through other research organisations, academic institutions, and other published data.

“So it’s given a huge opportunity to use technologies and techniques for big data mining and to gather the intelligence from the massive amounts of data that this company has generated over many, many years.”

The amount of data generated for the pharmaceutical industry is only going to increase. There is therefore an opportunity to gather far more and far better patient-related data, with smart devices that patients can use to self-monitor, to help them administer their dosages, to record data. Previously the information that came back from the marketplace about the effectiveness of drugs was greatly averaged, but that data is becoming increasingly user-by-user specific.Leading on from this, we talk about some of the innovative, exciting projects that are currently being undertaken at AstraZeneca. Many people see the pharmaceutical industry as being particularly advanced in terms of IT and analytics, and these analytical models are helping scientists increase and improve the personalisation of medicine, looking at how a drug can be tailored to suit an individual rather than the attitude being “here’s a generic drug which everybody with that disease takes and hopefully it will have an overall good effect”.

Read the full interview here

Ian will be presenting in the Comms and Collaboration theatre at the Cloud World Forum, at Olympia Grand in London on the 24th – 25th June 2015, on ‘Collaboration in the Cloud: Lessons Learnt from a Multinational.’

Don’t miss the chance to take advantage of all the knowledge and networking opportunities presented by EMEA’s only content-led Cloud exhibition.

Register for your FREE exhibition pass here!


Putting Cloud prejudice aside in the cultural heritage sector

Pre-event interview with Pavel Kats for the Public Sector World Cloud Forum.

Pavel Kats is Chief Technology Officer at the Europeana Foundation, and is chairing a panel session at Public Sector Cloud World Forum, entitled Reviewing European Cloud Initiatives for Societal Applications.

Beyond core public services, cloud solutions are increasingly being adopted across Europe for societal applications such as education, arts and culture, science and digital citizenship. Key stakeholders in societal cloud adoption will discuss issues including:

  • Outlining cloud initiatives in the cultural heritage sector – the current work of Europeana (the European Culture portal)
  • Designing and implementing an aggregated infrastructure to support local content in the Europeana cloud (LoCloud initiative)
  • Examining cloud services and applications to foster ‘creative cities’
  • Understanding the strategic plan for scientific cloud computing in Europe
  • Reviewing educational applications that can be supported by the cloud

We took a few minutes to talk to Pavel about his experience, responsibilities and hopes for the event. Public Sector representatives can claim a free pass for the event.

Which opportunities, from your point of view, can cloud computing bring to the cultural heritage sector?

The opportunities are immense because cloud computing has the potential to drastically change how this sector works. Contrary to associations that the word may invoke, cultural heritage institutions are increasingly involved in the digital, like everyone else today. Museums, libraries and archives have entered the new world, where they are expected by citizens, policymakers and sponsors to be active in cyberspace in many ways. They are expected to feature their content online and engage audiences, create rich media experiences on par with commercial media outlets and play by the rules of social media. This is quite a challenge for institutions traditionally oriented towards preserving the past rather than adapting to the future. Add to this financial limitations due to the crisis and you get the idea. Cloud computing provides exactly the opportunity required in this time of change. The good news is that a lot of what the sector does requires expertise already available elsewhere: efficiently operating IT infrastructures, the ability to handle large amounts of media, collaboratively improving the quality of content and making it more accessible to users, developing big-data applications using content etc. A lot of this expertise comes from using or building cloud computing services. If the cultural heritage sector is bold enough to proactively adopt cloud computing, then the prominence cultural content can gain in our lives is limitless.

How does Europeana plan to leverage cloud computing in the next 12 months?

We have ambitious plans for cloud computing. We start with critically assessing our own operations and farming out to cloud providers those parts which are better run by them. Continue to the infrastructure level where we adopt a novel Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) approach to developing and hosting applications. Here, we expect to gain efficiencies in how Europeana and its wide network of technology partners develop collaboratively the Europeana service. Last, but definitely not the least, when it comes to content, which is the lifeblood of everything we do, we launch an ambitious Europeana Cloud Services initiative whose goal is to build a Europe-wide cloud-based infrastructure for sharing and distributing cultural heritage content. This is our flagship project aimed at gaining efficiencies in how the European cultural heritage sector aggregates and distributes data. And there is a lot to gain there.

What are the main steps in building success and managing failure in cloud implementations in your sector?

Making the cloud a success is a lot about overcoming prejudice through better education and knowledge sharing. Cloud is a natural next step in the evolution of computing services, but it has undeservedly got a bad press thanks to some juicy stories. But also because regulation is lagging after technological development and that is not technology´s fault. The main steps should be to put prejudice aside. We need to quickly get away from cloud ‘gossip’ and look at specific functional and non-functional requirements. We have to choose experienced technology partners and work in short implementation cycles to mitigate problems. Cloud implementations have to be firmly backed by management because you never know where you will end up after stepping on the cloud path. A lot of changes in an organisation may be required to implement the cloud efficiently.

Why are you speaking at the Public Sector Cloud World Forum and what do you hope to get out from your time at the event?

There are not many cloud initiatives in our sector and we are interested in sharing our plans but also getting feedback from others. It would be great to connect with like-minded initiatives and exchange ideas and experience. Novel technologies, such as cloud computing, is not the first thing that comes to people´s mind when they think of the cultural sector. This might be changing today and we are here to talk about it and raise awareness of the very cool things going on in our sector.

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