Ken Lownie recently joined Agatha as the head of North American Operations. We caught up with him to get his perspective on the state of software solutions for Life Sciences companies.
Editor: Hi Ken, Welcome back!
Ken Lownie: Thanks a lot. I am really excited to be back in the health tech space. I’m passionate about helping life sciences companies implement effective, smart software solutions.
Ed: You have been away from the life sciences market for about five years. What do you see that has changed in that time?
KL: Well, I can’t speak to the whole market — there is an extraordinary array of software products sold to life sciences companies — but in the one space that I know, core content management solutions, a lot has changed, very quickly.
The market has gone through a lot of change over the last thirty years, starting in the 90s when companies were buying broad document management platforms like Documentum, OpenView, and FileNet. Some companies were even building solutions for themselves to address areas like SOP and TMF management. Over time, the market shifted and companies started buying those solutions [SOP and TMF] as “modules” instead of building them and that still happens. More recently though, there was another shift to buying these modules as SaaS solutions. Veeva is an example of one of these SaaS vendors.
The need to make it easier from an IT perspective to implement these types of business software solutions has driven many of these evolutionary changes. And now I think we are on the threshold of a new wave of solutions.
Ed: When you say a new wave, what do you mean?
KL: As I said, most of the changes in this space have been driven by a need to make it easier to implement these solutions from an IT perspective, or to avoid having to deal with the IT department at all. But the need to make business applications much easier for the business side will drive this next wave. I think of it as the consumerization of these solutions, where they become user-friendly applications, ready to use out of the box, similar to many of the consumer applications we use today.
Ed: So if these apps are ready-to-use, how do you customize them to reflect the organization’s own business processes? Traditionally, business applications go through a period of customization and configuration before they are deployed to users.
KL: The idea is that you can START using them immediately, and then easily adapt them through parameter changes. You shape these kinds of adaptive applications to reflect your preferences and processes as you use them, instead of requiring an extensive project to analyze, predict and encode specific processes. In this way, it is a learning environment, with the system adapting to the organizations incrementally. The result is immediate productivity and payback, AND increasing value over time, all of which leads to the highest ROI.
Ed: I suspect this has something to do with why you joined Agatha?
KL: Yes, absolutely. I think Agatha’s approach — cloud-based applications ready to use and easy to adapt — is right where the market is heading. And my passion is seeing software deliver benefits in terms of increased efficiency, better processes and, ultimately faster time to delivering benefits to patients.
Beyond that Agatha has a great business in Japan and a solid base of business in the EU and in the US. It is clearly poised for a period of rapid growth. Nothing is as exciting as navigating the rapid growth period of a company. So I know this will be a lot of fun and will provide me the chance to work with a lot of innovative biotech, medical device, and pharma companies.
Ed: Thanks a lot Ken, I hope we get a chance to talk again in a few months and see how things are progressing.
KL: Thank you. It is great to talk about this market space. It is so dynamic, and so energized.