Survey: Pharma execs want more clinical trial, pricing information from cloud

Pharmaceutical and life sciences (PLS) executives are eager for better information as they make strategic decisions for their companies — from improving clinical trial design to improving pricing strategies to quickly identifying fraud, waste and abuse.

Our Cloud Business Survey polled executives asking about their goals for cloud technologies and how they were realizing value from transformation. The results: The top 10% of “cloud-powered” companies, those that have reinvented their business using cloud services, report fewer barriers to realizing value (and are realizing value at double the rate of other companies). They also expect to see continued revenue growth of 15% or greater in the current business environment.

PLS companies can learn from these leaders in cloud adoption. While 40% of PLS respondents said all of their operations are already using cloud services and an additional 55% will be fully cloud-operational within two years, less than half gave themselves a top grade for cloud maturity. The survey found those cloud-powered companies across industries — the ones reaping the greatest benefits — are more likely to undergo a full cloud transformation rather than take an infrastructure-first cloud approach. For example, companies that leverage cloud to enable business transformation, rather than stop at simply moving their on-premise workloads, were those that reported out-sized value compared to others.

Another shared trait for cloud success that should resonate for the pharma industry: Cloud-powered companies are more likely to have buy-in and collaboration across the C-suite and more likely to have a formal data, analytics and artificial intelligence strategy. Key business functions spanning from tech to talent are in sync from the earliest stages of planning, budgeting and requirements gathering for cloud efforts.

Where is your pharma company on cloud maturity?


All-in on cloud and have scaled it throughout the business


Adopted cloud in many parts of the business, evolved operating model


Started implementing cloud in some parts of the business

Q: Which of the following best describes your company’s cloud maturity?
Source: PwC 2023 Cloud Business Survey, January 2023, base: 60

“Information is in demand. Pharma and life sciences companies need data-driven insights when they are making decisions.”

The potential for competitive advantage in the cloud

Cloud-native solutions hold great promise to transform many parts of the PLS value chain, including R&D, commercial, back-office operations, the supply chain and participant (e.g., HCP, patients, caregivers) experience. Built to leverage the technology innovations developed by the cloud providers, these solutions use cloud capabilities such as intelligent search, natural language processing, natural language generation and artificial intelligence to help deliver solutions that don’t just make tasks easier but can transform entire processes. 

Beyond upfront savings on infrastructure costs, the real value in cloud comes when companies are able to move faster, derive new insight and be more efficient — gaining competitive advantage in the process. For PLS companies, those can include: 

  • Improved customer and patient experiences: Deliver more effective, personalized treatments and find new ways to connect with patients via digital solutions.

  • Bringing therapies to market faster:

    • Accelerate recruitment and reduce patient burden and amendments by improving clinical trial design, providing a streamlined experience for patients and providing opportunities to lower clinical trial costs.

    • Automate the creation and approval of marketing claims and advertising approvals and accelerate product launches in the process.

    • Provide new insights into regulatory strategies to speed the approvals of new treatments across global markets.

  • Digitized supply chain: Design and implement a more modern, resilient, interconnected supply chain at scale in a targeted, cost-effective manner.

Where pharma sees the most potential for cloud-native solutions

Cloud analytics for improved clinical trial design, pricing strategies, and insights in fraud, waste and abuse
Data interoperability and trusted research data exchanges
Patient engagement

Question for pharma and life sciences executives: Which areas do you feel have the biggest value potential for leveraging cloud native solutions for the pharma and life science industry over the next 12 months?

Source: PwC 2023 Cloud Business Survey

Cloud services already help make these examples of virtualization, automation and prediction real. When asked where they see the most potential in the cloud-native solutions, analytics topped the list in the industry (87%). Information is in demand. Pharma and life sciences companies need data-driven insights when they are making decisions. Data interoperability and the potential it holds to take research data exchanges to the next level across the industry (53%) and the wide spectrum of use cases for improved patient engagement (42%) were also highly rated cloud-native uses by industry respondents.

Where pharma stands in the cloud today

While the sky’s the limit for cloud capabilities — and for business benefits — many PLS executives are still searching for realized value. Survey respondents rated the extent to which cloud was delivering measurable improvement across a dozen transformation outcomes. For most, less than half of pharma and life sciences respondents reported achieving measurable value.

The survey found executives placing more trust in cloud services, with executives touting improved cyber posture (57%) and stakeholder trust (53%).

Areas where many pharma respondents were less likely to already realize measurable value? Resilience, agility and faster time to market. These outcomes are some of the most valuable across all PLS companies and should be the focus for PLS execs looking to truly unlock value from their cloud investments.

Echoing their counterparts in other industries, more than half of pharma and life sciences executives also said they have yet to achieve their intended outcomes in important areas like cost savings, improved resilience and development of new revenue streams.

Pharma executives should feel good that they are making progress, but being cloud-powered means you are reinventing your business. And that’s where you can find competitive advantage in the years ahead.

Where pharma is finding value in the cloud*

Improved cyber posture
Enhanced stakeholder trust (e.g., through cybersecurity and privacy measures or shared customer responsibility)
Cost savings
Increased productivity
Innovation in products and services
Improved decision-making
New revenue streams
Improved profitability
Enhanced customer experience
Increased agility
Faster time to market
Improved resilience

Q: Which of the following best describes how cloud technology is, or is not, delivering measurable value in your organization? (Response to ‘Already achieved measurable value’)

Source: PwC 2023 Cloud Business Survey

*Percentages rounded

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Matthew Rich

Principal, PwC US

Amit Sinha

Managing Director, Cloud and Digital Practice, PwC US

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