Companies across nearly every vertical are finding a transformational lifeline in industry clouds. Swiss biopharmaceutical Idorsia is one such company, having embraced a partnership with industry cloud provider Veeva to survive.\n\nIn June 2017, Idorsia had a lot on its plate, namely a new company to stand up, with 650 scientists and employees, a robust discovery pipeline, early-stage clinical assets, and plans to launch commercial products within five years.\n\nMore challenging, its spin-off from Actelion following Johnson & Johnson\u2019s acquisition meant there were no systems or technology platforms. Idorsia needed a partner to help it move through the arduous scientific process and multiple-nation regulatory processes that accompany drug launches.\n\n\u201cWe started with a blank page. I actually had no other choice than going for the cloud at that time,\u201d says Joseph Bejjani, CIO of Idorsia, who selected Veeva, an industry cloud for life sciences. \u201cVeeva covers a large scope of our environment from clinical development to quality regulatory affairs from a user experience in one interface.\u201d\n\nThat\u2019s just one of the benefits of an industry cloud, he says. Veeva\u2019s life sciences cloud, for example, not only handles Idorsia\u2019s regulatory, sustainability, and commercial processes but also provides predefined FDA formatting.\n\nPerhaps most important, Idorsia taps into Veeva\u2019s evolving knowledge base, which encompasses data from other customers such as major pharmaceuticals giants Merck, Bayer, and Boehringer Ingelheim, the CIO says. And that is a major gain for a startup \u2014 getting the know-how and experience of Veeva\u2019s entire customer base, he says.\n\n\u201cCompliance is key for us, but industry knowledge is extremely important for a relatively small company. We get the collective knowledge of our industry,\u201d he says, noting that Idorsia also relies on Veeva to navigate regulatory issues that vary in each nation. \u201cVeeva cloud solution provides us with industry best practices.\u201d\n\nGoing vertical\n\nHundreds of \u201cindustry clouds\u201d tailored to specific verticals have been developed by a range of vendors, from hypervisors that sponsor vertical solutions to consulting firms that have built custom clouds for select clients.\n\nThese clouds are also often distinguished by the underlying partnership that resulted in the solution or the underlying platform on which the cloud runs. Veeva, for example, runs on Salesforce CRM.\n\nIdorsia\u2019s Bejjani says there are two components to the biopharmaceutical\u2019s Veeva cloud: one for R&D and another for commercial requirements. Idorsia chose Veeva when it was in the last phase of a clinical study of its first commercial insomnia drug. The company had only nine months to complete the process before submitting its application to the FDA.\n\nVeeva\u2019s solution captures all the management and technology checkpoints \u2014 the structure, output, and terminology, Bejjani says, adding that it then \u201cintegrates with another fundamental tool in our clinical operations. This file captures all the data that we use to submit our procedure. It\u2019s pre-defined with standard chapters. When you submit to the FDA, you must have clearly defined chapters.\u201d\n\nIdorsia could build its own Salesforce-based solution but the value Veeva adds is immeasurable, its CIO notes. \u201cIt\u2019s better to go with an industry cloud because you inherit what research work the industry cloud provider has,\u201d he says.\n\nIdorsia currently has two products launched commercially. The insomnia solution launched in the US, Italy, and Germany. Last year, the company launched another product in Japan and currently has 10 products in clinical development, roughly half of which are in the late stages.\n\n\u201cThe configuration we have today has been extremely beneficial because I do have the vendor\u2019s attention. I have a unique setup. I have a large scope of functionality and systems,\u201d Bejjani says, noting his strategy and speed, simplicity and sustainability needs led him to choose a cloud platform based solution from a preferred vendor with strong industry knowledge and presence.\u201d\n\nMaking sense of a complex market\n\nGiven the variety of approaches and solutions, the industry cloud market has grown vast and complex. Consulting firms such as KPMG and Accenture agree there is no clear definition of what an industry cloud is, and its components, services, and technology stacks are still evolving.\n\n\u201cIt\u2019s a term that is still forming, but we would all agree on now is that it\u2019s using cloud technology to solve problems specific to an industry sector,\u201d says Marcus Murph, KPMG\u2019s US leader for cloud.\n\nMurph points out, for example, that Microsoft has a financial solutions industry cloud yet many enterprises use IBM for financial services in the cloud and still other financial companies have developed a high-end solution in conjunction with NASDAQ that includes analytics and machine learning models.\n\nMuch of the focus of industry clouds to date has been on foundational aspects of doing business in the cloud, such as which workloads to migrate to the cloud, whether to lift and shift those workloads directly to the cloud, or redesign them from scratch into cloud-native applications. But as Idorsia\u2019s use of Veeva shows, some industry clouds also offer industry-based tooling, such as \u201csolutions that address regulatory challenges and controls in different sectors, as well as data models specific to different vertical sectors,\u201d Murph says.\n\nDue to their nature, industry clouds likely will remain collaborative affairs. \u201cThe industry-based cloud has to be an ecosystem that stitches different technologies together and solves different problems,\u201d Murph says. \u201cI don\u2019t know that you\u2019ll ever see one company dominate an industry cloud on its own.\u201d\n\nCIOs must think strategically before selecting an existing industry cloud solution or building a custom industry cloud with a partner, says Ashley Skyrme, global cloud first strategy and consulting lead at Accenture.\n\nThis involves \u201crewiring their value chain\u201d of products, solutions, and services, namely rethinking their tech stack more strategically, orchestrating multiple data assets and unlocking data from many sources. \n\nSkyrme pointed to Volkswagen as a great example of an enterprise that built an automotive cloud platform by opening up and collaborating across different industries to bring its supply chain together.\n\n\u201cIt\u2019s not a pre-formulated kit,\u201d Skyrme says about defining the industry cloud. \u201cWe think of it as much more exhaustive across the cloud continuum. It\u2019s an evolving ecosystem of standardized, reusable, and interoperable digital assets. That\u2019s the holy grail of the industry cloud. Driving differentiation and growth \u2026 new products, new platforms, and new experiences.\u201d\n\nAs for Idorsia, embracing an early but established life sciences industry cloud has no doubt enabled the startup to turn its R&D into a profitable business \u2014 which can be more challenging than the science itself. And Bejjani is one CIO who is glad he didn\u2019t try to tackle it alone.\n\n\u201cWe could do it, but it would be very time consuming and expensive,\u201d he says. \u201cVeeva already created the vertical for the pharmaceutical industry and the workflows and terminologies of the industry are pre-configured and embedded in their product.\u201d\n\nFor enterprises like Idorsia whose tech stacks aren\u2019t their key differentiator, the value proposition of industry clouds is compelling.