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An Unprecedented Data Revolution in Life Sciences

An Unprecedented Data Revolution in Life Sciences

The growing volume and complexity of data make data management more critical than ever.

The volume of data generated in the life sciences industry is expanding at an extraordinary pace. This data explosion is driven by advances in technology—for example, Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), smart sensors, wearable devices—and a surge in collaboration across different sectors and partners. Sources contributing to the vast pools of data include electronic health records, wearables, patient-reported outcomes, and high-throughput technologies (that generate large-scale data related to disciplines of biology, like genomics).

Genomic sequencing data, clinical trial data, real-world evidence, and other forms of structured and unstructured data come from pharmaceutical companies, biotech startups, healthcare providers, academic institutions, and regulatory bodies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Each entity enriches the potential for discovery, organizational insights, and innovation.

Rethink Your Approach to Data Management

To overcome challenges and capture the opportunities data presents, life sciences organizations need a robust approach to data management. It’s not enough to merely store data; it must be ready for use. It must be clean, well-organized, accessible, secure, and interoperable.

Emerging concepts like Data Mesh and Data Fabric are gaining traction. They offer a means to manage data in a decentralized yet connected manner.

Data Mesh

As an approach to data architecture and organizational design that recognizes the interaction between people and technology, Data Mesh advocates for domain-oriented decentralized data ownership and architecture. It emphasizes self-serve data infrastructure as a platform to enable autonomous, cross-functional teams to access and handle data with minimal friction. Data is treated as a product and focuses on end-users’ needs.

Data Fabric

On the other hand, Data Fabric provides an integrated layer of data that connects processes. This fabric enables efficient access to data across the entire organization, regardless of where the data is located or what application created it. It offers a unified architecture that facilitates data discovery, governance, and integration.

By integrating concepts like Data Mesh and Data Fabric into a data management strategy, data ecosystems become scalable, flexible, and primed for the advanced applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML).

AI’s Role in Data Mesh, Data Fabric, and the DIKW Model

In both the Data Mesh and Data Fabric concepts, AI enhances data discovery, quality, and integration, and improves predictive analytics. AI-driven automation significantly reduces the time for data preparation and analysis, aids in regulatory compliance, and ensures consistency across various data sources.

To see the path from raw data to insightful decision-making in the context of AI, it helps to understand the Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom (DIKW) model.

  • Data is raw, unprocessed facts and figures without context, like numbers, dates, and strings collected from various sources.
  • Information is data that’s been processed, organized, or structured to provide context. Information answers basic questions like who, what, when, and where.
  • Knowledge is information combined with experience, context, interpretation, and reflection. It’s actionable and answers “how” questions.
  • Wisdom is knowledge applied through action or decision-making, often considering broader contexts and moral or ethical dimensions.

AI is a powerful catalyst at each stage of this model. For example, it:

  • Shifts from simple data collection to generating high-quality actionable data tailored for AI algorithms
  • Enables real-time data processing and interpretation for faster and more accurate insights
  • Predicts outcomes and prescribes actions to transform how knowledge is applied in decision-making
  • Integrates responsible AI, ethics, and transparency into the wisdom stage

So, while the fundamental DIKW model remains relevant, AI introduces a new dynamic where the transitions between data, information, knowledge, and wisdom are more fluid, rapid, and interconnected. The AI-influenced paradigm emphasizes speed and efficiency in data processing, the quality of data, the ethics of AI use, and the importance of human oversight in decision-making processes.

AI/ML technologies uncover patterns and insights at a scale and speed beyond human capability and are being applied to more advanced use cases like:

  • Developing synthetic data. Generated by AI trained on real-world data samples, synthetic data helps overcome data scarcity by covering a wider range of scenarios than real-world data. It also addresses privacy concerns by minimizing the amount of personal data processed by AI applications and preventing information from being traced back to individuals.
  • Creating digital twins. By simulating an individual’s health profile, healthcare providers are able to intervene proactively, prevent complications, and optimize treatment plans to revolutionize personalized medicine.

As life sciences organizations navigate the data deluge, the importance of effective data management cannot be overstated. Access to clean, well-organized, and interoperable data will differentiate life sciences leaders, foster innovation, accelerate research and development, and contribute to the health and well-being of populations worldwide.

How USDM Can Help

Data is the lifeblood of AI. USDM helps your life sciences organization establish a data governance framework that ensures the integrity and security of your data as you apply AI to your business use cases.

People are the weak link in responsible AI, but USDM provides the training and expertise to strengthen your position. Contact us today to discuss an AI governance framework that will work for your organization.


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