Managed Services Meets Life Sciences Vertical

When it comes to vertical market managed services, MSPmentor focuses considerable attention on health care and financial services. But perhaps it's time for MSPs to focus some time on life sciences customers -- which includes businesses focused on biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and biomedical equipment. The reason: The life sciences vertical is attracting investment money, which means life sciences companies have money to spend -- though they don't necessarily want a huge IT infrastructure.

The biotech segment, in particular, stood out in a recent venture capital report. PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association ranked biotech second in VC dollars invested during the second quarter of 2011. The $1.2 billion outlay for biotech trailed only the software industry, which topped the Q2 investment list at $1.5 billion, according to the study.

The report suggests that VCs are spending money to replenish their life sciences portfolios, noting exit activity -- mergers and acquisitions -- over the past year in the biotech and medical device fields.

An Emerging Niche

Can MSPs cultivate a niche in life sciences? Some already have. West Monroe Partners, a Chicago-based management consulting firm with a managed services practice is experiencing growth in that field.

“We are seeing the overall healthcare market quickly expanding with biotech and life sciences being a key sector for the growth,” noted Mark Nelson, director of managed services at West Monroe Partners.

Nelson said he’s encountered startups or early-growth firms that need 24x7 support and have concerns regarding downtime, compliance, and security. The requirements are complex, but acquiring in-house technical personnel may not be the preferred option for meeting those needs.

“Hiring an entire internal IT staff to match these requirements is something they believe isn’t the best way to scale their IT infrastructure,” Nelson said.

Other companies offering managed services in the life sciences sector include Court Square Group, based in Springfield, Mass., and MUSA Technology Partners, based in Cambridge, Mass.

What Are They Buying?

In turning to a managed services, life sciences firms purchase a range of offerings. Nelson said he’s seeing full IT outsourcing -- from help desk to infrastructure management to application management. To differentiate, West Monroe Partners also provides expertise in customers’ key applications for quality assurance and quality control, he added.

CIO services for IT strategy and planning are a part of the services mix as well. And life sciences companies going through mergers or acquisitions may need a partner to perform M&A carveouts and migrations, Nelson explained.

Life sciences is a demanding vertical. But, on the other hand, there’s ample room to push beyond the typical batch of MSP services.
TAGS: Strategy
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