The Evolution of Collaborative R&D

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak at the PRISME Forum on the topic of Collaborative R&D, a notion which builds on the concepts of Compliant Collaboration and Collaborative Science.

If you think of the capabilities required for Collaborative R&D, you think of a few key capabilities:

  • Multi-company single sign-on, otherwise known as identity federation
  • Regulatory compliant document collaboration & dissemination
  • Regulatory compliant application access, especially focused on applications like ELN, LIMS or even EDC and CTMS.
  • Regulatory compliant access to data
  • Access to staff through a variety of mechanisms

If you can get those implemented, then the level of collaboration goes deeper:

  • Compliant concurrent editing of documents, including structured content authoring
    • DITA
    • 21 CFR Part 11 “compliance”
    • Side-by-side (or concurrent) editing
  • Real-time, multi-company collaboration
    • Editing of documents
    • Instant messaging
    • Instant screen sharing
    • Instant document sharing
    • Instant conversation from instant messaging to voice calls

It is interesting to note that many of these capabilities have been available for years, the struggle has been integrating different companies versions or visions of these capabilities.  The evolution of these capabilities, and the platforms that support them, is fascinating – and was the focus of my discussion last week at the PRISME Forum.  The presentation is located here.

In order to walk through the evolution of “Collaborative R&D”, we started first by defining it.


The twist on defining Collaborative R&D was that I started the definition in order of the evolution.  Collaborative R&D started as document centric – that is collaboration was thought of simply around the document.  It was, of course, compliant with Part 11 and had – in a rudimentary form – multi-company access (not – importantly – federated identities). 

It was also data centric – in as much as the data was shared in discrete files and managed in a form very much akin to how documents were managed.  The data was most frequently shared through .CSV or Excel (.XLS) files, which in reality are documents even though people think of them as data files.

The evolution then went to Application Access, wherein access was provided through Terminal Services or open router ports.

The last step is concurrent collaboration – which provides federated identity, cross-company single sign-on, is socially aware within the company (like Yammer) and outside the company (like Facebook and SkyDrive) and is even inclusive of patients.

Of course, all of this is now wrapped in a multi-faceted delivery: on-prem or in the cloud; out-of the box through integrated ISV solutions that is standards based and utilizes an open architecture (i.e. web services).

So – if that is the evolutionary definition of Collaborative R&D, how would the Microsoft platform enable it:

Consider how the Microsoft Platform enables Collaborative R&D:

Capability Enabling Technology
Multi-Company Single Sign On
Identity Federation
Active Directory
Active Directory Federation Services
Regulatory Compliant Document Collaboration SharePoint, Office
Regulatory Compliant Data Access SharePoint, BizTalk, SQL Server
Presence Lync, SharePoint, Office
Patient Collaborative HealthVault, SharePoint, Skype, Lync, Messenger
Cloud Based Office 365, Azure
Socially Aware SharePoint, Yammer
Side-by-side Collaboration Lync, Office (OneNote, Word)


I could keep going, but you get the point: the Microsoft Platform is uniquely positioned to enable Collaborative R&D, either on its own or in conjunction with ISV software that is targeted towards Pharmaceutical R&D.

Note: If you are interested in other of my presentations, you can see them all in the Conference Presentation folder on my SkyDrive.  Let me know what you think!


image Les Jordan
Chief Technology Strategist | Microsoft Life Sciences
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