By Peter Lantry, Managing Director, Equinix Ireland
Digital infrastructure and technology are revolutionizing the way we approach expansion and growth in business, reducing risk and increasing flexibility. Much of this is thanks to the proliferation of hybrid multi-cloud, which eliminates the need for large investments and physical presence, instead allowing businesses to test the waters virtually and rapidly scale up and down to suit their ever-changing needs. Enables.
As one of the leading providers of digital infrastructure globally, Equinix has a key role to play in providing the digital pathway to enable this growth in a sustainable manner. By providing enterprises an efficient, faster path to expansion, we are helping them grow their geographic footprint while reducing their carbon footprint. By doing so, we are driving a truly sustainable global digital economy.
Highlighting this, our 2024 Global Interconnection Index (GXI) showed that organizations are now connecting with 30% more business partners in twice as many locations. These businesses are integrating technology to fundamentally transform operations and deliver value electronically, shifting revenues to digital and digitized services.
To see how other industry leaders are growing their businesses through the use of digital infrastructure, I spoke with Thomas O’Leary, CIO of ICON, a leading healthcare intelligence and clinical research organization,
Peter Lantry (PL): Tom, ICON is a true Irish success story; Which is benefiting people around the world by accelerating the delivery of life-saving medical equipment and medicines. Can you outline the scale of the business?
We are a world-leading healthcare intelligence and clinical research organization that currently employs approximately 41,150 people across 106 locations in 53 countries. Since ICON’s founding in Dublin in 1990, our mission has been to help our customers accelerate the development of medicines and devices that save lives and improve the quality of life.
At ICON, we work with pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, government and public health organizations. We focus our innovation on the factors that matter most to them – shortening time to market, reducing costs and enhancing quality – and our global team of experts has extensive experience across a wide range of therapeutic areas. Thus, we are recognized as one of the world’s
Leading contract research organization.
PL: Over the past two years, you’ve seen huge growth at ICON. What was involved from an IT perspective?
In July 2021, ICON acquired PRA Health Sciences in a deal valued at approximately $12 billion, paving the way for the leading health care intelligence organization we see today. A consolidation of this size is clearly a considerable undertaking. The IT infrastructure at both companies is important and as a result, it was a big factor in the acquisition. It was my job as CIO to navigate the often competing priorities of merging the infrastructure and collaboration capabilities of both companies; To combine the best of both business systems to meet market expectations.
This work – along with the implementation of new technologies that enhance team collaboration and streamline workflow – was done while maintaining business as usual operations for two very large legacy organizations. This could not have been achieved without the skills and expertise of the wider and end-to-end IT organisation, working closely with key business stakeholders. I’m really proud of the role the IT team played in making this acquisition successful.
We are now continuing to grow our business and offerings across all the markets in which we have a presence. The clinical research industry is a global industry and we are a truly global company in line with that. We are very proud to be an Irish company operating on this scale. ICON has grown largely organically, but we have fueled our growth through several strategic acquisitions, which have expanded our service portfolio and added scale to our existing services. Since we were founded, we have made over 30 acquisitions domestically and internationally. This has made ICON the world leader in full-service Phase 2/3 clinical research, as well as the world leader in functional service provision, allowing us to help our customers improve cycle-time, cost and have been able to provide a flexible approach to mitigating risks. In traditional, hybrid and decentralized clinical trial models.
PL: ICON is clearly a company with limitless and exciting ambitions. How will you and your team support this growth?
Our IT team has a multi-pronged approach to how it enables ICON’s growth and expansion plans. We employ our own IT staff, and also work with specialist IT service providers to deliver our services. We also leverage capabilities including robotic process automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Our Centers of Excellence globally support this and enable us to operate on a 24 hour, 5 day per week basis.
PL: Is the flexibility of IT infrastructure important for scaling operations or expanding into new markets?
As a provider of clinical development services, flexibility is important in ICON’s operations and the same is true of the demands placed on our IT. Our IT organization must be able to support and maintain our own infrastructure along with the capabilities provided through our cloud partners. Additionally, to meet the often unique needs of clinical research, we need the ability to develop custom solutions that are not available off the shelf. Because we are a strategically acquisitive business, we will continue to make acquisitions in the market, and so the IT team is regularly tasked with integration projects and the creation or implementation of new enterprise-wide platforms.
PL: How do you build the ongoing need for flexibility into the culture and ethos of your IT teams?
The clinical trials industry has always been an environment that requires flexibility, consistency, creativity and ingenuity; And ICON’s IT organization is constantly tasked with meeting these changing needs. Through our annual budget planning process, we identify the needs of the IT organization over the next one to three years and determine where we need to develop more knowledge and skills internally, as well as Making sure we have the right service partners to get it done. Future demand. We use our forecasting tools and capabilities to identify the type and amount of resources needed and for what time frame, and build this into the overall IT roadmap. This roadmap is reviewed and updated on a monthly basis as part of our project review forums, all of which underpin our ability to successfully deliver IT services at ICON.
The growth of enterprises like ICON would not be possible without the interconnections provided by companies like Equinix to facilitate a truly global, digital economy. These connections are helping to realize true business value, GXI shows, enabling industry leaders to generate 60%+ more revenue and value. By adopting an interconnected ecosystem, organizations can establish a flexible and comprehensive digital presence, placing themselves at the forefront of this movement to take full advantage of the opportunities it presents.
To read more about Equinix’s Global Interconnection Index and learn more about the evolution of the digital economy, you can download the report Here,