Pioneering medical innovations while safeguarding IP


To get innovative medical devices to the market and manage the mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and alliances that are a core part of the business model, Allergan needed to balance fluid collaboration with tight governance over IP.



Box is used as a secure collaboration platform for all R&D partnerships as well as critical M&A activity, giving Allergan governance over unstructured data on top of a secure, easy-to-use, fast collaboration solution and eliminating the need to rely on external hard drives to transfer files.


Employees now have access to due diligence documents on day one of an acquisition instead of waiting a few weeks, accelerating the speed of acquiring critical new technologies. 

New medical devices can only get to the market with the help of fresh, innovative ideas moving through airtight processes. In an industry where intellectual property is everything, those responsible for its governance are critical players in the development process.

At Allergan, R&D Knowledge Management Program Director Steve Shimek is leading the charge by managing IT and integrations associated with mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and alliances that are a core part of the organization's innovative business model. At any given time, Allergan is party to numerous parallel integration efforts. 

"We're in the business of helping people live better lives longer," Shimek says. And finding better ways to manage and govern information is at the center of those efforts.  


"Intellectual property-related information is the key jewel of our industry."

 Steve Shimek, R&D Knowledge Management Program Director, Allergan


But IP is a tricky entity. For life sciences companies, it consists of both structured and unstructured data. "People have historically focused on structured data — and that's important," says Shimek, "but when you neglected unstructured data you ended up with information mismanaged." 

While governance of structured data has been given a lot of attention, not nearly as much proportional effort has been allowed by life sciences companies around governing their mounds of unstructured content. As a business and IT leader within the industry, he has used Box to create tight governance around valuable unstructured information, enabling scientists to focus on innovation and deliver much-needed medical solutions to those in need. 


Powerful, proactive M&A for faster time to market 

In his role as R&D Knowledge Management Program Director, Shimek is responsible for the R&D information and related technologies throughout the M&A and partnership integration process. Shimek has been involved in dozens of acquisitions and partnerships, helping new staff transition their data and processes to Allergan standards. He calls the people involved "my adopted children" because each net-new company and the accompanying employees are held close to heart as they travel together along the integration journey, with content being at the center of that process.

When Shimek began his current role at Allergan, the company was using SharePoint for internal collaboration on unstructured content, but he found that external partners could not access it behind the firewall and the performance and user experience were not acceptable. Rather than make do with the limitations of this system, Shimek brought in Box to displace file shares used across many data centers. "The goal for our original use case," he says, "was to position a secure, easy-to-use and fast collaboration solution for our many global R&D partnerships." 


"This initial experience with Box became a launch pad for the secure, easy-to-use collaboration platform that we now have in place for all our R&D partnerships."

Steve Shimek, R&D Knowledge Management Program Director, Allergan


Within a few weeks of vetting Box, he had assembled a pilot. Now Box is deployed enterprise-wide at Allergan, with 20,000 managed users and another 8,800 external collaborators. 

Intentional governance to protect critical content 

Shimek hasn't just been responsible for implementing new technology paradigms. He's also taken ownership of how they are used by creating content governance parameters that keep sensitive and critical content secure. Within his organization, Shimek has established governance protocols and naming conventions to ensure that all content is properly managed and accessible. 

"You can't have a bunch of folders called 'meeting minutes,' but that is what you get if you allow people to set up their own projects," Shimek says by way of example. Harmonized naming conventions are one of the policies he has instituted to fight against folder sprawl, duplicate content and lost files. 

The future of life sciences 

Allergan is looking forward to helping power the next wave of medical innovation on the way. "I think we're going to see a tipping point where patients begin self-monitoring health indicators and have the ability to share that data in real time with their physicians. This will dramatically impact the rate of care and dramatically prevent catastrophic events like heart attacks and strokes," Shimek says. 

"These same type of personal devices will also be used to increase participation in clinical studies while dramatically reducing the cost. This will lead to more and better therapeutics for patients," he adds. "Not only are we seeing wearable devices coming to the table that can measure one's vital signs, but we're also seeing them interact with medical implants and biosensors in real time. We are on the cusp of this new, uncharted technology age where personal devices meet healthcare and it is very exciting to me." 

For this new wave of innovation and growth to be successful, many different technologies must come together in an integrated tech stack for a highly functional and accurate ecosystem. Allergan is at the tip of the spear in the life sciences industry in driving this innovation on top of a best-of-breed tech stack.  

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