Over the past decade, life sciences companies have been facing an exponentially increasing amount of data from an ever-growing number of internal sources such as customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems in addition to external sources like physician lists and social media.
To organize and access these data sources, companies have historically adopted master data management (MDM) solutions tailored specifically to the needs of each department. Created to serve a specific line of business – the product development lifecycle, for instance – these point solutions cannot easily scale to meet the needs of other departments or serve to provide a truly comprehensive view of company data.
The result is that pharmaceutical companies may be running several MDM solutions concurrently, so in the end, there is no real master data. This perpetuates the traditional silos between sales, marketing and product development teams and allows for an environment where decision-making is often hampered by a lack of data coordination and inconsistent data formats, which ultimately leads to hidden costs.
The first hidden cost of traditional master data management is, paradoxically, duplication. Every MDM point solution has its own costs for implementation, training and maintenance. Further, the solutions are likely to be on their own release schedules, which means an ongoing series of business operations disruptions, which is very costly across the enterprise.
The second hidden cost is that of missed opportunity. As life sciences companies have worked to meet the demands of the digital age – changing purchase paths, consumerization of healthcare and competitors with disruptive ideas or tech – they’ve come to realize that historical approaches are inadequate and have sought to gain process efficiencies and more effective business operations.
Say that a rep wants to visit a certain healthcare professional (HCP). To make the best impression, she needs to be equipped with up-to-date information on the location, which she may have. She also needs to know what go-to-market material the HCP has already requested or been sent, as well as any product releases that might, given prescription trends within the HCP’s geography, be of interest. This information would traditionally be found in separate marketing and product databases and would not be easily accessible to the rep.
Which brings us to the third hidden cost: customization. In an attempt to improve the collaboration between teams, increase visibility across the organization and drive better decision-making, some life sciences companies have turned to creating custom software to bridge their existing siloed MDM solutions. While seeming to meet the needs discussed above, this actually adds system complexity:
Whenever one of the systems the custom software bridges is updated, all systems connected to that software must also be updated and additional training provided.
As an important component of digital transformation for life sciences, a multidomain MDM solution can help achieve three significant benefits: (1) improved collaboration that opens new opportunities and strengthens customer relationships, (2) reduced training costs and workflow disruption, and (3) reduced IT complexity that brings down maintenance overhead.