Below is an exclusive interview with the CEO of Zephyr Health, Lance Scott. Scott answers three of the most important questions about data today below.
1. What is Data’s biggest challenge in 2017?
The growing complexity of the healthcare stakeholder ecosystem is driving the production of increasingly diverse, unstructured and difficult to integrate data sources, making it harder for Life Sciences companies to get access to those insights that are key to their brand’s success. This can be particularly true for the commercial functions of Life Sciences companies, including marketing and sales. Marketing and sales sometimes utilize different and outdated insights on the customer and market, when they would benefit from a single view of the customer. Just like companies were able to manage their customers without CRM 10 years ago, and now having a CRM system is table-stakes for account management, today Life Sciences companies are overwhelmed by the quantity and complexity of Big Data. They need advanced analytics platforms that can integrate these data and extract timely, relevant and predictive insights.
The deep applicability of market access data is an excellent example. Market access has been a key driver in the evolution of the traditional ‘sales’ role, and in 2016 we saw tangible signs of acceleration in the convergence across customer-facing Life Sciences functions. In our report published earlier this year, we surveyed a cross-section of commercial teams and found that growing expectations have led to field sales representatives adopting a more consultative approach towards customer engagement. This requires a broader view of the market and a deeper understanding not only of their own therapeutic but of the competitive and market access landscape as well. To be poised for success, silos must be broken down and the data must be integrated across the enterprise.
In 2017, this convergence is continuing. I believe that data and supporting technology solutions that provide more stakeholders across commercial teams access to an integrated view of the entire data landscape are a leading innovation needed in pharma today. We have the greatest opportunity to connect the myriad of data sources available, via the right technology, and bring those together to provide a single, transparent and current view of the market.
2. What are the top five things everyone needs to know about data?
A. Adopt a seamless, big data/little data approach when creating a go-to market strategy
As an industry, we need to look towards other industries, from financial services to travel, that have used data to transform their business. We need to be more committed to making the patient – ultimately a customer – a part of that innovation. Those two industries, for instance, have improved the customer experience while simultaneously making it increasingly digital. I’m not suggesting substituting the patient-physician relationship with a digital alternative, but thinking about the complete lifecycle of a product coming to market. Using data to drive the strategic plan and successful adoption of that product, and integrating customer data every step of the way, will help us continue to fuel innovation from a commercial perspective. Having a common vision, spanning from analytics and technology to marketing and medical affairs, will be an integral part of this innovation.
B. Big Data and analytics are more than CRM and data-management
2016 was supposed to be a critical year for the Life Sciences industry to adopt Big Data and analytics strategies more broadly. The primary focus was on implementing a Big Data strategy with technology solutions that can integrate multiple data sources and extract valuable insights for customer-facing teams. However as evidenced in a recent McKinsey report, “The Age of Analytics ”, the healthcare industry as a whole has yet to capitalize on this value.
The industry needs to have a strategic vision for data and analytics – how will they align the organization around the insights once they have them? What will be the driving insights for core business value and performance? How will they change their business processes and teams to support a new, data-driven way of managing commercialization? Today CRM plays a significant role for physician-facing teams, but it offers a one-dimensional view of the market and the customer. And, data management systems are excellent containers and organizers of data, but they are not helping business users extract value.
As an industry, we need greater urgency around data integration capabilities that can unite teams and enable new insights and business processes to make faster, more accurate decisions supported by data.
C. Predictive analytics will improve customer relationships
In 2017 the drive is towards competing in a data-driven environment and the focus is evolving towards delivering additional value with Big Data and advanced, predictive analytics. This will improve customer relationships. It also will fundamentally change the way Life Sciences companies do business, with data intelligence platforms being leveraged to strengthen and guide strategy, goals and incentives across departments. Sales, Marketing and Medical Affairs functions will benefit from a more acutely data-driven approach to customer profiling, pipeline nurturing and overall customer engagement including improvements in compliance.
D. Do not fear Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML)
The healthcare industry, despite many recent advancements, is still an analog industry that relies heavily on human intervention, human domain expertise and human experience. Many understand that AI/ML can transform the best-of-breed human qualities and expertise into code to bring that to scale. However, there is a reasonable level of caution regarding letting machines or computers make health-related decisions. Where improving commercialization and brand success for Life Sciences companies is concerned, there is much more enthusiasm around using AI/ML to predict high potential customers, best sales channels and targeted messaging.
E. Move beyond “disruptive” and embrace radical innovation with data
The term “disruptive” is overused. To me it means doing something that is fundamentally different from what we do today, how we do it, and with whom we do it. People, process and technology are essential components of bringing about innovation and must work in concert with one another. Our industry is at an exciting turning point where we need the kind of innovation that is not merely incremental, but radical – with the meaning of radical being “based on thorough or complete change.” By taking this kind of approach we can adopt the emerging technologies available to us. We also can align our processes and, importantly, ensure that our people have the right skill sets to support the adoption and execution of the kind of innovation that will separate the leaders from the pack.
3. What three things will change big data forever?
For us it’s two things – connection and interpretation. Today business intelligence solutions are great at connecting a finite number of data sources and grouping these by similar characteristics. The questions that are then asked of the data are reactive, and gives us a retrospective view of performance and insights. The future is advanced analytics when thousands of data sources are being aggregated, linked, and interpreted based upon domain expertise. The result is not a data set we need to ask questions of, but rather a series of answers and insights produced by the linkage itself. This is the future – where we are surprised by an answer to a question we haven’t yet asked, and where we get a completely new view of a customer or market thanks to these advanced analytics.
This unified, integrated approach to Big Data – managed through cloud-based systems – gives commercial and brand teams the ability to extract value from their data and use the insights to make more timely, informed decisions.
Early adopters are already enjoying the benefits of such systems and more companies will recognize the competitive edge that innovative technology solutions can provide. 2017 is the year of true paradigm shift in integrating data, platforms, analytics and end-user applications to revolutionize the way Life Sciences companies go-to and remain in-market.
About Zephyr Health
Zephyr Health is a partner for Life Sciences companies who strive to organize and visualize global health data to better connect their therapies. To learn more, please visit https://zephyrhealth.com/.