Effective use of Data and IT Management

James Anderson, Director, Information Services - Business Relationship Management, Astellas Americas
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James Anderson, Director, Information Services - Business Relationship Management, Astellas Americas

Consolidate and Integrate Data to Drive Business

The dramatic increase in the availability of both internal and external data is impacting the strategic goals and future plans of pharmaceutical companies. Successful companies are valuing data as an asset and using it to identify new or previously unseen opportunities. To leverage this data in an efficient way, it is important to manage data in a similar fashion to traditional assets. This includes well designed data catalogs, management programs, governance models and systems. Additionally, collaboration facilitated by an executive level-sponsored committee represented by various business units increases awareness, creativity and outcomes for the business as a whole.

“IT leaders are challenged to find qualified IT professionals who have both deep business knowledge and the people skills necessary to build relationships and trust with clients”

Historically, pharma companies have implemented data driven solutions in compartmentalized silos across business units or functions. However, it is unrealistic to consolidate all inventoried data assets into a single enterprise platform. Consolidating data into centralized repositories is valuable and achievable and can reduce costs, create efficient data access and increase data security. As the number of data tools, data mining expertise and business data acumen continues to grow outside of IT business units, the role of IT is shifting to a data concierge model. In this model, data is aggregated into centralized repositories where day-to-day operations, quality control, security, and validation is performed by IT, while access to reports and tools is provided to internal business units, external partners and third party vendors where appropriate and allowed. This model eliminates the limitations of an IT-centric analytics team by empowering the expansive business knowledge of non-IT business unit data scientists, without sacrificing the controls and reliability of a traditionally managed platform. In addition, creating an IT Center of Excellence focused on exploring, evaluating and recommending new tools helps accelerate new approaches to data accessibility for data experts in the business.

It is tempting for IT and business teams to dive head first into big data or real world evidence projects. But building a solution without first knowing the questions that should be asked can be an expensive mistake. Engaging or developing the right technologies or services that can only be achieved by defining the scenarios you want to explore. Purchasing new data without having the tools, processes or opportunities defined can also be an expensive mistake. Ensure that you have the right skills and a defined data analytics roadmap if you are going to start with data first so that you don’t leave expensive data assets idle.

Valuable Lessons Learnt in IT Organization

The IT landscape is changing rapidly with the exponential growth of new cloud services and remotely hosted best-in-class solutions. Business teams are now able to reach out directly to vendors to contract for services at the click of a mouse, with little or no local capital infrastructure investment or IT support. The challenge of this scenario is that without governance, this practice can result in a chaotic, complex architecture that is difficult to maintain, grow or integrate. In order to allow the business to leverage these leading edge cost effective cloud solutions, the company IT vision, data security guidelines and overall IT architecture design must be clearly articulated and enforced. IT strategy must also be closely aligned with business strategy. IT leaders need to transform the IT organization from an operational service provider to a team of trusted advisors, providing strategic and tactical guidance to business units on solution feasibility, data security and integration of third party hosted solutions that can support an innovative business evolution.

Today, IT leaders are challenged to find qualified IT professionals who have both deep business knowledge and the people skills necessary to build relationships and trust with clients. Often, IT employees who are sourced from business teams (rather than traditional IT roles) find it easier to learn technical IT skills than legacy IT staff can learn people skills. IT leaders who are people managers need to carefully cultivate the internal consulting and relationship building skills necessary to allow IT to sit at the business strategy planning table, and also be open to recruiting more business savvy candidates. Fail to address these areas will make it difficult for IT to keep up with business customers who have dollars to spend and convincing cloud service salesman knocking at their door.

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