Why do senior representatives of leading companies in the Life Sciences sector view Modern BI for All as a continuous journey? Where are each of their organizations in that journey? And what advice do they have for other business leaders—in any industry—who are either on the same journey or contemplating how and when to embark upon such a path?
Those questions were among the many addressed during a recent Domo-hosted roundtable discussion featuring data and analytics evangelists at Merck and Astellas Pharma. And the answers they provided made for the kind of guidance anyone with an interest in challenging traditional approaches to BI is seeking.
From the start, the panelists made clear that their respective enterprise’s Modern BI for All journey began where most do: with identifying where all their meaningful data lived—including third-party data and data from offline systems—and then figuring out a way to bring it all together.
For Merck and Astellas Pharma, the latter portion of that critical first step was made in partnership with Domo, whose Modern BI platform enabled them to build high-value dashboards and cards that anyone with permission within their organizations can easily access from any device.
“With that data in our hands, we could do something with it,” said Vince Kelly, Astellas Pharma’s head of digital marketing and customer experience. “We could model it, and we could get insights out of it.”
Establishing a level of data agility—a pillar of Modern BI for All—meant Merck and Astellas Pharma could then create real-time reports at scale and even move data from Domo into other platforms.
Was getting to such a point easy? Not exactly. But as Janine O’Connor—who oversees technology, data, and analytics efforts related to Merck’s travel and meetings operations—said, there’s just no way around it.
“It can take a few iterations to get the data correct so it can be merged,” she explained, “and some data isn’t refreshed at the same frequency as other data. But we put notes in dashboards so users are aware of that, and we just keep communicating and striving to improve that foundation.”
As far as how another component of Modern BI for All—data literacy—has evolved at Merck and Astellas Pharma since they began their business intelligence transformation initiatives, Phil Hodes put Merck at “about a 3 or 4 (on a scale of 0-10)” while Vince answered the question using a baseball analogy.
“Everyone thinks they’re going to get nirvana out of the gates,” Vince said, “but the truth is, you won’t get anywhere without at-bats. People need more reps so they can become more comfortable. And that’s what’s happening for us.
“Getting everyone more involved in data has changed how we plan and go to market. We still have a ways to go, of course—we’re still only in Year 3 of our journey—but the mentality of ‘How quickly can we make adjustments?’ is definitely starting to flip.”
In other words, developing a culture that understands how to look at data is opening the door at Astellas Pharma to intelligent action, which is the third and final—and perhaps most important—element to Modern BI for All. It’s the element that separates businesses, because it’s where the real value in data lives.
“For us, that means changing the question from ‘What?’ to ‘What’s next?’” said Phil, who is in charge of process excellence and enterprise projects within Merck’s travel and meetings division. “It’s what will allow us to go beyond seeing ‘What has happened?’ to determining ‘What can or should we do in the future?’
“When should we do a digital event? Where should we hold a meeting? Whom should we invite? That’s where a lot of our focus is right now, because there’s real decision-making power in having that kind of insight and knowledge.”