iStock_000041636236_SmallData is the new lifeblood for life sciences. Organizations are leveraging all available data to improve account management and predict business outcomes, and transforming themselves to be more data-driven, proactive and informed.

The amount of available data is growing for pharma—customer, product, market, competitive and social media, to name a few. These expanding sets of data need to be standardized and linked, which is where master data management (MDM) provides unparalleled value. MDM is the foundation that stitches all the data together, allowing organizations to pull insights from a comprehensive, single view of their business and their customers. Previous generations of MDM were large-scale on-premise technology implementations that took several months and even years to implement, and we’ve watched them lose their significance. Similarly, MDM as an afterthought or an initiative that piggybacks on a failed CRM implementation to clean up the mess is passé. We have seen MDM evolve and produce substantial business value like never before.

MDM is being redefined in a manner that it is driving the business toward better engagement with customers, an enhanced view of the market and, ultimately, improved revenue. Several emerging trends have been modernizing the approach to MDM and they all have similar goals—to create nimble organizations that are easily able to grow. One key trend that we have seen among growth-focused life sciences organizations is to take their master data management to the cloud. There are plenty of reasons for adopting this trend.

If managed well, the cloud can provide benefits and increase the usability of data. We have seen companies consider moving MDM solutions to the cloud for three main reasons:

  1. Flexibility: Data is consistently fluctuating for life sciences organizations. New physicians and their affiliations, competitor data and third-party data is ever changing and growing. All of this data is crucial to effectively understand customers and market potential.

The cloud is a substantial enabler and levels the field for competing organizations of all sizes—even smaller or growing organizations can compete. Today, businesses need data solutions that are not only highly adaptable, scalable and available, but also offer a flexible cost structure—all of which can be accomplished through a cloud-based MDM solution.

  1. Rapid deployment potential: Pharma companies come in many sizes, but no matter what the size, those that are focusing on growth, through either new product launches or acquisitions, need a unified view of their customers pretty quickly in order to be able to target them. A cloud-based MDM solution will enable a rapid time to value and offers the agility to create a solution and quickly deploy it without a large investment in infrastructure.

Innovation in cloud technologies is creating new business models for MDM—platform as a service (PaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and software as a service (SaaS). By leveraging these mechanisms, MDM solutions can be rolled out faster because they use tested, audited and certified infrastructure and reusable solution components with relatively low upfront investments, through a predictable cost structure in the pay-as-you-go model.

  1. Integration with other systems: Businesses expect (as they should) their MDM solution to integrate easily with enterprise applications, as well as with other cloud-based solutions or apps that have already been deployed.

Other cloud systems in pharma, such as Veeva and Concur, have been readily embraced. With established trends, we are seeing MDM increasingly integrated with cloud-based SaaS applications, and used for line-of-business purposes and specific business initiatives. Companies such as Reltio offer a blend of data-driven applications and modern data management in the cloud. This option is attractive for small to midsize business and those looking to get business value quickly. These companies working with a limited budget, or on a short timeline can exploit the flexible architecture and infrastructure requirements of the cloud, all of which can be done with the operational expense budget. For big pharma, these offerings represent an upgrade from legacy MDM systems that are reaching their limitations in terms of modern-day data types, relationships and volumes.

We have seen companies have the most success when the cloud-based MDM journey is coupled with a clear MDM strategy. This entails developing a managed services plan, identifying an MDM solution partner, as well as an SaaS provider, and exploring options for ongoing data stewardship in collaboration with (minimal) involvement of business users. It also means having a clear governance methodology, together with data stewardship services and SLA tracking. The MDM strategy should also include an execution road map for customizing and integrating the core enterprise systems with the cloud-based MDM solution.

While there are several steps to take before updating your MDM solution, the benefits of a more modern solution are quite appealing. Cloud-based MDM is viewed as an enabler of a flexible, cost-effective solution that can provide true insights about your key customers, and we predict this trend will continue in the near future for pharma companies.

Topics: Master Data Management (MDM), Bhargav Mantha, data management, Pharma, data, Cloud, MDM