Big Data: A Big Opportunity for 2013
Big data became a priority in 2012 as companies found themselves with a lot of raw information but little analysis or the right tools to manage the data.
The statistics don’t lie: 2.5 Exabytes of data is created every day, 90 percent of the data in the world today has been created in the past two years alone and there are an increasing number of new companies emerging to solve the big data problem.
The overall consensus is: no matter what your industry, big data is a problem you can’t ignore. But while pharma certainly has felt the impact of enormous amounts of data, until recently most would not classify it as a true “big data” problem on the commercial side of the business.
In most industries, the biggest problem for organizations is finding the business value in big data. Gathering data isn't the hard part for them; it’s what to do with all that data that is the challenge. Pharma is a bit different. This is not to say data is easy to manage; it never has been. It’s complex, it’s raw, there’s a lot of it, and it is difficult to define the information most important and fundamental to business objectives while simultaneously meeting the needs of multiple users.
But pharma recently has become much more data-savvy. Companies have begun to put a high value in understanding their information to create stronger relationships with their customers and fare better in the market. New companies have emerged that focus on packaging unique new sets of proprietary information that deliver new perspectives on customer and patient behavior across varied settings.
As a result, the industry focus is shifting from an IT perspective to a business perspective – where the data is used as a competitive advantage. Already this change has been felt. Social media data created a new category of analytics to better understand customers and physician sentiment, influence and relationship with a company. Social data has also reshaped our understanding of things like brand awareness, loyalty and campaign effectiveness. The conversations happening on social media are seemingly endless, but extremely valuable in generating a clearer understanding of the fluid market, and will impact the business decisions of every major pharma company.
Patient-level data is another new area of focus. Consumer-driven, patient-centered health care continues to gain importance within the pharma industry, and the availability and quality of patient-level data sources has significantly improved. We now have a wealth of longitudinal data accessible, which tracks patient medical history (prescriptions, diagnoses, procedures, physician visits, hospitalizations, lab tests, etc.) over time.
Similar to historical financial data, patient information not only provides us a retrospective view into health care, but also gives us foresight into future treatment strategies. The data can be leveraged to gain predictive insights, such as determining the profile of patients who are at high risk for chronic disorders and outlining their likely treatment algorithm. The insights gleaned from online social and community channels have the potential to fill the qualitative gap – the “why” behind treatment decisions – that currently exists in data.
The pharma industry is in the midst of a transformation – from being dependent upon traditional market analysis to one that now requires data-driven decision making. With pharma continuing to tighten its spending, and the volume of data increasing exponentially, I believe the roles of data management and analytics will be hugely important moving forward as we seize the opportunity within “big data.”
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