Data Success Stories in the Biotech Industry


In a fast-growing biotech, how does data and information present as a risk and opportunity? To tackle this question, Chris Jennings moderated a panel discussion with biotech industry experts Jackie Fernandes, Jennifer Heckman and Anthony Murabito.

On the topic of utilizing data for business opportunities, Chris asked the panelists to share their successes and any specific examples of where data initiatives went really well.  

Jackie Fernandes led the discussion with an example of creating a data hub that resulted in amazing efficiencies for the team and organization. Specifically, after examining all the data in the company and gaining an understanding of what information cross-functional groups needed, IT was able to build a data hub to streamline everything into one cohesive structure. Jackie highlighted the impressive business impact of the effort by describing a time when their team was able to answer the CEO’s questions in a matter of three hours instead of three weeks! By pulling all data into a data hub with controlled access and security, the organization could execute quickly, make decisions faster and ultimately gain better performance on their testing. (Read more about Jackie’s experiences in her blog “4 ways IT controls can speed decision making in biotechs (Yes, really!)”)

Tony Murabito shared a powerful success experience while at Cubist Pharmaceuticals. When hired as the Head of IT, the company was about six months away from launching an antibiotic used for treating serious bacterial infections. To gain end-to-end visibility of their product—where it was going, who was buying it—Tony revealed how they leveraged data and information to build a complete sales model that provided invaluable market insights. Ultimately, the insights gained enabled Cubist to get a foothold in the marketplace, later translating into an impressive valuation and eventual sale of the company to Merck for billions of dollars. Tony concluded, “The insight that we had and then how to use it further was really eye opening for me.” (Read more about Tony’s experience in his blog “Translating Near Real Time Data Into Market Advantage”.)

Jen Heckman added her experience at a previous company where they successfully solved the problem of ‘multiple sources of truth’. She described a scenario where different teams (using different project management tools) had different answers to the same question regarding a study’s start date, leaving senior leadership with even more questions. Jen explained how scenarios like this can lead to lost faith in data, reduced overall confidence and the potential of making detrimental decisions using untrustworthy data.  

To tackle the problem, Jen shared how the company focused on communication and systems integration between the operational and strategic teams. By identifying the source of truth, encouraging team collaboration and ensuring the two systems actually ‘spoke’ to each other, the company was able to rely on a single source of truth in their data. The next step involved creating a visualization layer enabling everyone in the organization to access the right information from the same place. Jen concluded the effort created more trust in the data with less ambiguity.

To view and navigate to all the topics covered by this panel, head to Blog Series Introduction: Data as a Risk and Opportunity.