Biogen: Turning Customer Reference Data Into a Strategic Asset

Steve Davenport, associate director of commercial data strategy at Biogen, views customer reference data as a critical and strategic asset that helps Biogen prepare, execute, and succeed in their go-to-market strategies for new therapies. “I’ve been on a mission lately about communicating the importance of data and technology coming together to create solutions for customers. You can have the world’s greatest data strategy, but if you don’t have a way to maintain it and deliver it to your customer, it’s really not viable.”

Proprietary vs. Cloud-Sourced Data

Getting the organization to see data as a strategic asset required some effort to enact structural change. Davenport explained how there is often a perception that customer data should be proprietary, a source of competitive advantage, and that participating in a cloud environment wouldn’t be advantageous because the data is available to everyone. However, with the goal of achieving a “golden record” for HCPs, where the organization has the best and most accurate information at their fingertips and in every system they use, a partner like Veeva can be very helpful. “When you have a third-party, like Veeva, acting as a neutral entity, it can resolve or ameliorate any type of conflict that there might be within the organization.” Because they all know that Veeva “isn’t taking sides,” it can allow the organization to trust the integrity of the underlying core data. Davenport continues, “Start with good quality data to get the ball rolling, and then integrate it seamlessly into your CRM [and other tools]. Data management, data stewardship, and data change request (DCR) processes sit on top of that.”

Another aspect of strategic data is understanding the relationships that exist between HCPs and the organizations that connect them. “There’s a kind of value pyramid with reference data. At the bottom is this base foundation where you can see the organizational entities and understand their core attributes. We were able to show the business that as we move up the pyramid, adding things like affiliations, incorporating field insights, curating this information for our markets – that’s really where the proprietary advantage comes from.”

Data Unlocks Growth

As Biogen continues to grow, customer reference data also plays a role in helping the sales organization learn and pivot when new therapies require new go-to-market strategies. “Reference data is becoming increasingly important to Biogen, especially as we grow and emerge into new markets such as Alzheimer’s,” says Davenport. He elaborates, “Biogen, historically, has been focused on the MS (multiple sclerosis) market, which is an HCP-driven market. However, as we move more into the rare disease category and the very large market of Alzheimer’s, account-based reference data is becoming increasingly important. We’re changing our paradigm to look at the data top-down, starting with the integrated delivery networks (IDNs), down to the hospitals, and then to the individuals.”

“You can have the world’s greatest data strategy, but if you don’t have a way to maintain it and deliver it to your customer, it’s really not viable”

Access to Veeva OpenData through technology, like Veeva Network, plays an important role for Biogen’s success with customer reference data. Davenport remarks, “I think the combination of both the data and the tech together has been one of the key elements that drives value for us.” He also talks about the need to invest in a scalable solution. “We’re emerging into new markets, which has Alzheimer’s and also biosimilars. We’re opening up new HCPs and accounts that we’ve never worked with before. And we want to rapidly prepare our go-to-market strategies. Veeva OpenData allows us to identify those customers, bring them in, and incorporate them into our universe. Then we can start spending our time on the higher value-adding activities like preparing for the launch.”

Investing for the Future

Interoperability with other key applications for the business is just as critical as accurate customer data. “Having your data at the core and to be able to extend it into different applications in a seamless manner can allow you to move more efficiently, whether you’re a small organization or a large organization. I’d say that is certainly something that we’d [recommend organizations] look at as well.”

What does Davenport have to say to companies that are hesitant to utilize new technologies, especially technologies that are delivered through the cloud? Davenport relates migrating to the cloud with the past challenges of maintaining onsite data centers. “I challenge any CIO right now to say moving his cage to the cloud was a bad idea and that somehow put them out of a job. I think that [moving to the cloud] is just the natural evolution.”

Learn more strategies for better customer reference data here.

2020 OpenData Survey Report

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