Confessions of a Data Geek

No one can say how it happened, but it has. I looked in the mirror and found myself transformed into a data geek. Perhaps the journey began in my early days as a sales rep, while trying to record simple details about discussions with my customers. Surely it progressed as I grew to lead sales operations, witnessing at close range the perils of poor data. Through the frustration of implementing slick new CRM systems, and then loading them with the same bad data, I developed an obsession with data quality.

The business of customer reference data is an interesting one, as it aggregates hundreds of data sources into a single pipe. Bringing a quality product to market means that we need to control our data quality at the point of creation through a strong governance program. This includes having the best people, the best process, and the best technology to support the program.

Now the proud leader of a global data organization, I embrace my identity as a data geek. Let me reflect on the signposts of my evolution, and explain how you benefit from it.

Signpost #1: Breaking the bonds of legacy

When I initially joined the Veeva OpenData team, we were constrained by legacy technology inherited from an earlier acquisition. There was no ability to monitor data steward performance, QA processes were manual and lacked ownership, and it was a slow, cumbersome effort to get the data to reps in the field. The situation demanded resolution, and I responded by coordinating the move to Veeva Network. Now, with Network master data management as the backbone of Veeva OpenData, we’ve developed a strong quality profile. Data stewardship performance is 50% stronger, while data delivery to the field is 71% faster. In addition, Network’s suite of reports lets us proactively monitor OpenData for quality issues, and quickly resolve them. The upshot? Data quality scores are up by 92%.

Signpost #2: Using better data to streamline CRM implementation

During my first Veeva CRM implementation in 2009, Peter Gassner suggested that I help customers conduct not only software design reviews, but also data reviews. Brilliant! We did, and we identified a significant data issue that might otherwise have caused a long delay. I’ve seen this experience repeated many times. Simply put, bad data is a major cause of IT project delays. And the opposite is true as well. As pharma companies implement new commercial capabilities in CRM, quality data allows for a smooth transition and lower change management costs.

Signpost #3: Connecting the dots with a single ID

Pharma companies want data products that are pre-integrated with each other. Pre-integrated data will result in better analytics as companies achieve a more complete understanding of their own customers. In the case of Veeva, you have OpenData, KOL data, email data, and other, related offerings. We connect the dots with a single, global ID, so customers don’t have to match separate data offerings during an implementation. They can spend less time prepping, and more time analyzing the data for meaningful business insights. Over time, I expect that the commercial pharma analytics teams will become Veeva’s biggest data quality advocates.

Signpost #4: Compliance matters

Pharma is a highly regulated industry. Not only do we have federal and state regulations, but we’re now seeing major cities implementing their own regulations. Veeva OpenData’s compliance data is superior, and our customers depend on Veeva to provide accurate state license, specialty, and DEA data so that they can maintain compliance. OpenData’s rigorous data governance program results in more accurate and timely data for our customers. This is not an area that can be compromised, because of the risks associated with non-compliance.

Signpost #5: Data governance is a team sport

It is true that OpenData and Network reduce the data governance burden for our customers. However, this part is just the MDM governance program. Enterprise customers require a holistic approach, covering all systems and all owners of the data. During an implementation of OpenData, we offer a data governance workshop that maps out the applications and people consuming the data. This makes the ‘data switch’ a proven, repeatable process. Once commercial teams understand how each system uses the data, they can identify any changes required in upstream and downstream business processes, so everything works like it should.

Changing how pharma thinks about data

When I look at Veeva’s growing data portfolio, I get really excited about the possibilities. Veeva is growing and expanding data offerings with OpenData, Email data, KOL data, and more. Because quality determines the value of our offering, Veeva has created a comprehensive, end-to-end program. Understanding the impact of strong data governance practices drives the Veeva OpenData team to continually enhance the data we bring to customers. And, as the industry learns the value of Veeva’s data offerings, we are changing the way pharma thinks about data. We’re raising the bar on the level of data quality that currently exists in the market.

I am excited to be part of that transformation. That’s why I’ve become, and will remain, a data geek.

Learn more on Veeva OpenData.