Choose your buzzword: Big Data, MDM, SaaS or PaaS; the upshot of the just-announced partnership should be that life sciences companies will have an easier time blending their commercial data resources to provide better sales support and better market analytics. IMS Health will now be reselling Reltio’s master data-management (MDM) software, especially to existing customers of its IMS One product, which itself is a platform for combining sales, demographic and related information (which are collectively branded as the IMS Nexxus Commercial Suite) to manage commercial activities. The fact that IMS had built IMS One on a cloud-based platform, as has Reltio, implies that the systems will interoperate easily, and will be able to access both IMS’ vast repositories of prescriber and sales data, as well as third-party data sets.
Reltio has been creating a stir for the past year or so with its cloud-based approach to MDM. Rather than, for example, working from a downloaded file of prescriber information, the “platform as a service” (PaaS) is designed to pull data dynamically from multiple sources, on and offline, and present them in near real-time to the user. Reltio doesn’t even like to be called an MDM vendor; rather, as a sort of data-science-driven answer engine. Another feature of Reltio is machine learning, so that the system can blend data sets nearly automatically, and provide usable results rather than a new data set that needs its own analytical steps.
IMS has been building or acquiring more data resources as well as IT systems; at issue is its ability to stitch all these assets together. Key resources include two products acquired from Cegedim in 2014: OneKey, a global database of prescriber information; and Mobile Intelligence, Cegedim’s salesforce-automation platform. “By combining IMS Health’s deep domain expertise and data assets with Reltio’s cloud-based multitenant technology, we’ll deliver the next generation of master data and information management capabilities to life sciences,” said Robert Chu, SVP, technology solutions, IMS Health. “Reltio represents an important element as we continue to create an ecosystem of best-in-class partners to provide the Big Data technologies and insights companies now need to deploy their commercial strategies faster and smarter.”
It remains to be seen how the alliance will alter existing activities as the life sciences industry grapples with Big Data issues. Reltio has had a partnership with ZS Associates to provide analytics for pharma sales processes, which appears to be in competition with IMS Nexxus. And Veeva, which has been tussling with IMS Health over access to prescriber data (Veeva’s offering is called OpenData, and is designed to be partially sharable among life sciences companies, but IMS doesn’t allow its data to be shared this way). Pharma companies with the wherewithal and determination to set up their own Big Data operations can also contract with Reltio, or Veeva, or someone else, and build their own platform. All that being said, the partnership is a step forward for better analytics for pharma commercial activity.