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An Industry Shift for Master Data Management at Summit NYC

If you missed it, the premier industry event for master data management (MDM) in NYC took place this week, with attendees from all over the globe. The event was well attended but for many attendees, the information they were seeing was anything but business as usual.

In among the traditional sessions on master data management fundamentals, case studies and master reference data, there was a decidedly different tone to the event. 

Interest was high on graph databases, end-business user trust and access to the information through data-driven applications, and how modern data management platforms were now providing master data management as a core foundation, upon which big data, transactions, analytics and machine learning are fully integrated.

Here are some highlights:

The “Godfather of MDM” Aaron Zornes kicked things off, describing the new strategies and elements at this year’s summit. He highlighted graph databases, temporal and big data particularly as trends.



Neil Cowburn and Robert Quinn of iMiDiA delivered a lunchtime keynote describing how a modern data management platform was used for multi-billion dollar mergers and acquisitions (M&A)

He described how IT teams can now cope with data across hundreds of sources (e.g. over 96 SAP instances!) and increasing volume, variety and velocity, while managing veracity. Modern Data Management techniques were applied in an M&A use case where data collection, tracking of changes & control access were accelerated at minimal cost. And how all capabilities used for pre-merger analysis were available for post-merger competitive advantage. Attendees learned how to:

  • Leverage & enhance Master Data scope – entity overlap & cross-entity relationships
  • Support enrichment to enable the combined business teams to get more value out of the master data
  • Syndicate master data to existing operational applications & analytic platforms – all while supporting a single point of governance
  • Follow a methodology to work with the people and processes needed to co-exist with existing legacy MDM tools, while making the move to a modern data management platform

Vivian Wu of AbbVie presented as part of the Reltio sponsored virtual pharma track. She described how the limitations of a legacy and traditional MDM tool led them to select a modern data management platform. 

AbbVie used an incremental approach to deliver relevant insights while creating reliable data that could be shared company wide. Their modern data management included master data, transaction, social and third-party data delivered through mobile and desktop data-driven business applications that improve the productivity of their frontline business users every day.

Attendees learned how:

  • A cloud-based modern data management platform was selected & how it co-exists with existing systems/applications
  • Data quality can be continuously approved, while seamlessly segmenting & analyzing information
  • To plan to start small & expand to limitless possibilities company-wide 

In a particularly poignant slide she described how companies should insist that their third party data providers provide on demand subscription-based data-as-a-service functionality. She likened the current batch list method of acquiring and loading data as extremely dated and inefficient. 

Data providers used to ask us for a sample list of our data, upon which they would then deliver to us the list back of records either augmented with additional info, or some newer records that meet the same criteria.
If you think about it that’s like me walking into a clothing department store, and the salesperson asking me to show him/her my wardrobe and then telling me that these are the clothes that they have to offer me.
I want the full browse, preview experience and the freedom to see and try all the clothes in the store. I want that same experience with data for my business users.

Michelle Goetz, principal analyst at Forrester delivered a keynote that emphasized that business users need to trust their data. And the best way to provide that trust is to give them access to the data, as quickly as possible. And to accept their feedback and input in a collaborative manner. 

Unlike retroactive reports and analytics, data-driven operational applications are one of the best ways to provide this capability, in conjunction with their daily business activities.

Darius Kemeklis of Google presented a session on graph databases and MDM. 

He described how graph databases offer tremendous potential to model and analyze complex relationships inherent in the real world. He pointed out that many enterprises are increasingly considering graphs as a pre-requisite for their MDM strategy.  He provided a foundational tutorial answering questions such as “Is Graph a Concept or Storage Technology?”

Attendees also learned:

  • From successful industry–wide & industry-specific examples of Graph use cases – Darius showed Reltio’s commercial graph as a prime example
  • Where Graph & MDM intersect
  • Key concepts such as building and visualizing graph schemas 

Overall the event represented an industry shift in traditional MDM philosophy. Attendees were definitely evaluating and considering modern data management techniques, and looking to collaborate with business teams to gain their trust, and get their input into continuous data quality through data-driven applications.

From my perspective it was great to old friends and make new ones. We had fun giving away Big Data Lake Crocs and talking data. See you at the next event!

Accelerating Mergers & Acquisitions in the Medical Device Industry & the Rise of Data Monetization

As part of a very busy month for Reltio, I attended and presented at an event organized by Q1 Productions dedicated to Medical Device Industry Corporate Strategy and M&A in Atlanta, GA. The meeting was very well attended including representatives from Medtronic, Stryker and other companies sharing their insights into techniques for more effective M&A.

The topic of my presentation was:

Accelerating M&A in the Medical Device Industry with Modern Data Management

We discussed how bringing together clean, reliable, relevant data in a timely fashion from the IT systems of both parties to support an M&A is still largely a manual, inefficient and potentially inaccurate effort.

The audience agreed that the complexity of data siloed across both companies made it very difficult to analyze information within the legal and time constraints of all pending transactions. If the merger goes through, all work is generally discarded, leaving the combined company to start from ground zero. If the merger is called off, someone is left with hardware procured to support the M&A that is wasted. 

As part of the presentation I detailed:

  • How a multi-billion dollar merger blended & analyzed data from hundreds of sources with full security & audit controls, without spending a dime on hardware
  • Why they can also now realize millions of dollars in increased negotiating leverage through better vendor/supplier management
  • Which groups are positioned to benefit from new data-driven applications that will significantly improve the efficiency of their day-to-day operations
  • I also provided a modern data management Platform as a Service (PaaS) 101 overview, so attendees could understand the difference between MDM, Big Data, IoT, Analytics, Graph databases and Machine Learning
  • What other opportunities, including data monetization, are now possibilities for the future

Due to a cancellation I also was asked to dive deeper in a separate presentation on the topic of Data Monetization.

Data Monetization, Chief Data Officers, and Industry Clouds

This session provided details on: 

  • What exactly is data monetization
  • Why Data as a Service (DaaS) is a prerequisite
  • How reliable data with full compliance and audit controls are needed as a foundation
  • What are the legal ramifications?
  • Who is responsible for thinking about monetization?
  • What is a chief data officer, and what is his/her role?
  • How does a CDO play well with a CIO?
  • What are industry clouds, and how will that change the landscape of industry specific data applications
  • And even a topic what the future holds for our children’s future career choices: whether to learn how to program or be a data scientist

Finally the next day I moderated a lively “war stores” panel on

Lessons Learned from Recent M&A Activities

Distinguished panelists included

  • Girish Gangadharan, Analyst, Corporate Strategy & Development, ANALOGIC
  • Richard B. Smith, Partner, MCDERMOTT WILL & EMERY

We discussed how over the course of the past 18 months, the medical device industry has experienced some of the highest levels of mergers & acquisition activity recorded to date, and as a result, many executives and organizations have sharpened acquisition skill-sets and have also learned substantial lessons. A lively debate ensued with the panelists and audience around recent experiences, lessons, as well as challenges that lie ahead for the industry as it continues to evolve and grow. The discussion continued throughout the day as attendees identified best practices across the business development spectrum; from identifying appropriate targets to negotiating in order to secure the optimal outcome.

Other key points raised included:

  • Managing expectations for earn outs as part of the deal
  • The difference between acquiring pre-commercial and commercial companies
  • Bringing together sales teams, and managing cost synergies
  • Retaining founders of start-ups and incentives
  • Legal and contractual requirements

Medical Device M&A continues to be hot. A recent infographic by Medical Device Trends shows some of the latest statistics: 
(BTW their site is a wealth of information and you should follow them @mdtrends on twitter) 

Contact me if you’d like to chat about your experiences in life sciences and medical device M&A, or if you’d like a copy of my presentations.

Why Actavis CEO Brenton Saunders is PM360’s Uber ELITE

PM360, a leading health-marketing industry trade magazine announced the winners of its inaugural ELITE awards. The ELITE (Exceptional • Leaders • Innovators • Transformers • Entrepreneurs) represent the most influential people in the healthcare industry today. Sixty winners were selected in 12 categories from numerous entries extolling the merits and achievements of truly extraordinary individuals. 


PM360 also selected one person as “Uber ELITE,” or the individual among the 60 winners who best personifies the criteria of a PM360 ELITE. The very first Uber ELITE award was given to Brenton “Brent” Saunders, CEO of Actavis. At just 44, he has served as the CEO of three major pharma companies and recently transformed Actavis—through the acquisition of Allergan—from a generics manufacturer into a top 10 company.

Saunders and Actavis was also profiled early January in the Forbes article “This Giant Drug Firm Won’t Invent Medicines. Investors Are Cheering” 

He’s also, at just 44, the hottest executive in the global pharmaceutical business and, at least for now, the undisputed deal king of Wall Street

Actavis has been on an acquisition tear since 2010, transforming itself from a generics company called Watson Pharmaceuticals that had annual sales of $2.5 billion to a jugganaut has quintupled sales and delivered shareholders a total return of 545%.

As the furious pace of M&A continues in Life Sciences, companies are realizing that efficiency in data management can make for an even “bigger deal” that the acquisition of customers and assets.

In fact, many acquisitions are now valuing the expertise of salespeople beyond their ability to drive sales of product, describing them as their data-driven advantage.

It’s clear that with the PM360 award, and the attention of Wall Street that Saunders has Actavis firing on all cylinders. Congratulations to all of Actavis’ employees, with the life sciences industry starting to become more data-driven and a focus on the patient, the future is bright indeed.

Congratulations to the 60 named as 2015 PM360 ELITE: 

Uber Elite

  • Brent Saunders, Chief Executive Officer, Actavis

Data Miners

Digital Crusaders

  • Dave Guiga, Director of Partnerships & Innovation, Market Access & Patient Strategies, AstraZeneca
  • Trish Nettleship, Director, Social Media & Influence, UCB, Inc.
  • Nancy Phelan, Head, Customer Engagement Center, Worldwide Customer Operations, Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Michael Russo, Executive Director – Corporate Digital Strategy and Innovation, Acorda Therapeutics, Inc.


  • Michael Coffey, Marketing Manager of Strategy and Innovation, North America, Roche Diabetes Care Inc.
  • Jim Curtis, Chief Strategy Officer & CRO, Remedy Health Media
  • Elizabeth Elfenbein, Partner, Creative, The CementBloc
  • Peter Kirk, CEO, SERMO
  • Ibraheem (Ibs) Mahmood, President and CEO, DrugDev
  • Stan Woodland, CEO, CMI/Compas 


  • Charles Benaiah, Chief Executive Officer, watzan
  • Mark Heinold, Chief Executive Officer, PDR, LLC
  • Jeff Meehan, CEO, Cancer Action Now
  • Robert G. Previdi, CEO, PSKW, LLC
  • Frank Segrave, President and CEO, Silvergate Pharmaceuticals, Inc.     

Launch Experts

  • C. David Green, RPh, Director of Marketing, Prescription Pharmaceuticals, Bausch & Lomb, Inc., A Valeant Pharmaceuticals North America LLC Company
  • Jonathan Kuhn, Sr. Director, Global & Brand Marketing, Acorda Therapeutics, Inc.
  • Andrew J. Watson, Associate Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Wockhardt USA

Leaders of the Future

  • Greg Cohen, Sr. Manager, Social Media & Influence, UCB, Inc.
  • Tom Fussaro, Associate Director, Health Systems Marketing, Astellas Pharma US, Inc.
  • Meredith S. Manning, Vice President, Global Hemophilia A Marketing, Baxter BioScience
  • Michael Nesrallah, CF Brand Director, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
  • Jeenal Shah, Group Art Supervisor, Sudler New York
  • Jeremy T. Shepler, Sr. Director, Diabetes and Obesity Marketing, Novo Nordisk Inc.

Master Educator

  • Paula van de Nes, PhD, Director, Medical Strategy, LLNS


  • Thomas P. McDonnell, Vice President, Product Strategy Lead – Neuroscience Business Unit US, Shire Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • Claire Scott, Sr. Director Thought Leader Services and Commercial Compliance Operations, Genentech
  • Shilpa Shah-Mehta, Senior Director, NET & STS Marketing, Novartis Oncology
  • Gwen D. Washington, Senior Marketing Director, US ADHD Franchise, Shire Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • Deborah Wood, CEO, DWA Healthcare Communications Group and Owner, Avant Healthcare

Patient Advocates

  • Lene Andersen, HealthCentral Community Leader, RA and Disability Advocate, HealthCentral – Remedy Health Media
  • Karen Iannella, Executive Director, External Affairs, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc.
  • Doug Ulman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Pelotonia


  • Matt Barry, Associate Director, Urology Marketing, Astellas Pharma US, Inc.
  • Jay Carter, SVP, Director of Strategy Services, AbelsonTaylor
  • Danielle Dunne, Managing Director, Allidura Consumer, part of inVentiv Health
  • Jesus Leal, VP, Head of Early Development, Strategy and BD&L, Novartis
  • Mario R. Nacinovich Jr., MSc, Managing Partner, AXON
  • Danny Villeneuve, Payer Marketing Lead, Shire

Tech-know Geeks

  • Kendra Fanara, Product Director, Infectious Disease, Janssen Therapeutics
  • Adam Kaplin, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • David Windhausen, Executive Vice President, Intouch Solutions
  • Pasqual Zottola, Executive Director – Information Technology, Acorda Therapeutics, Inc.

Transformational Leaders  

  • Matt Giegerich, Chairman & CEO, Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide
  • Kim Johnson, President, PALIO 
  • Melissa Johnston, President, Benchworks
  • Michelle Keefe, President and CEO, Publicis Touchpoint Solutions, Inc.
  • Meghan Lopresto, Director, Digital Promotion and Multichannel Strategy, Boehringer Ingelheim
  • Anthony J. Maddaluna, Executive Vice President, Pfizer Inc. and President, Pfizer Global Supply
  • David Nakamura, Founder, Natrel
  • Hugh O’Neill, President, Commercial Operations NA, Mallinckrodt
  • Frank X. Powers, President, Dudnyk
  • Scott Shively, Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, Depomed, Inc.
  • Donato Tramuto, Chairman and CEO, Physicians Interactive
  • Timothy P. Walbert, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Horizon Pharma plc
  • Robert Ward, President and CEO, Radius Health, Inc.

How Life Sciences Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) Can Turn Into an Even Bigger Deal

2014 saw the U.S healthcare and life sciences industry Mergers and Acquisitions, (M&A), hit a record of $236.6 billion dollars. According to an EY report, Activis owned the two largest deals out of the top 14 (see table below). 

The first quarter of 2015 saw its share of big deal mergers with the intended purchase by Pfizer Inc. of Hospira Inc for about $15 billion, Canada’s Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. intention to purchase Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd for about $10 billion, and last night’s announcement that beats them all, with AbbVie Inc. intending an acquisition of Pharmacyclics Inc for about $21 billion.

While the main prize of these acquisitions is undoubtedly the drug pipeline and huge potential for future sales, merging together companies of such size and scale, with a myriad of people, processes, data and systems can be a lengthy, costly and challenging endeavor.

First there are pre-merger activities. A major step involves bringing together clean, reliable, relevant data in a timely fashion from the IT systems of both parties into a “clean room” for auditors to assess synergies, overlaps, and to respond to any regulatory objections and hurdles that may need to be overcome.

Surprisingly this complex task is often accomplished through significant manual effort, with little more than the power of the almighty spreadsheet as the tool of choice for M&A reconciliation and analysis. This makes the process resource intensive, rather imprecise and potentially extremely costly.

Furthermore upon completion of a successful merger, any work-performed pre-merger is often discarded. Post-merger integration then has to start anew, leading to further stress on IT and business teams, who should be focusing on deriving value from the combination of the two businesses.

So given the significant risk involved, why aren’t multi-million dollar enterprise-class systems such as traditional master data management (MDM) offerings leveraged in M&A more often? Unfortunately on-premises MDM systems simply can’t be stood up fast enough, cost too much in infrastructure to implement, and aren’t flexible enough to deliver the multi-dimensional, multi-domain analysis that is needed. Moreover, a closer look at each company in a multi-billion dollar merger might reveal that there are in fact already multiple siloed MDM systems, even within the walls of their own organization, deployed in order to fulfill a point-in-time business need, with no opportunity for consolidation.

Fortunately there is a new and better way to bring together critical data from both parties in a secure and controlled environment, in the timeframe needed, and to achieve tremendous cost savings, faster pre-merger analysis, accelerated post-merger integration and something even more valuable.

Cloud-based modern data management, bringing together master data management discipline on a big data foundation utilizing graph technologies, similar to those employed by LinkedIn, Google and Facebook, allows data to be analyzed efficiently regardless of format or source origination. A hybrid of columnar and graph technology provides unlimited flexibility when compared with traditional, relational row-and-column databases. This makes it possible to quickly reveal multi-dimensional relationships and correlations across multi-domain datasets that are crucial to planning and execution of an M&A transaction and beyond.

Granular security and visibility controls allow each company to have its own cloud workspace, while information is easily combined into a “clean room” cloud for auditors to do their work. Prior to this convergence, all the data is cleansed, enhance, deduplicated and linked, as you would expect.

Once the merger is approved, the converged and consolidated data in the cloud forms the foundation for new enterprise data-driven applications, and can also be pushed immediately to operational divisions of the merged company, jump-starting the integration or systems retirement process.  

Such a modern data management platform also provides compliance and governance features through deep auditability: the history of every data change to every attribute in the combined repository can be inspected at any point in time to see how it has grown and evolved over time.

But the jewel in the crown and a by-product of the M&A might well be the accelerated path to enterprise data-driven applications. They can be used to solve business problems in ways not previously achievable with legacy, process-driven applications. Once the combined company is on the path to being data-driven, the possibilities are limitless, with operating efficiencies and new business agility allowing the new entity to reap even bigger rewards than just the physical products and patents they’ve acquired, and the cost savings and efficiencies of a faster pre-merger.

A complex M&A presents an opportunity for a company to transform itself into a data-driven juggernaut, and that may prove to be an even bigger deal.