Information management is certainly a strategic core competency every organization should develop. Information assets, like financial, physical, and human ones, are central to “what organizations do”: Managing them properly leads not only to increased revenue, decreased costs, and increased margins, but also reduces legal and operational risk – while managing them poorly leads to the reverse of all these.
Given the strategic importance of information management, why do so few organizations do it well (and so many organizations do it poorly)? Part of the problem is that, unlike financial, physical, and human assets, information assets are far less tangible. We all know we can’t leave bags of money or computer monitors lying around unmanaged without significant consequences; but when thinking about the consequences of unmanaged information, we’re often hard pressed to articulate them.
One of the best ways I’ve found to help articulate the consequences of managing information poorly is to highlight the link between information management and the value chain activities of an organization. Most leaders understand their value chain; that’s how they make money, after all. So if you can show how information management practices impact their value chain, you’ve got a good shot at getting them to understand its importance to the organization.
For the sake of illustration here, let’s use the value chain activities we’d expect to find at a full-service pharma firm, and explore how information management impacts it.
Pharma Value Chain
There are lots of ways to express the pharma value chain, but I typically do so with the activities in Figure 1, which are an adaptation from John Campbell’s Understanding Pharma.
Figure 1 – Full-service Pharma Value Chain Activities
One of the most important things to keep in mind about value chains in general is that they essentially describe the steps in the product development lifecycle, because in one way or another, organizations make money by selling products. And to some extent, all product development efforts involve research and development (R&D) on products that will never see the light of day—trial and error is part and parcel of innovation, and many more ideas are generated and tested than ever make it to become products in the marketplace. But for pharmas, this product ideation funnel is very steep. The ratio of ideas to final products can be, depending on the size of the organization, from hundreds, to hundreds of thousands, to one.
The Importance of Information Management
The enormity of the idea to product ratio (as well as the extreme cost in time and dollars to move ideas through the product development lifecycle) changes the way that information management adds value to pharmas; i.e. information has its highest value to a pharma when it’s associated with a product that can be brought to market, rather than with an untested idea that may or may not be saleable.
Because so few ideas actually make it to the end of the product development funnel, pharmas need to make the most of the ones that do—from getting primary regulatory approval as quickly as possible, to finding viable isomers for existing products to extend their patent protection.
Here’s a closer look at some activities in the pharma value chain where I’ve seen information management deliver significant results:
The Final Word
Although we’ve just scratched the surface of information management for pharma, hopefully I’ve given you a feel for how a value chain perspective helps articulate the importance of information management better than generic statements about improved findability or more effective collaboration would. Feel free to jump in and share your own perspective on how information management impacts the pharma value chain—or in other industries, for that matter. Let’s get the conversation started!