ZS Case Study: Analytics and Insights With Real Impact

Business Issue

Staggering potential and real hurdles

The potential in the oncology market is staggering: Industry observers estimate that oncology drugs will soon exceed $100 billion in annual sales. But that potential means more competition—there were 19 oncology drug launches in 2013 followed by eight in 2014, while hundreds of unique products are in development.

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Sales and marketing for these drugs is a complex undertaking, as understanding customer preferences and decision making in prescribing oncology drugs is far more difficult than in other therapy areas.

To overcome this complexity in sales and marketing, predictive analytics has become essential. However, data issues like imperfect affiliations, partial and limited data capture and unclear indications comprise major hurdles in building an analytics solution that delivers insights. What’s more, ZS research shows more than 75% of firms find it difficult to develop effective sales and marketing processes in oncology—meaning companies that can develop insight via analytics will have a decided competitive advantage.

The Problem

Analytics for a new product

A pharma company introducing its first cancer drug faced an issue typical for an oncology launch: limited insight into market dynamics and understanding of customer decision making.

The company needed sophisticated analytics to view physician and account uptake, customer preferences and other competitive intelligence.

Building these capabilities was not simple. Multiple stakeholders are involved in oncology treatments, requiring better understanding of stakeholder interactions and processes that require data from multiple sources. Although the product had great promise, it faced competition that would be introduced earlier, and delays limited the time for launch prep.

In addition, the company needed post-launch analytics to assess commercial effectiveness—this required a long-term, holistic solution encompassing enterprise-level capabilities, technology, software and governance.

“We had different systems for different things,” according to a company director. “For each therapeutic area, there was one place for sales data, one place for marketing, and you had to stitch that together for insight.”

The Solution

A cloud-based analytics platform

ZS and the company created a cloud-based data management and analytics solution to support information needs for its oncology franchise.

Because of the limited window in which to deliver the solution, ZS and the company experimented with unorthodox approaches to answer business questions quickly and roll out a technology platform in a matter of weeks.

Ultimately, the solution included:

  • A cloud-based data warehouse that integrated 15 data sources refreshed daily, weekly or monthly
  • A MicroStrategy-based platform providing analytics for all commercial stakeholders
  • Integration of the analytics platform with downstream systems supporting real-time data exchange, ensuring a single version of the truth
  • Sophisticated mobile apps to support reps’ daily activities
  • An on-demand, self-service analytics platform for company headquarters and dashboards for executive leadership


Pre- and post-launch impact

ZS delivered the analytics in time to prepare for the competitor’s launch, helping the company identify sales targets, understand customer preferences and market dynamics.

For the company’s own product introduction, ZS delivered perhaps a bigger impact:

  • The company had “day one visibility into launch trajectory” and the ability to correct deficiencies as they arise
  • Real market insights into performance on products, customers and channel partners
  • Near universal adaptation of the solution with the field force and headquarters analysts
  • Enterprise-level capability build and deployment leveraging to help reduce costs and time, and deploy next-generation technology platforms

Because of its industry expertise, tech and business acumen, and assets and accelerators in the MicroStrategy platform, ZS was uniquely positioned to deliver a fully integrated solution, according to the director.

“ZS understood the business, our culture, and could navigate our internal processes,” he says. “ZS has a genuine passion for what they do. They were a true partner—they were just as excited as us to get this solution out the door.”