Our guest today on the Master Data Maestro Series is Alessandra Almeida from SANOFI. Alessandra has over 15 years of experience in Data Management and Data Analytics working in global settings and has always focused on transformation through innovation. She is passionate about promoting a Data Culture in corporations to bring value to businesses. Alessandra is always motivated to connect data to corporate strategic objectives and enjoys most in working with team members and stakeholders at all levels on utilizing data as a true fuel to digital transformation.
Let’s hear what Alessandra has to say about data and MDM.
Thanks for spending your time with us Alessandra. Can you please tell us more about yourself ?
I graduated with a master’s degree in Data Management and Analytics and continued with formal training in leadership and coaching. I have worked in senior positions for various global consulting companies. I previously worked as SANOFI LATAM head for Information Management and Analytics. I am currently a Senior Director at SANOFI within the Enterprise Information Management organisation, focusing on a streamlined implementation of customer MDM for the whole company.
When did you start working on master data management?
As you can see by my mini curriculum, “Data” was always part of my career and recently, in 2018, I was assigned as the Global Head for Customer MDM at Sanofi, starting from ground zero, building the vision and implementing it in a multi-year program roadmap.
You have done a lot of work on digital transformation. It would be lovely to hear about what it involves and how it integrates with your MDM work.
One of the drivers for MDM strategy is to support Customer 360 View. Understanding Customer engagement on multi-channels is key to address customer needs properly. MDM at Sanofi started to provide Customer Golden Profile to MCE Program (Multi Channel Engagement). We had many learning on the road, especially talking about consent and data privacy. We have a lot still to accomplish, but MDM is gradually being recognized in the company as a “One-Stop-Shop” for customer profiles. Customer 360’s aim is to provide a complete view of how a company is working with their customers and MDM has a key role here, providing the right profile to different downstream departments and unlocking the customer data for analytics.
Editor’s note: Thats correct, we are also seeing a changed perception for MDM as the key enabler for Customer 360.
Having said that, consent must be very well managed across the systems, and having a centralized way to collect the consent and distribute it to the different systems will give a clear picture on how this customer wants to be contacted, or not contacted at all. In my opinion, Customer MDM is not the right place to store the consent, but it can provide the right profile to be connected to the consent. Having a consistent Consent strategy, along with a preference management platform, very well aligned with Customer MDM is key to establishing a Customer 360 strategy.
Another perspective of MDM is data privacy. GDPR (or any other privacy regulation) establishes that we should be able to track how data will be stored, anonymized or deleted as per the Customer’s request. I am summarizing and simplifying the concept of regulations, it is much broader than that. To deal with GDPR requests, we must have a consistent data flow, checking customer’s requests since the ingestion (if the data is coming from a 3rd party vendor, IQVIA for instance) and make it flow across different downstream systems through an orchestrated and coordinated process.
MDM will own the role to implement the request on MDM side and trigger the downstream as the following steps, but each and every downstream must be accountable for their internal process of completing customer’s privacy requests.
What are the biggest challenges you foresee in the healthcare industry around data quality and data integration, especially with patient, HCO and HCP data?
I will focus HCO and HCP, as they are my core domains at this moment. We need to establish the right way to collect this data from different sources and have a strong capability to master the data and create a golden profile that will be pushed out to downstream systems. And when we talk about HCP, it is not only the physicians, but all Healthcare professionals, like nurses, pharmacists, dentists…any professional that the company wants to connect with. Same with HCO. It is not only about hospitals or clinics, we are targeting here pharmacy chains, wholesalers, distributors, etc… This rich and robust environment will allow Healthcare organizations to unlock analytics and really achieve Customer 360.
What would you say are the key benefits of an MDM implementation?
A well implemented master data system provides the following
- Improving the consistency and quality of key data domains
- Increasing the accuracy of the answers to important data-driven questions
- Enabling seamless flow of data across the value-chain to address critical needs
You have done a lot of prior work on Sales & Marketing analytics data, quality and information governance. Please tell us more about your challenges and outcomes.
The commercial area is demanding a lot of quality data to produce consistent reports and analytics. We see today that the CRM platform should not be accountable for customer profiles. They will consume the Golden records, coming from MDM and have a bi directional connection with MDM to process any data change request coming from field sales. And other platforms should also come and feed themselves directly from MDM. In that way, analytics on top of DataLakes or DWHs will have a consistent MDM ID coming from different transactional systems and being able to produce consistent analytics results. Having said that, Data Governance is mandatory, to define clear quality rules, measurement controls and people skilled to answer data quality inquiries. For big corporations, the biggest challenge is to balance Global vs Local. It will depend on the ambition that the company has in order to manage the data ecosystem.
Editor’s note: It is an interesting point you brought out. Unless we integrate the MDM with the datalake and datawarehouse, or have datalake native MDM systems, the MDM itself becomes a silo and not that useful.
For Sales & Marketing, on the customer domain side, a full centralized mode will never work (in my opinion 🙂 ). That’s why I am suggesting those 2 options.
1. Decentralized – a data governance at local level can solve the discussion.
2. Hub & Spoke – Some components of the data strategy can be managed centrally, so a Global Data Governance must be in place as well as a good Metadata management strategy and Reference Data Management strategy.
MDM Implementations have a reputation for being extremely expensive and behind schedule. What are your thoughts on this?
MDM implementation can be painful for sure, if we want “boil the ocean”. My recommendation is to start with data that matters and define MVPs (Minimum Value Product). We worked like that and we went live in 5 countries in the first year, 4 more in the second year and evolution on the first 5 ones. By June this year we will add 3 more countries live, meaning delivering globally around 8 millions golden records. This year we moved our program for SAFe Agile Framework methodology, and we run 12 weeks iterations, with 6 sprints of 2 weeks, composed by clear deliverables. In this way, even if having a full picture can take a while, we are adding blocks of MDM to deliver business value. For example, we can start with 2 data sets that represent 80% of the profile and then in the next iteration we can add more data sets in order to enrich this profile.
The agile machine is beautiful as we have different teams working in parallel with different components to be delivered. It is a well-orchestrated machine that works much better than long projects with longer time to deliver results.
Editor’s note: Agile data mastering is being advocated by us and other successful practioners in this series as well. Great to see this as a recurring theme on this interview series.
Regarding costs, it varies. Everything is comparable to business value that a specific feature will bring to justify the investment. Budget is centralized and coordinated by my group and priorities are defined based on a limited capacity, clear prioritization criteria and business value score. A prioritization SterrCo is in place with business to have a common sense on what is better now for the company. For sure we manage a backlog that will be considered and discussed on the next PI (Program Increment).
What advice would you like to give to a customer starting their MDM journey?
Create a Vision (long term) and define your short term objectives.
Find your ambassadors on business and IT side
Select a tool that is easy to adapt and customize
Identify your key partner to deliver the project
Communicate progress and marketing/celebrate all milestones.
What in your view is going to be the impact of COVID on MDM and Healthcare companies?
COVID-19 is bringing a deep rethink about on ways of working in many areas, and it wouldn’t be different on Healthcare. I will emphasize my comments on the Commercial area for Customer Domains, but for sure, other domains are heavily impacted as well. If we look for example at Patient, Vendor, Employee.
For customers, especially sales field force, less and less face to face visits are allowed. In this situation, having a solid master management process that gives the ability to connect the dots between CRM, Medical Systems, Transparency, Events and Finance will help to empower the reps for better digital communication with customers as well as improve assertiveness for digital channels for campaigns or institutional content. Not mentioning the high importance on Product Launch, that will require a big synchronized effort between different teams to achieve the right customer target and get the best result on the launch as possible.
MDM is considered in healthcare companies as a back end solution, but gradually it is taking a protagonist role, especially if we don’t have more the luxury of a full human connection and we more and more need to rely on data to make decisions. The foundation for a good decision making strategy is a strong data management in place, encompassing MDM, Data Governance and Data Quality.
You have a great mix of working on analytics, digital transformation, MDM, Data Quality and Data governance. In your opinion, how does it all tie together?
In my point of view, the glue for all those buzz words (:-)) is “Data itself” . MDM/DG/DQ are foundations to provide a good analytics strategy. We should take a look at one domain holistically and put a strategy in place that comes in 3 layers
1st Layer: Business Information Architecture (BIA) – Here we should work on pure business outcomes and business value. What to expect from the data? What do we want to achieve? What are business questions we need to answer?
2nd Layer: Data Architecture – In this layer, we will define data flows, understand data lifecycle, data maturity model and data readiness (sometimes, very late on the road we find out we don’t have the data. We have something on excel files in someone’s machine and this is very troublesome). Data Architecture must give us the clear view of our roadmap, starting by more mature datasets and defining what to do for the others to achieve the minimum readiness point to be part of the data architecture. In that layer we identify also data governance aspects (not into many details, but main highlights, as well as data privacy and security flags for PII and/or some reserved markets that we need to align data security aspects.
3rd Layer: Technology Architecture – What is the tech stack we will use to deliver. Discuss how technology can streamline ingestion to consumption through modern platforms (cloud services) and APIs. Here is the moment to define the MDM Engine (tool).
Editor’s note: This is a wonderful way to break the problem down!
Please name a few data practitioners whom you admire and would love to hear from in this interview series.
I’ve been following Scott Taylor’s articles. I also had a chance to work in an eyeforpharma event as a speaker, with Jessica Federer in a panel she was leading. I don’t know if she is dedicated to data only, but we had good talks about governance and compliance on data ecosystem for pharma.
Pleasure learning from your experience Alessandra, you have really described the MDM need, planning and execution strategy in detail. Grateful that you shared your thoughts with us during this very busy time.
We wish you the best.
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