Information breakthrough

As one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, Japan’s Sankyo has always been acutely aware of the role information plays in the successful development and exploitation of new drug therapies.

The company, which recently merged with rival Japanese firm Daiichi Pharmaceutical to form Daiichi-Sankyo, an entity with annual sales of more than $8.7 billion, historically mined its critical data with little more than spreadsheets and word processors, creating its product development and management reports by laboriously combining data held in various formats across disparate internal and external sources.

“Raw information in its purest form is the fuel of breakthroughs,” says Susunu Haraki, vice-director of Sankyo’s business performance management unit. But the company’s traditional reporting processes were both costly and time-consuming, making requests for new analyses and views of the data difficult to fulfil.

“Without an efficient process, there was a potential for us to miss opportunities, or not provide our executives with an accurate picture of the status of the company,” says Haraki. “We weren’t equipped to help our leaders make better decisions.”

Each time Sankyo needed information from a new data source, for example, a new process would have to be initiated on the server side. Executives would have to switch from one application to another in order to view the multi-format output.

Moreover, reports were static: an important update to a set of test results, for example, would not be visible to executives until the next batch reporting run.

Realising it was failing to identify patterns, spot trends and analyse performance, Sankyo went in search of a tool that could easily generate highly accessible, real-time executive reports from multiple sources – unstructured, semi-structured or structured data.

The product it fixed on –  xfy Enterprise, an XML-based applications development and runtime platform from one of Japan’s largest software companies, JustSystems – has enabled Sankyo to “easily derive operational, analytical, historical and business data from disparate systems and present it in a dynamic way resulting in a powerful end-user experience," says Haraki.

Most importantly, the resulting visual presentation – controlled by the end user and easily customised according to individual information needs – delivers vast amounts of business information in an unlimited number of formats, enabling dynamic decision making and increased business agility, JustSystems maintains.

Sankyo says its managers can now access information online, with real-time connection to the constantly changing data sources. They can also ‘slice and dice’ the results and present the analysis in a completely flexible format – with reports reusable and customisable by other users across the organisation.

“Everyone can now view integrated, real-time insight,” says Haraki.

Given Sankyo has gone from batch-data spreadsheets to real-time, dynamic analytical information delivery, it is hardly surprising to hear Haraki describe the impact of xfy as nothing short of “a revelation.”

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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