We’re in the midst of a data explosion.
Every day, mountains of data points are created through emails, location services, machine data, transactions, surveys, feedback and everything else. The World Economic Forum reports that the scope of all digital data in existence is around 44 zettabytes (that’s 44,000,000,000 terabytes).
Taking advantage of the deepening data pools are companies looking to harness that information to better understand, well, everything: their customers, financials, forecasting, business planning and more. With clearer insights, they can make better decisions and develop better products.
So if that’s the case, mused a small team in New York, why aren’t health and life sciences companies making data better and faster to use? If they did, it would be easier to understand what patients are going through and thus better understand who needs new treatments and therapies.
Since 2008, Jeremy Mittler has worked for Crossix, a healthcare analytics company that leverages healthcare data from more than 300 million patients to help life sciences companies measure and optimize how they spend marketing budgets. As the availability of data has increased and as the tools to manage and analyze large data sets have improved, the demand for data products has also grown.
Yet, he said, there hasn’t been much of a shift from the market to meet that need.
“There’s been a lack of innovation,” Mittler said. “The products available in the market are the same now as they have been for decades.”
Crossix was acquired in late 2019 by Veeva, a tech company with the vision of building the industry cloud for life science companies. With this acquisition, Mittler said Crossix is now better positioned and more focused on bringing about much-needed change to the industry. The plan is to build a suite of products that can solve the data woes the industry has grappled with for years.
“We’re trying to meet the needs of our clients by designing products from the ground up and ignoring what already exists,” Mittler said.
The all-encompassing suite of products, called the Veeva Data Cloud, was described by Senior Director of Product and Data Lindsey Lofgren as the creation of a system designed to handle big data from day one.
“We’re building the data pipeline from scratch,” Lofgren said. “We are in a unique position where we actually already have huge amounts of data, and we have a good idea where we want to go. It’s been fun to design from the ground up, with the vision of building a reliable and stable platform that can process data.”
Mittler and Lofgren spoke with Built In NYC about how they’re planning on building out their team to support the dream of Veeva Data Cloud and why this family of products is essential to Crossix’s goal of providing their customers with the best data possible.
What’s the overall vision for Veeva Data Cloud?
Senior Director of Product Lindsey Lofgren: Veeva Data Cloud is our umbrella of products focused on pharmaceutical and healthcare data. We’re consuming huge amounts of data, and cleaning, transforming, mapping and overall making it simpler to use. We’re building front-end capabilities for customers to consume data in easier ways and supporting the delivery of data directly to their point of use. Our goal is to provide clean, quality data to customers quickly, and give them pre-built attributes to help them get to insights fast.
From the pipeline perspective, we’re trying to figure out how to maintain all these different, complex libraries, manage versions of data, standardize and clean data from a range of suppliers, and then build it all in a scalable way. We want to allow for data science teams, both internally and for our customers, to have their own schemas and get to their insights quickly without having to go do a bunch of data manipulation.
General Manager of Data Solutions Jeremy Mittler: We’re at the very beginning of what we want to do. The Veeva Data Cloud is a collection of products, but it’s also a vision. We’re taking a leadership position in the market for pharmaceutical and life science companies. We want to support the commercial, research and development parts of those businesses and have products globally. We want to support any therapeutic class and any brand. Most importantly, we want to bring innovation, choice and openness to the market.
Small team, big city
How can this technology affect patients?
Lofgren: The industry has been pretty stagnant in how data is leveraged. Healthcare companies are painfully used to getting really messy data and trying to figure out what to do with it. We want to bring them better data that already has baked-in analytics so they can get to their own insights faster.
Our customers can use that data to better understand what the patient journey looks like, in a de-identified way. How long does it take patients to get diagnosed? How long does it take them to get on a treatment? Are there issues with patients dropping off therapy when they really should be staying on? If customers don’t have this clean, quality data, they aren’t able to help patients receive or stay on their therapy. We’re taking that patient data and trying to make it easier to use and more consumable for our customers so they can find, investigate and try to solve issues in a patient’s journey quickly.
How is Veeva’s acquisition helping Crossix take on this project?
Mittler: Crossix has developed deep expertise in healthcare data as well as the Crossix Data Platform, a technology that has become the foundation of what we’re building in the Veeva Data Cloud. It is a modern underlying infrastructure, built to protect patient privacy, that represents the foundational layer of the Veeva Data Cloud. Now we’re doing something different with that foundation with Veeva.
Because the goal is to make data more accessible to customers, how are you incorporating customer feedback into the creation of these products?
Mittler: We’re in the early adopter phase, which is actually a partnership program that’s been successful with other products we’ve launched. We find customers that are super excited about what we’re doing and we partner with them to build the product.
Lofgren: We’re launching new enterprise products every year. By collaborating with customers, like with the early adopter program, we can bring those products to market quickly. We think it’s important to collaborate with customers so that we can understand how they’d actually use our products and how we can add value. Then we can prioritize our roadmap based on how we see the industry and how we think we can help customers.
We’re in our very first delivery for Veeva Data Cloud and already getting great feedback. We’ve already had a really rewarding moment when our customer thanked us for caring and for really listening to what was important to them in a product. It’s been a really exciting time building from the start and even more exciting knowing we can really help our customers.
What’s exciting about working on this technology?
Lofgren: We have a fully dedicated team that includes product management, data operations, data science, development, sales and strategy. Everyone on our pod is 100 percent dedicated to building and launching Veeva Data Cloud. We’ve pulled in a few legacy Veeva and legacy Crossix people, and from there we are hiring and building the team from scratch. This includes hiring A+ players for the development team: front-end, back-end, data engineers, QA and DevOps. We joke that we get to create our own technical debt — we’re not stuck with somebody else’s.
Mittler: Healthcare has become more meaningful for many people because of COVID-19. I’ve talked to candidates that now want to work in healthcare because they’re thinking more about how healthcare companies play a role in helping people. It’s also a chance to build something from the ground-up which has many on the team excited.