QuintilesIMS allies with Salesforce for a unified cloud-based technology platform

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - May/June 2017

Software/data offering will unify a ‘molecule to market’ solution for life sciences companies

QuintilesIMS, the dominant force in commercial data for life sciences, as well as a major player in clinical research (through the recent merger of IMS Health and the Quintiles CRO), has struck a five-year agreement with Salesforce to employ the latter’s platform for customer relationship management (CRM) and a growing list of applications and services involving data, business intelligence and communications. The alliance may prove as valuable to Salesforce as it will be for QuintilesIMS, as Salesforce has been building a presence both with healthcare providers (through its Health Cloud) and with life sciences companies, a number of whom are using its Market Cloud platform, among other resources.

“We believe this alliance with Salesforce has transformative potential for the life sciences industry as it will better equip and enable our customers to meet the clinical-to-commercial challenges they face as they move healthcare forward,” said Kevin Knightly, president, Quintiles Information & Technology Solutions, in a statement. Beyond noting that the agreement is global in nature, QuintilesIMS representatives were reluctant to highlight specific examples of the company’s existing IT resources being migrated to the Salesforce platform, saying only that there will be a steady stream of announcements in the near future. But the emphasis is clearly on providing a uniform platform from the clinical research arena (for business objectives such as clinical trial management and patient recruitment) and on into commercial objectives like salesforce automation, real world evidence and the like.

In commercial resources, QuintilesIMS announced the Nexxus Commercial Suite in 2014, unifying a variety of IT resources to complement its goal of enabling life sciences companies to “orchestrate” the interactions with, and information requests of, healthcare providers and other life sciences customers. A complementary offering, IMS One, combines the traditional data services of IMS Health (such as scrip data, customer master data and the like) with third-party data resources, all made available through Amazon Web Services cloud technology. On the clinical-research side, the Quintiles Infosario platform has been available for a number of years to provide a unified approach to managing clinical trial design, execution and monitoring.

Richie Etwaru, chief digital officer at QuintilesIMS, while noting that the alliance will put QuintilesIMS at the leading edge of information technology capabilities, looks ahead to “co-creating” new tools through the applications-development resources of Salesforce. “This will be a source of innovation to really move healthcare forward,” he says.

In the CRM arena, QuintilesIMS has been butting heads with Veeva Systems, whose cloud-based CRM offerings have taken a lion’s share of the life sciences salesforce-automation market, at least in the US. Veeva happens to be built on the same Salesforce platform that QuintilesIMS is now migrating to. Further, just as IMS Health took a big plunge into clinical research by merging with Quintiles, so has Veeva been building out cloud-based resources for clinical research, having just announced an agreement with TransCelerate, a consortium of pharma companies developing streamlined collaboration resources, to use the newly introduced Veeva Vault SiteExchange (see related item). Veeva Vault is a cloud-based platform for storing, sharing and tracking regulated information, and is being used for trial master files, among other applications. Veeva and QuintilesIMS are also facing off in court over an ongoing dispute involving customer master data.

Even so, the two companies are not equal heavyweights battling it out in the ring. Veeva announced a record-breaking FY2017 revenue of $544 million earlier this year, but QuintilesIMS (using merged Quintiles and IMS Health data for the first time) accounted for FY2016 revenue of $7.8 billion. Both companies are riding the wave of newly digitized healthcare data nicely, and now Salesforce (whose revenue in its most recent fiscal year was $8.4 billion) will enjoy a bigger presence in the healthcare world.

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