Trusting the design process helped Pfizer create a user friendly data catalog

Implementing a data catalog isn’t as easy as it might seem. Different stakeholders require different solutions and it is easy to get lost in technology. 

Trusting the design process helped Pfizer create a user friendly data catalog

Together with us, Pfizer did their homework and went through a design process that helped them think outside the box and create a data catalog that is user friendly and generates value for different users.

Pfizer is one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies and they constantly conduct research to develop new drugs in collaboration with healthcare systems worldwide. Apart from their extensive research and development departments, they also work on gathering information and monitoring the medications. Pfizer is a data-driven company that utilises data in various ways. They employ data in research and also to understand consumer behaviour, and contributing to the development of future healthcare.

Pfizer continuously acquires large amounts of data, and they wanted to enhance their existing data catalog to organise information about all the data better. They wanted to create one hub for all assets helping people to connect and use the data more efficiently. One challenge they faced was the lack of a comprehensive overview, leading to instances where one department purchased datasets already available in another department. To address this issue, they decided to develop a technical solution. They also wanted to understand how to ensure the users who participate in the acquisition process (initiating a need, actually purchasing or using the purchased data) will use the newly developed tool.

When we joined the project, Pfizer already had a technical solution for a data catalog that they wanted to make more user-friendly, and our assignment was to focus on the user and business perspective. What are the needs of those who will actually use the data? It quickly became apparent that their needs varied significantly.

Josefine Nilsson Business Designer, Solita

The design process as the foundation

We initiated the design process by conducting thorough research and examined what had already been done, formulated hypotheses and conducted interviews with the users.

As designers, we know that the best way to solve any problem is to start from the user, what they want to achieve and why. When the focus is right, the result serves the purpose best, while also saving time, money and effort.

Minna Kärhä Business Lead, Data Driven Business , Solita

Nevertheless, a lot of companies ignore the critical element of design – ending up with a data project failing to deliver value and eventually just being a waste of money. In this case, we were impressed with the team at Pfizer who trusted the design process and let us do our thing”, Minna Kärhä continues.

The research work and user interviews resulted in several insights that Pfizer could then utilise to create a data catalog that catered to the diverse needs of all user groups.

“The challenge was to take into account all the different needs. For example, some people own the business case to analyse what data is needed, while others own the budget and make the purchase decisions. Some people work from a technical perspective to make data accessible, while others use the data to conduct research. The design process can help ensure that the data catalog meets the needs of all stakeholders and adds value for all users.” says Josefine Nilsson.

”We often witness companies investing in implementing a tool they had identified they needed in the belief that their organisation’s productivity would increase when people would have faster access to data. The problem is that hardly anyone then uses the tool. People continue to work the way they did before, and still complain about how difficult it is to analyse data and how much time they waste on it”, says Minna Kärhä.

Thinking outside the box

A common misconception is that design is about coming in at the end and “making things pretty,” but that’s not true at all. The design process is about creating maximum value from a technical solution by focusing on the users and the business benefits, starting from the users rather than the technology.

“The most enjoyable aspect of working with Pfizer was that the team was open and willing to see things from a different perspective. They trusted that the design process would lead to something valuable, and it certainly did. The recommendations we provided based on the insights from the design work helped see things from a new perspective” says Josefine Nilsson.

“From our perspective, it was incredibly valuable to receive the insights that Solita delivered in this project. They provided insights on how to make our data catalog more user-friendly and helped us find solutions that we hadn’t thought of before. The Solita team challenged us and encouraged us to think outside the box. That made all the difference,” says Isabelle de la Croix Vaubois, Global Data Planning, Innovation and Acquisition Lead, Pfizer.

The most valuable aspect was being able to leverage the existing solution with improvements and enhancements instead of creating an entirely new solution. That saved both time and money for us.

Isabelle de la Croix Vaubois Global Data Planning, Innovation and Acquisition Lead, Pfizer