This is the first in a series of posts on what we learned from the KM Life Sciences Summit.

Gretchen2017 Knowledge Management Life Science Summit Part 1-1.jpg Nadasky and I attended the 4rd Annual Life Sciences Knowledge Management Summit ( in Boston in August 2017. This is my third time attending, and Gretchen’s second time.

First of all, many thanks to Keith Davis of Shire and Sebastien Lefebvre of Alexion Pharmaceuticals for co-chairing the conference. From the select group of attendees there was a tremendous amount of knowledge sharing about KM projects, strategies, and ideas specific to the life sciences industry. A key take-away was that analytics is now a major focus from many presenters. Applying analytics to knowledge is a key trend for: finding insights, understanding the value of information/data and highlighting trends and focus areas.

KM Applications

In KM there has always been a bit of a struggle over the concept behaviors and activities as they relate to KM applications. Historically, KM applications have been large document libraries or “portals” with some form of structured search and browse components. User experience continues to advance, as we heard from Novartis (Novartis demonstrated a very cool KM application that will be featured in Part 2 of our blog series), and analytics help guide KM professionals toward better user experience.

However, a fear with the trend towards analytics is the same as with any “KM application.” It is called knowledge management, but is it really KM? Or is it simply a view into data that brings forth insights that are often not acted upon--insights that get lost in a mass of data that is provided?

Leveraging Analytics to Drive KM

As an example of leveraging analytics for User Experience, Sebestien Lefebvre demonstrated the value of analytics in driving KM that comes from measuring specific KPI’s including:

  • Patient forecasting (example was Alexion rare disease focus; hard to find patients)
  • Sales force optimization
  • Inventory management support
  • New business development support
  • Identification of new indications

Other speakers provided a highly technical perspective responding to data explosion and the need to make sense of it all. Theo Platt from Biogen noted that the massive growth of open source tools and integration APIs also impact the use of data/analytics to generate insights. Kim Wilson from Celgene noted that the lack of standardization of terms, ontologies and how data is defined also creates challenges for analyzing data, as that lack of consistency hinders identifying links among the insights gained.

Insights and Knowledge Management

To come to terms with analytics and KM, there still needs to be an emphasis on “what to do” with the knowledge that is derived from data/analytics. KM is traditionally about behaviors, governance of knowledge, and KM processes, such as Knowledge Retention, Knowledge Mapping and enabling Communities of Practice.

Gretchen and I suggest that the emphasis on analytics and a tool or device should be on identifying insights―and acting upon those insights. Those of us in the KM discipline in life sciences always look to focus on what happens to those insights, and the behaviors neccessary to act upon those insights. Perhaps a “life cycle approach” to track and act upon insights could support obtaining greater value from insights, as well as ensuring that insights are captured, structured, measured, and searchable. This makes data more valuable, and insights tremendously more valuable.

Read the case study:  Structuring Unstructured Content for Knowledge Management

Coming soon - 2017 Knowledge Management Life Science Summit, Part 2 where we will discuss other trends and examples of KM in life sciences.


Author.Gretchen.Nadasky.Image.2016-1.pngCo-authored by: Gretchen Nadasky 

Gretchen Nadasky is an Associate Director, Corporate & Enterprise at Paragon. Gretchen develops information management strategies and deploys tactical solutions that deliver high-level business performance. Transforming information processes, leading organizations through change, and building a foundation for sustainable growth, are at the core of Gretchen’s diverse skills set. Gretchen provides leadership, deep subject matter expertise, and strategy development to guide clients through digital transformation and has developed a proprietary method for gaining broad support for new initiatives. Gretchen earned a Masters in Information Science (MSLIS) from Pratt Institute in New York City while working as a corporate archivist, metadata analyst and web-preservation specialist.