REVIEWER: Glenn Wong, director of Operations, Trinity Pharma Solutions, LLC.
BACKGROUND: Trinity Pharma Solutions, LLC supports the commercial operations of pharmaceutical and emerging biotech companies with technology-based solutions and analytic services. With extensive knowledge of specialty and primary-care pharmaceutical markets, Trinity's data management offerings provide clients with accurate, timely and actionable sales performance insights.
PLATFORMS: Microsoft Windows XP/Server; client software on Dell Latitude laptops.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Pharmaceutical companies are inundated with sales and marketing data. Accurate and insightful analysis of this data can give companies the competitive advantage needed for a successful product launch and/or continued growth. A leading pharmaceutical company wanted to conduct an integrated review of the physicians targeted by their sales force utilizing data from their customer relationship management (CRM) system, sales databases and market research. Many different scenarios and analyses had to be conducted in rapid succession and then communicated back to key stakeholders (e.g., national sales director) in an easy-to-understand format. Trinity's tool of choice for this project was Spotfire DXP. Given its flexibility and user-friendly format, we preferred to use the tool live, in favor of a PowerPoint presentation, to facilitate a recent project review with the client.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Spotfire DXP provides an interactive, visual solution for conducting in-depth analyses in complex data. The application provides standard ETL-like data import functionality, a variety of visualizations (a.k.a. charts) to "see" the data and user-friendly exports (PowerPoint, Excel) for sharing the results. Spotfire DXP utilizes a concept of "dynamic queries," whereby data can be filtered, sorted and recalculated on the fly using an intuitive, visual, point-click-drag interface. Furthermore, Spotfire DXP offers fantastic charting flexibility: one can easily change plotting metrics (A versus B, B versus A or A versus C), group metrics in a hierarchy (A and B versus C) and, most importantly, expand on the number of variables used in the chart (A versus B, repeated for unique values of C and D). Finally, drilling down into data subsets is trivial, and tags allow users to group the subsets on the fly for additional analyses. Spotfire DXP runs as a client-side application, with a dedicated server to manage user privileges, upgrades and collaborative analyses via "libraries."
STRENGTHS: Spotfire DXP is both easy to use and extremely powerful: it takes very little time to learn how to use and navigate the tool, and it provides analytic insights extremely quickly. It especially shines with multivariable data, allowing one to test many hypotheses in rapid succession and display relationships among five or more attributes simultaneously (e.g., A versus B, colored by C, sized by D, shaped by E, grouped by F).
WEAKNESSES: Spotfire DXP will use as much memory as it needs - with hard disk page swaps, if necessary. When page swapping occurs, system-wide performance is affected. We have experienced such performance issues when working with large data sets, but a simple memory upgrade addressed most occurrences. Furthermore, prefiltering/preaggregation of data prior to import is helpful, both to focus the analysis and prevent performance slowdowns.
SELECTION CRITERIA: For our analytic needs, we know of no other company that offers a comparable tool with such simplicity and flexibility. Spotfire DXP offers similar functionality and ease of use as Spotfire's DecisionSite software, but was created with sales and marketing analyses in mind. DecisionSite, on the other hand, is focused on life sciences R&D analyses (e.g., genomics research).
DELIVERABLES: Spotfire DXP allows us to export data in multiple formats depending on the client needs. For example, we have delivered lists of physicians (in Excel) extracted directly from Spotfire analyses. Similarly, visualizations are easily exported to PowerPoint. For clients that have Spotfire DXP themselves, we have provided .dxp files for self-guided analyses.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Spotfire provides excellent support, giving us contact with the product manager and senior developers as needed. Also, Spotfire continues to improve the product and is due to release version 1.1 soon.
DOCUMENTATION: Spotfire may indeed provide manuals, but we have not seen them; a quick on-site training was enough to get us up and running, and practically all the functionality is discoverable. Online help documentation is a bit lean, but sufficient.
212 Elm Street
Somerville, MA 02144
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