One of the challenges facing Pharma product managers and marketers today is the huge overwhelming wealth of data that is available online. It can be overwhelming and even if you do a Google search for something very specific you may need to wade through many pages of irrelevant information before finding out what you need, if you can even find the needle in the haystack. The information isn't sorted in any useful format for analysis or comparisons.
Image via WikipediaOne very useful tool is to use bookmarking services to see general trends. I like Delicious for this purpose because it's easy to use and has Firefox add-ins that allow you to bookmark or clip articles with a bookmarklet from the browser window in either Windows or a Mac.
Recently, I was interested in general trends relating to several pharma companies. Let's take a quick look at 4 of them, Novartis, Pfizer, Genentech and Amgen. Once signed into Delicious, I can search for information where people have tagged the companies, drugs, pathways etc.
Here's the basic search for Novartis. You can see my bookmarks and those of others as well:
As expected you find stuff on drug development, the Novartis Institute and Foundation, clinical trials, job searches and careers information etc. The tags reflect that too, all benign stuff but interesting none the less.
When looking at Pfizer, however, we get a completely different story! Nothing on jobs and careers but plenty on Nigerians suing the company after some drug development went wrong and Viagra spam from zombie company computers. On the positive side, we see some mentions about Web2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 so we might reasonably conclude that Pfizer is looking to be more active in the social media space than the cautious Swiss. Novartis do at least have a Twitter account, as do other forward thinkig companies such as Boehringer Ingelheim.
On the Biotechnology side, we also see an interesting trend. Company news dominates, but there is also information on cloud computing and online grants applications. The rounded profile suggests the company is active in research and little negative news is topical here.
Amgen, on the other hand, has a fair amount of negativity to contend with – an embattled CEO, an ongoing fight with J&J over EPO, competition from other companies etc. On the plus side, there is the cycling tour of California sponsorship except that cynics might wonder why the manufacturer of EPO is sponsoring a cycling race!
If you wanted to be more granular, you can track the individual tags for each company, total them up and compare/contrast them in more detail to get a deeper picture. The topline analysis tells quite an interesting story though.
You can also search Delicious for novel pathways and find out about what research is being bookmarked. One such example in oncology is to select a kinase, such as PI3 kinase or PLK1 and see what that brings:
I found some interesting articles using that search since I was interested in what drugs were being tested against that particular pathway. A Google search yielded pages of information that was overwhelming but mining Delicious tags found more useful information more quickly. You might be interested in several pathways and what's trending in each, thus searching bookmarks is a quick and simple way to get started.
You can also search by drug name and compare different drugs in the same category or tumour type, for both number of bookmarks and the types of bookmarks. Searching for Herceptin, for example, produces an interesting profile with an emphasis on the data:
If you wished to, you could do the same thing for a competitor, lapatinib, and search for Her-2 to see what other compounds are being tested, ie their competitors… so you get the general drift.
You can use bookmarking services such as Delicious, Mento, Diigo, Connotea, CiteUlike etc to build up a picture of the market you are interested in. That data can then be tracked and tabulated in a spreadsheet if you need more detailed information. The bookmarks can also be clicked on, giving you easy access to information shared about the company, drug, tumour type or pathway that you might be interested in.
Overall, it's a simple and easy way to use web 2.0 and cloud computing tools to perform competitive intelligence gathering from the public domain behind the scenes.