McKesson UK is a healthcare provider that is working to better understand its data across all of its three business units - community pharmacy, speciality healthcare, pharmaceutical manufacturing - in an attempt to provide better outcomes for customers and its internal organization.
The company is working with Salesforce-owned MuleSoft to connect the dots across all three business units and integrate across a variety of systems and data sources. McKesson UK CIO, Ranjit Gill, says that the use of MuleSoft has allowed the organization to become more agile and not be so tied development in line with its legacy ERP.
Gill explains that McKesson UK has two core priorities when it comes to working with data. Firstly, it needs visibility into its customer base (pharmacies, NHS partner organizations, pharmaceutical manufacturers). McKesson wants to use data to get better at understanding if it is serving its customers well and if customers are getting the products and services they need. Gill says:
So, getting insight into the way that we deliver to our customers, the way that we raise and manage incidents with our customers, the way that our customers provide feedback to us, and really understanding the datasets so that we can tailor what we do to be more responsive - this is a critical factor for us. Ultimately, if we're successful in the way that we engage with our customers, then we're going to be a successful organization.
Second to this objective, McKesson is also focusing on data use internally, where it wants better, real-time insight into business performance, across all business segments. Gill adds:
Are we making the right levels of investment and the right returns on those? How are we performing in terms of the way that we are serving our customers? How are we performing in terms of achieving our goals, on a monthly, quarterly and annual fiscal cycle. Having clear visibility of data so that we can analyse in a timely manner, to measure our performance, as we progress through the fiscal year is also really important to us.
However, despite the opportunities better data use presents, McKesson is all too aware that there are also hurdles and challenges. For example, aggregating and using data for better insights across such diverse lines of business is no small feat.
Gill explains that McKesson's datasets are very non-homogenous and not consistent across the three lines of business, because of various acquisitions and disparate systems. Taking all of that data that is sitting in various silos and rolling it up to view something meaningful is hard. Gill says:
I think that if you look at the journey that we've had with data, it's been a long one. By no means are we completed or finished on that journey and it's a journey that will continue to evolve.
As already noted, McKesson UK is working with MuleSoft, which is an API platform that connects various systems and tools, providing a consistent data layer for organizations. Gill explains that McKesson is on a journey with how it uses MuleSoft, where its approach is becoming more sophisticated. He says:
In the early days, in terms of when we were engaging and using technology stacks like MuleSoft, it was very point to point and it was very much a focused activity for a particular project within a business line.
Now that we've taken a strategic approach with MuleSoft and that has become our technology enablement platform across all of our business lines. What we're able to do is build a much more coherent strategic roadmap of how we can provide interconnectivity across all of our various platforms, allowing us to not only aggregate transactions and information, but also look at the way that we manage our datasets as well.
So looking at the interactions we have with all of our customers - whether it's a pharmacy interaction in Scotland or whether it's a speciality interaction with one of our customers who also goes to our pharmacies in Cornwall, we're able to aggregate that information, allowing us much greater visibility and oversight in terms of overall flavour and mix of the way that we work and interact with our customers.
Breathing new life into legacy
McKesson is using MuleSoft to also become more agile and to not be so restrained by its legacy systems, including its ERP. Gill says that this has allowed the business to more quickly innovate and deliver business outcomes, whilst also focusing on its long term technology roadmap. Gill says:
A major element of the way that we wanted to drive that plan forward was not to be stuck in a very rigid waterfall approach that was all underpinned by a very, very long roadmap that was linked to our ERP platform. What we actually wanted to do was to drive innovation and business value outcomes in a repeatable,ongoing way. Not waiting 18 months or two years to deliver a major change.
Using MuleSoft and using its ability as a platform to allow technologies to interact, allowing us to come up with common data platforms and common datasets, has allowed us to chunk up our roadmap into a much more agile approach, where we can pivot around certain decisions.
We can make a decision to say okay let's focus on a particular business area, then bring that investment forward, go live, deliver a business outcome, build the integration to the legacy, to the back end systems. And then when the new ERP or the new platform comes in the back, we can repoint those API's to the new technology and the old technology, which is allowing us really to operate a much more agile and dynamic approach to the way that we execute transformation and business programmes.
Gill also gave some parting words of advice for other CIOs, where he says that data will no doubt be at the forefront of their mind, trying to figure out what long term roadmaps they need to put in place and how they can take strategic action. He says:
I think a good feedback point would be to have a really clear view about where data makes the most impact in an organization. There's two elements to that. There's the internal view of the data: how do we use data to empower the people within an organisation? And then also the external view: how do you use that data to properly engage with customers?
I think having a real clear focus on which one of those two are the priority will help the organization create a strategy, and be able to execute on delivering against that particular theme. And then obviously choosing the right technology stack is going to be critical, because it's a long term play. It's something that will take time and investment to get it right, but once the platform is there, then the benefits far outweigh the investment that is put into creating these data and insight platforms.