Case Study:
Leading pharmaceuticals firm

Reduced “time to insights” by delivering an advanced data platform laboratory for a leading pharmaceuticals firm.

Requirements

The customer, a leading pharmaceuticals firm required an Azure data platform laboratory to enable data scientists to experiment and design new reports before going through a formal approval process and migration to a locked down production data system. Whilst our customer had several highly skilled individuals in data warehousing and analytics, they lacked knowledge and expertise in Azure. The key requirements were:

  • Increase velocity and reduce “time-to-insights” of new analytics requirements through the delivery of a lab environment.
  • Provide access to next-generation advanced analytics tools.
  • Enable elasticity of services and provide burstable compute capacity needed to test unpredictable, experimental scenarios.
  • Simplify patterns of usage, specifically prototyping and scenario analysis for internal data scientists.

Critical success factors:

Improved Deployment

Alignment with the production service to ensure all new functionality could be easily deployed to the production service post testing and approval.

Security Focused

Ensuring security of the platform and data, given the sensitive nature of the core data sets.

Business Drive

Increasing the velocity of new insights to help drive the business forward through the access to new tools and availability of the lab environment to test new ideas.

Our solution

Working with the customer, we implemented a fully integrated and secure data warehouse and analytics solution that used Azure’s compute capability to provide a safe and secure laboratory environment for unpredictable, experimental scenarios. Working closely with business and technology stakeholders, Expert Thinking:

  • Defined the future-state technical reference architecture to meet all the stated goals and requirements for the lab environment.
  • Defined the necessary changes to data governance to ensure the laboratory did not become a way of bypassing existing data governance and controls.
  • Built a proof-of-concept lab environment based on Azure data lake services and PowerBI with integration into Active Directory for security.
  • Generated a simple output based on ingesting data from a defined data source, understanding and resolving any technical integration issues with Alteryx.
  • Provided our recommendations and next steps to build-out the environment into a “production-ready” state.

The benefits

The project successfully delivered the proof of concept and supporting documentation to aggressive timelines, clearly demonstrating the ease with which Azure could be utilised to deliver rapid solutions to test assertions and assumptions.

To address governance concerns, the project brought clarity to data governance and control, which had initially been overlooked by our customer.

Furthermore, a significant emphasis was placed on knowledge transfer, resulting in the upskilling of the internal team. The team gained valuable insights into the services available within Azure and the integration approach employed to establish the laboratory environment.

Highlights:

Time to Insight

Empowered internal data scientists to deliver more value to the business

Governance

Improved ways of working through improved governance process, and operating model

Knowledge Transfer

Upskilled internal team to enable them to take on the future development of the platform.

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