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Cegedim Dendrite Acquires SK&A Information Services to Expand Global Database
The purchase allows the life sciences CRM vendor to increase the breadth of its OneKey healthcare data.
Posted Jan 30, 2010
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It's been said that CRM systems are only as good as the data that resides in them — and incorrect data can be more costly to a company than no data at all. Making a play in the data game, life sciences CRM vendor Cegedim Dendrite recently announced an acquisition of SK&A Information Services, a source of healthcare marketing databases and healthcare research solutions. Cegedim Dendrite has its own thorough database solution called OneKey that serves its global customers; however the United States service was only a flavor of the full solution. Integration with SK&A, according to Cegedim executives, will allow the company to expand the database.

According to Bill Buzzeo, Cegedim Dendrite's vice president of compliance and OneKey solutions, the vendor first considered building out the system's capabilities in-house before deciding to pursue a partner solution and purchasing SK&A. Buzzeo says that building a database in line with what SK&A has to offer would have taken a significant amount of time and resources. The acquisition, he says, not only leverages Cegedim Dendrite's own OneKey solution, but matches the company's methodology in retrieving the data. To continually update its healthcare database, SK&A makes phone calls to healthcare facilities and doctor's offices to verify addresses and glean demographic and other business data.

Buzzeo says that Cegedim Dendrite was at the right place to make the purchase, coming out of the recession and finalizing its integration of the solutions united when Europe-based Cegedim acquired U.S.-based Dendrite in May 2007. "It was the time to go look for other areas for investments that serve the core customer base -- our CRM customers," Buzzeo says. 

Dave Escalante, SK&A's president and chief executive officer, will continue to lead the unit under the Cegedim Dendrite umbrella. "Cegedim Dendrite's acquisition of SK&A is a strong example of making [a] strategic acquisition at the right time," Escalante says. 

According to a 2009 audit completed by SK&A, nearly 60 percent of the healthcare contact records it evaluated were inaccurate. Dale Hagemeyer, a Gartner CRM analyst specializing in the pharmaceutical industry, labels as false the notion that contact data can all be found for free on the Internet. Not only are many records nowhere to be found, he says, but those that do exist are often out-of-date. Inaccurate and out-of-date records can break deals for a pharmaceutical marketer seeking to make visits to doctors' offices. "SK&A has provisions for calling and saying, 'We want to establish where your office is,' " Hagemeyer explains. Pinning down office locations may seem like a trivial thing, Hagemeyer admits, but he notes how often doctors move and the problems associated with not being able to locate them. 

Hagemeyer lauds Cegedim Dendrite for making what he calls a smart acquisition. "It's a good fit because the methodology that SK&A uses is similar to [OneKey's] methodology in terms of acquiring data," he says, adding that SK&A brings a level of insight to the table that OneKey didn't have. In addition to location and contact data, Hagemeyer says, SK&A captures the propensity for a pharma salesperson to see a doctor. When SK&A calls a doctor's office, for example, the phone representative will inquire if the office is open to pharma consultation, and, if so, ask for the best time to make a visit. The solution can prove especially valuable for marketers. "If I buy that subscription service, I have insights that no one else has," Hagemeyer says. "It flies in the face of the idea that the Internet will tell you everything." 

Cegedim Dendrite can now offer a truly global database across 80 countries, according to SK&A's Escalante. "What you're seeing is a distinct evolution in CRM," Buzzeo says. Whereas the technology itself was once viewed as the most critical aspect of CRM, Buzzeo says that Cegedim Dendrite now has a commitment to high-quality customer data. " 'Getting the most return on CRM investment' is here to stay," he says.

Hagemeyer says that having a data store consistent with its other global data sets — and prioritizing the development of insights about customers — Cegedim Dendrite is sitting pretty. "[Cegedim Dendrite] bought something very consistent with its strategy," he says. "It got all jewels and no junk."  

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