IMS Health gobbles up SaaS firm Appature

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Healthcare data and analytics giant IMS Health has acquired Seattle-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) company Appature, the firms are expected to announce today.

The deal, terms of which were not disclosed, expands IMS Health's capabilities in the commercial services area. Appature's platform, called Nexus, enables pharma companies to measure the return on relationship-marketing programs, with real-time reports and dashboards available through the cloud.

The firm will be fully owned by IMS Health but will keep its name and organizational structure.

“It's a natural fit, and the timing is right with the emergence of cloud technology and the willingness of our clients to adopt SaaS models,” said Barry Crowther VP, commercial effectiveness services, IMS Health. “Our clients are looking for a different way of getting information delivered to them.”

Kabir Shahani, Appature co-founder and CEO, will report to Seyed Mortazavi, president, US, IMS. Having the two organizations come together “will be a huge boon to all our customers and partners,” said Shahani.  

Clients will be able to plug into the Appature Nexus platform for access to both firms' services—healthcare information, analytics and managed services from IMS, with customer data integration, campaign management and marketing analytics from Appature.

“We're living in an environment where there are different expectations for medicines and for what a pharma or medical device company can deliver,” said Shahani. “When you bring together a platform like Appature Nexus in SaaS with the domain expertise and deep capability IMS brings, we can help customers react to that in a more real-time fashion.”

Known primarily for its performance metrics and consulting business, IMS Health actually does quite a bit of ROI measurement for drug makers and ad agencies, but it's been done mostly on an episodic basis, said Crowther,

“The [Appature] technology really allows us to deliver a lot of the services we [offer] today…in a more recurring fashion,” he said. That includes measuring campaign effectiveness throughout, rather than at the end of, a campaign.

By giving clients direct access to insights 24/7, IMS Health hopes the purchase gives it a leg up in the marketing and performance-management space. “We're seeing a shift in the industry,” Crowther said, from a push, sales-driven approach to more of a marketing-driven approach in which clients—spurred by reps' declining access to doctors, cost pressures and multiple marketing channels—“are looking for insights and trying to develop their marketing programs to be more insight-driven.”

Helping determine ways, other than the sales channel, to reach physicians “has been Appature's core business for a while,” said Shahani, “and with the information assets we have…we can help our clients best reach HCPs and patients, and measure and optimize what's working and what's not.”

While Appature is IMS Health's latest offering in the SaaS area, it's been building its underlying marketing technology for some time. IMS One, the company's own commercial platform, brings IMS and third-party data together for commercial planning, execution, and analytical activities. “We're making substantial investments in cloud technology and SaaS models, and we see Appature…as foundational for our marketing suite of apps,” said Crowther.

Both parties said the purchase reflects the growing importance of these services for the life sciences industry. “The days of on-premise technology are dead,” said Shahani. “It's highly inefficient, extremely expensive and it doesn't allow for what customers are demanding,” which is precision and the agility to make marketing changes more quickly. “SaaS as a delivery mechanism for technology…is the only one that can meet those demands and help our customers keep pace.”

IMS Health, which operates in 100 countries, will look to match the technology with clients everywhere. “My remit is global,” Crowther said, “so we'll be looking to apply this technology throughout the world. The whole concept of multichannel marketing is an area that's of interest to a lot of different markets.”

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