The cure for Big Data headaches

Pharmaceutical drug discovery can become highly problematic when a company has over a decade worth of test data that needs to be analyzed. How can you expect to visualize 10 years of pharmaceutical test data all at once? Allergan does it everyday.

And it matters. All around the world, whenever people meet up for holidays, festivities, and just gatherings of friends and family they unintentionally bring an uninvited guest. Sicknesses and illnesses do not take holidays and get passed on at higher rates when people get together. It’s the work of pharmaceutical companies like Allergan to work year-round to keep us as safe and healthy as possible.


Allergan is a global specialty pharmaceutical company employing more than 9,000 people worldwide at world-class discovery and development facilities, as well as state-of-the-art manufacturing plants. Even the best pharmaceutical companies need the occasional remedy to overcome that nagging business challenges that won’t go away without help.

The Research Informatics Group at Allergan supports drug discovery through medicinal chemistry, biology, and drug safety evaluation. The scientists in the group predict the potency of a compound, as well as its effectiveness and possible side effects. To perform research and analyses, the scientists need to relate chemical structures to a wide range of test results. It is very difficult to analyze this large amount of data without a graphical visualization technique.

Not an Excel task

Allergan knew that using a tool such as Excel was the wrong medicine. Spreadsheets would only allow analysis of a few weeks worth of data and wouldn’t give that data context that uncovers key insights. The challenge was to perform analysis so quickly that experimentation cycles could happen more rapidly and conclusions reached in the shortest time frame possible. Just as the company needs scientists and employees in top health, Allergan needed reliable analytic software and chose the leading visual analytics tool, Spotfire.

Spotfire provides a highly visual and interactive environment for receiving real-time information while concurrently allowing Allergan to compare 10 years of analysis. Allergan is able to bring together the right data in a large, multivariate data set and make sense of it all on the fly. This isn’t hype…this is their cure for a big data headache.

This article first appeared on The TIBCO Blog and has been lightly edited.

Tags: , ,

Categories: Data Analytics / Big Data, Healthcare

Author:Kevin Jordan

Kevin graduated from Stanford in three years and is a contributing writer for The TIBCO Blog. Graduating from a engineering-focused university, Kevin quickly developed a passion for technology and its role in business. Still continuing some of his other creative ventures as well, he enjoys doing stand-up comedy and professional acting. Appearing on the Disney Channel and performing on stages from Las Vegas to the Bahamas inspires him to continue entertaining through written word, on comedy club stages, and on television screens. Bridging his creative ambitions and technical curiosity creates the balance he strives for.

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