Discovering new medical therapies and drugs is a complex and time-consuming process. High-performance computing and interactive data analytics can make a substantial difference and  accelerate discovery and time-to-market.

UCB  is a multinational biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Brussels. UCB focuses primarily on research and development, specifically involving medications centered on epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and Crohn’s disease. The company’s efforts are focused on treatments for severe diseases treated by specialists, particularly in the fields of central nervous system disorders (including epilepsy), inflammatory disorders (including allergy) and oncology.


The company’s data backbone built on Oracle database technology was struggling to meet the new data platform’s performance demands. Next to performance scalelability was also a point of attention as future data volumes would make the current system unstable.
UCB wanted to build a data platform for early stage drug discovery enabling scientists to quickly access research data via self-service and as a result accelerate the early discovery process. Its goals included:
  • Decreasing the time scientists spend waiting for data. Previously, scientists had to wait for days or weeks for the data to be made available for analysis by IT.
  • Helping scientists reach answers faster. A faster and easier-to-use system would allow scientists to test hypotheses quickly.
  • A user-friendly self-service interface. Scientists would be able to use this system without needing assistance from IT. They could easily pick and choose the right data for their experiments, prepared in the way that makes the most sense for the success of the experiment.


30X Speed improvements enabling real-time dashboards 
48X batch data refresh ops improvement 


The new data platform needed to deliver faster query performance, while being able to easily scale to handle the large, complex queries scientists used to gather research data. The new solution had to accommodate massive data sets and growth so the company wouldn’t need to transition to another database in the future. 

More importantly, UCB’s new early stage discovery data platform needed to be built around the FAIR principle: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable. The chosen database technology would need to fit this approach and easily connect with the rest of UCB’s data stack. 

Platform choice

Up to 800 scientists worldwide rely on UCB’s data platform every day to power their essential research. “We chose SingleStore because it offered a modern database that can accelerate time to insight with ultra-fast ingestion, super-low latency, high-performance queries, and high concurrency,” said Frédéric Vanclef, Senior IT Expert, UCB. SingleStore offers parallel, high-scale streaming data ingest that can handle trillions of events per second for immediate availability and concurrency for tens of thousands of users, which supports UCB’s current needs and positions it for future growth.


With SingleStore, UCB is now giving scientists what they need in real time to get the answers they need faster to drive their research:

  • Empowering scientists with a high-performance self-service solution 
    UCB scientists can now collect and prepare their data themselves, getting exactly what they need for their experiments. The SingleStore-powered data backbone gathers all of the research and referential data into a single source of truth, allowing users to select from a wide range of high-quality data. Now, scientists can ask more questions during early stage drug discovery. “Thanks to SingleStore, we can do more and do it faster, which is invaluable to our research,” said Vanclef.
  • Elevating the role of IT from tactical to highly strategic 
    UCB has a dedicated IT support team to assist its scientists. Before the rollout of the early stage discovery data platform, this team was responsible for handling data requests from scientists. Unfortunately, this scenario meant scientists experienced long delays between when they asked for the data and actually received it. With the new self-service solution, the IT team was able to transform its mission and actions from tactical to highly strategic.
  • Accelerating drug discovery
    UCB’s new data backbone has massive improvements in query speed and latency. Instead of being forced to wait up to 20 minutes for query results, scientists now have access to real-time data and query results in 20 seconds, reducing query latency by more than 30X. They can check on available data sets in real time, eliminating delays between data publication and availability in the data mart. The platform’s batch data refresh operation run times dropped by 48X: from 4 hours to 5 minutes(!).
  • Providing scientists with analytical flexibility
    Each data type has its own optimal analytics approach, requiring different tools to handle the wide range of information that UCB scientists work with. SingleStore supports multiple popular analytics solutions so that scientists can work with their preferred applications for a particular experiment.

Source: SingleStore UCB casestory. Full document can be downloaded here.

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Customer & household profiling, personalization, journey analysis, segmentation, funnel analytics, acquisition & conversion metrics, predictive analytics & forecasting, …  The marketing goal to deliver a trustworthy and complete insight in the customer across different channels can be quiet difficult to accomplish.

A substantial amount of marketing departments have chosen to rely on a mix of platforms going from CEM/CXM, CDP, CRM, eCommerce, Customer Service, Contact Center, Marketing Automation to Marketing Analytics. A lot of these platforms are best of breed and come from a diverse number of vendors who are leader in their specific market segment. Internal custom build solutions (Microsoft Excel, homebrew data environments, …) always complete this type of setup.

78% According to a Forrester study, although 78% of marketers claim that a data-driven marketing strategy is crucial, as many as 70% of them admit they have poor quality and inconsistent data.

The challenges

Creating a 360° customer view across this diverse landscape is not a walk in the park. All of these marketing platforms do provide added value but are basically separate silos. All of these environments use different data and the data that they have in common, is typically used in a different way. If you need to join all these pieces together, you need some magical super glue.  Reality is that none of the marketing platform vendors actually have this in house.

Another point of attention is your data scope. We don’t need to explain you that customer experience is the hot thing in marketing nowadays. However marketeers need to do much more than just analyze customer experience data in order to create real customer insight.

Creating insight also requires that the data that you analyze goes beyond the traditional customer data domain. Combining customer data with i.e. the proper product/service, supplier, financial, … data is rather fundamental for this type of exercises. This type of extended data domains is usually lacking or the required detail level is not present in one particular platform.

38% Recent research from  KPMG and Forrester Consulting shows that 38% of marketers claimed they have a high level of confidence in their data and analytics that drives their customer insights. That’s said, only a third of them seem to trust the analytics they generate from their business operations.

The foundations

Regardless of the mix of marketing platforms, many marketing leaders don’t succeed in taking full advantage of all their data. As a logical result they also fail to make a real impact with their data driven marketing initiatives. The underlying reason for this issue is that many marketing organizations lack a number of crucial data management building blocks that allow them to break out of these typical martech silos. The most important data capabilities that you should take into account are:




Master Data Management (aka MDM)

Creating a single view or so called golden record is the essence of Master Data Management. This allows you to make sure that a customer, product, etc is consistent across different applications.


Business Glossary

Having the correct terms & definitions might seem trivial but reality is that in the majority of the organizations noise on the line is reality. However having crystal clear terms and definitions is a basic requirement to have all stakeholders manage the data in the same way and prevent conflicts and waste down the data supply chain.


Data Catalog

Imagine Google-like functionality to search through your data assets. Find out what data you have, what’s the origin, how and where it is being used.


Data Quality

The why of proper data quality is obvious for any data consuming organization. If you have disconnected data landscape, data quality is even more important because it also facilitates the automatic match & merge glue exercise that you put in place to come to a common view on your data assets.


Data Virtualization

Getting real-time access to your data in an ad hoc and dynamic way is one of the missing pieces to get to your 360° view in time and budget. Forgot about traditional consumer headaches such as long waiting times, misunderstood requests, lack of agility, etc.



We intentionally use the term capability because this isn’t a IT story. All of these capabilities have a people, process and technology aspect and all of them should be driven by the business stakeholders. IT and technology is facilitating.

The results

If you manage to put in place the described data management capabilities you basically get in control. Your organization can find, understand and make data useful. You improve the efficiency of your people and processes, and reduce your data compliance risks. The benefits in a nutshell:

  1. Get full visibility of your data landscape by making data available and easily accessible across your organization. Deliver trusted data with documented definitions and certified data assets, so users feel confident using the data. Take back control using an approach that delivers everything you need to ensure data is accurate, consistent, complete and discoverable.
  2. Increase efficiency of your people and processes. Improve data transparency by establishing one enterprise-wide repository of assets, so every user can easily understand and discover data relevant to them. Increase efficiency using workflows to automate processes, helping improve collaboration and speed of task completion. Quickly understand your data’s history with automated business and technical lineage that help you clearly see how data transforms and flows from system to system and source to report.
  3. Reduce data and compliance risks. Mitigate compliance risk setting up data policies to control data retention and usage that can be applied across the organization, helping you meet your data compliance requirements. Reduce data risk by building and maintaining a business glossary of approved terms and definitions, helping ensure clarity and consistency of data assets for all users.

42% of data-driven marketers say their current technology in place is out of date and insufficient to help them do their jobs. Walker Sands Communications State of Marketing Technology report.


The data you need to be successful with your marketing efforts is there. You just have to transform it into useable data so that you can get accurate insights to make better decisions. The key in all of this is getting rid of your marketing platform silos by making sure that you have the proper data foundations in place. The data foundations to speed up and extend the capabilities of your datadriven marketing initiatives.

Need help unlocking your marketing data?

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