Entrepreneur of the month
Iris Interactive Corporation: Boosting Collaboration and Decision Making Processes to Bring Products Faster to Market
“ At Iris, we are committed to fostering innovation in organizations by helping companies bring new products and services to market with speed, efficiency and quality ”
When you are committed to a big goal, the entire universe aligns in helping you to achieve it,” is what made Janaki Joshi, CEO of Iris Interactive, firmly believe in an innovative idea and build it into a successful entrepreneurial venture. The root of her idea traces back to early 90’s, when technology barely had any role in the administrative functions. Managers were hardly using personal computers and the concept of email was close to an alienated retribution for companies across industries. Janaki noticed its major impacts during her career at Boots Pharmaceuticals as an accountant: product launch dates were constantly changing as companies failed to track revenue predictions and milestones in a consistent manner, which incidentally affected financial growth.
While there were successful Enterprise Resource Planning systems for managing supply chain and Customer Relationship Management systems for customers, there wasn’t a strong system for handling innovation and commercialization processes of new products. “I knew it would be difficult and risky, and the most crucial entrepreneurial decision I made was to fund the enterprise and bet everything in developing the Iris platform to help in this area,” says Janaki. Pennsylvania and New York-based Iris Interactive was conceptualized on a vision to create a comprehensive software platform that helps companies transform new ideas into successful brands at a faster pace.
The Funding Nightmare
Janaki’s highly qualified Chartered Accountant certifications from three different countries did not stop her from changing her finance career by venturing into the unknown territories of the emerging technological market of the consumer and life sciences industry. With reassuring support and mentorship from her husband, Jayant Joshi, the CTO of Iris Interactive, the couple set out to boost their company in 1998 to greater heights. But with Y2K just around the corner and the collapse of the dot com bubble, Janaki’s main hurdle lay in funding the growth of the company. “With investors changing terms in the last minute, we decided to self-fund the company, literally running the monthly payrolls by fishing out every penny from our private mortgage, bonds and shares,” says Janaki. However, Iris’s ray of hope was redirected by an investment of $3 million in funding in 2001. Since then the company has grown and expanded to three continents.
A Platform for Commercialization
Iris Interactive’s key focus is to deliver a fast and secure collaboration platform, enabling ease of access and information sharing, both internally and externally, across the industry verticals. “By having information at their fingertips, we enable cross-functional teams to share information, stay connected and synchronize their activities,” inputs Janaki. With scientists on an active spree to discover and develop interesting products and drugs, Janaki saw a need for technology-supported collaboration and decision making that can help bring new discoveries to market in successful ways. “At Iris, we are committed to fostering innovation in organizations by helping companies bring new products and services to market with speed, efficiency and quality. What this means in the context of the life sciences industry is that, we help companies improve and save lives by bringing the right medicines to patients faster,” says Janaki. Iris Interactive’s end-to-end software suite, built on its flagship BrandNET Platform streamlines the process of bringing an asset to market from proof of concept to loss of exclusivity. This cloud-based platform comprises nine products that represent all business functions and external partners involved in the development, commercialization and ongoing brand management of life sciences products.
Rather than providing pinpoint solutions related to just one segment, BrandNET platform has a domain model that combines the capabilities of document management, project management, compliance, workflow and KPI dashboards to streamline business processes. “This technology can foster innovation in any industry as it can help teams take an idea and transform it into a tangible product or service with speed, efficiency and quality. Similar to how ERP is for supply chain management, and CRM is for customer management, Iris BrandNET Platform is purpose-built for developing, commercializing and building brands across all industries,” notes Janaki.
Accelerating Product Launch in a Secure Fashion
In order for Life Sciences companies to achieve faster time to market, they need to reduce the time from discovery to approval and launch. They also need to ensure execution of commercialization activities early enough to avoid delays and re-work, which could result in a loss of revenue and market share. This requires streamlining development and launch processes that ensure cross-functional collaboration using industry-specific best practices. Companies also need superior project and program management to embark upon a clear view on all the milestones, timeline interdependencies, risks and also to reduce bottleneck issues. Lastly, the companies’ on-demand access to key information will ensure all propriety information is stored in an organized, searchable and secure manner. This will guarantee that IP does not leave with turnovers and that it is easily accessible by business users during submissions and when responding to payer and FDA queries “We found our onestop- shop for housing essential information and a productive tool to continually enhance the ability for OptiNose to grow successfully as a global company,” says Peter Miller – CEO, OptiNose, an Iris customer.
The company has also e-enabled and facilitated all activities in the development and commercialization process by developing a prioritization algorithm, which allows crossfunctional teams to apply objective criteria for assessing Janaki Joshi both, attractiveness and feasibility while also taking into consideration risk profiles of assets. In addressing security concerns, Iris has a global patented security technology that is accountability-based, without having to rely on users to allocate security permissions as it is automatically assigned based on business rules. “This ensures that everyone can easily access the right information at the right time with appropriate security,” says Janaki. According to Tom Dyer, Collaborative Outcomes, an Iris Business Partner, “We recently implemented Iris to manage a first in class asset being launched by an alliance between a large pharmaceutical and an innovative biotech company, to elevate their collaboration and sensitive information sharing which has resulted in providing them a competitive edge.”
Breaking Conventional Barriers
The conception of the name Iris goes back to Greek Mythology—messenger of gods. Janaki highlights three factors behind the company’s conception—a vision to build something sustainable and long-term for customers; encouraging flexibility for employees in the corporate environment to achieve work-life balance; and to inspire startups for opting self-funding ventures that benchmark better innovations. With Iris platform being used across the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical devices and consumer industries, some of the blue chip customers include Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer Consumer Health, Lion Nathan, Roche, Merck Serono, Sanofi and Novartis among others. One such mid-sized pharmaceutical company with assets in multiple therapeutic areas in general medicines and specialty products was lacking adequate cross-functional input in development and launch which made the process of managing and tracking, difficult and time consuming. With the help of Iris Interactive, the company was able to deliver better visibility, co-ordination and decision making across functions and geography, which helped them escalate the results sooner.
Going forward, Iris Interactive strategizes to build its platform to foster collaboration across universities, biotech, pharmaceuti cal and device companies, CROs, CMOs and advertising agencies as well as providers, payers and government. “Given that healthcare is a major focus of most countries around the world, and with pressures on reducing costs and move to virtualization, our goal is to deliver an unprecedented level of efficiency, quality and speed to the life sciences industry and to emerge as a clear leader in the product commercialization space,” concludes Janaki.