The availability of new technologies and the competitive advantage gained by integrating multiple data sets will soon make the use of PowerPoint obsolete and will fundamentally change the way we function as organizations

In many industries and professions, PowerPoint is the medium by which we collect data, conduct analysis and communicate with one another.  We sit in our offices to build slides and then sit in conference rooms to discuss slides.

At some point we must question the value and cost associated with PowerPoint as a medium and whether a new operating model should emerge?

There is no doubt that PowerPoint is vastly more effective than its predecessors, pen and paper and the typewriter. A single PowerPoint slide can combine data, in charts and graphs, with market information as well as include the writer’s point of view.  However, the time and cost associated with designing and developing PowerPoint is significant and there is no end to the number of iterations.  They go on and on, week after week until teams pile up 100’s of slides, which ultimately end up sitting on a shelf.

The work environment and utility of this approach has many limitations:

  • Information Immediately Obsolete: As data now changes on a daily basis, the information in PowerPoint slides is outdated almost immediately. Marketing and sales teams are left with last month’s data to make today’s strategic and tactical decisions. 
  • Disaggregated Market Information: For many businesses, the “market” can include multiple decision makers. For example, in the biotechnology industry, the combination of payers, providers and patients influence treatment decisions. Unfortunately, this market ecosystem is typically analyzed separately for each decision maker, leaving out valuable insights pertaining to aggregate influence and requiring teams to scramble  to piece together insights from multiple PowerPoint presentations. 
  • Highly Inefficient: The creation of PowerPoint slides is arduous and time-consuming. Hand-cranking graphs and charts take a significant amount of  time and effort leading to poor productivity across the workforce. 
  • No Analytics Environment: PowerPoint doesn’t allow for the manipulation of data, such as integration of multiple data assets, to provide meaningful analytics longitudinally.
  • Basic Information Still a Cost Premium: In the biotechnology industry, a single company will spend $150k-$300k to understand basic information about a particular disease area, such as breast cancer.   Given that there are over 700 products in development for this disease, substantial amounts of duplicative information is being developed at a significant cost to the industry.

However, the PowerPoint madness is coming to an end — the advent of mobile interfaces allows us to design solutions which integrate multiple data sets and provide business users and interdisciplinary working teams with “on demand” information to make more informed business decisions.

Though this evolution will not occur overnight, the following trends will filter into our work environment over the coming years.

  1. Shift from PowerPoint to Platform Applications: Interdisciplinary teams as well as individual employees will use various “automated” platform applications to drive collaborative decision-making. These business applications will display critical information aggregated across multiple data sets and provide an enabling advanced analytic toolset. 
  2. Focus on Design and Deployment of Applications: Employee and interdisciplinary team time will increasingly be spent on the design of these “sustainable” applications rather than PowerPoint. Teams will focus their attention on: 
    1. What information do we need to obtain about our market? 
    2. What data do we have or do we need to acquire to make informed decisions? 
    3. How can we structure the application to drive better decision-making? 
    4. What analytic environment do we need to derive the best insights? 
  3. New Roles and Functions within Organizations: To enable these changes, companies will increasingly deploy application designers and analytic experts within key disciplines, such as marketing and sales, to lead the creation of these applications.  The traditional business model of outsourced services, such as management consulting, will change significantly with an increased emphasis on application design and ongoing implementation.
  4. Introduction of Industry-Wide Platform Solutions: Market information will become available with immediately “downloadable” applications. Companies will no longer have to wait through another drawn out consulting engagement to acquire enough information to make business decisions.  This information will be integrated and packaged in easily consumable applications at a fraction of the cost.  

Significant productivity gains and advanced analytic environments are altering how we function as businesses, creating new working models and approaches to our day-to-day working environment.  A competitive advantage, in the form of speed to insight and agility exists for those who take advantage of this quickly emerging trend.

Jason Baumgartner is a VP at Trinity Pharma Solutions and can be reached at