Johnson & Johnson Big Data

15.05.2020 in Research Paper
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Company Overview

Johnson & Johnson sells health products to clients in over 175 countries around the globe. It researches, develops, manufactures, and distributes health care products. It has been in operation for at least 130 years and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1944. Johnson & Johnson has a decentralized management system with an executive committee responsible for developing strategies and financing its projects. This company has more than 270 organizations working under its brand. In 2015, it had total net assets of $133,411 million, total liabilities of $27,747, and net earnings of $15,409 million (Annual report 2015: Johnson & Johnson, 2016). In mid-2015, Johnson & Johnson partnered with IBM to implement Watson Health, a cloud-based big data analytics application that enables pharmaceutical companies, physicians, insurers, researchers, and technology companies to securely access data regarding patients in real-time. Big data analytics has the potential of revolutionizing the pharmaceutical industry (“Real world evidence: Not just ‘big data’,” 2015).

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Data Application Description

Department Implementing Watson Health

The research and development department of the pharmaceutical unit implements Watson Health. The department is thus able to gain access and analyze a large amount of data with the aim of identifying causes of diseases such as diabetes and manufacturing pharmaceutical products to treat them. 

Application Objectives

Watson Health is a solution to a problem; since integrating various sectors, namely insurance and health sectors under one platform has been a major problem over the years due to the fact that each sector has been working independently. In addition, analyzing huge amounts of data from different sectors for the purpose of compiling comprehensive reports regarding patients’ data has been a challenge. However, Watson Health has harnessed the data from various sectors enabling them to receive patients’ information about health in actual time and analyze it to implement the most effective health care measures. Having analyzed the data obtained from different sectors related to health, the research and development department at Johnson & Johnson is able to offer health care products that are tailor-made to solve health problems that people experience. 

Another issue is that many systems that have been previously developed are able to analyze only the structured data. Owing to the fact that different organizations store their data in varying forms (structured or/and unstructured), there was a great problem regarding the analysis of unstructured data. Watson Health can use cognitive computing to analyze unstructured data including photos and arrive at reasonable conclusions. The application is also able to learn while processing the information, which facilitates the process of producing new data as well as predicting potential health problems of patients.

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Application Description and Overview

Watson Health is a decision support system that works through the concept of artificial intelligence. As an artificially intelligent machine, it thinks like human acts like humans and is even capable of reasoning. In this regard, it can process information and output reliable conclusions.

Watson Health captures health-related data from various databases and uploads it into the processor for analysis. The data include documents in portable document formats and word, photos, and web pages, both present and past. It then organizes the data in relation to different types and connections. The application integrates different forms of collected data into groups for easier processing. After integration, it analyzes the data by dividing it into key concepts to gather the facts that match the information that was found. The processor can investigate various algorithms at the same time and draw a valid conclusion. The application thereafter processes the results of the analysis by presenting data to users in a way that is easy to comprehend. However, obtaining approval and implementing the system may face possible challenges.

First, with the increased rate of cybercrime, security becomes weaker (Schmarzo, 2013). Information from various sectors related to health needs to be transferred from their original databases to the processing system and various workstations. The transfer of the information has to be done in a secure environment, thus the need to implement effective security systems that ensure that patients’ data is not viewed by people who should not have access to it. 

Second, the issue of confidentiality, integrity, and privacy arises (Schmarzo, 2013). Watson Health is a pay-as-a-service cloud-based system, which indicates that the users such as Johnson & Johnson take advantage of the system and only pay for the services they use. They, therefore, do not have to consider or to know the underlying architecture of the system. Instead of this, they leave the work of updating, maintaining, and upgrading the systems to third-party providers such as IBM. The system/database administrators of the party providers would definitely have access to patients’ information since they are the data custodians. Hence, the question remains whether or not the IBM employees will be able to keep the information which they access in their systems in confidentiality. 

Finally, the issue of patients’ consent is also significant (Schmarzo, 2013). Watson Health uses data that has been obtained from various sources including inside and outside the research and development department at Johnson & Johnson. All this evidence has been collected from the patients either deliberately or accidentally. The use of patients’ data should be done after obtaining consent from the patients. However, the application uses the data for analysis without the patients’ permission, which raises further ethical questions. The abovementioned challenges must be adequately addressed for the future success of the application.  

Position along the Big Data Business Model Maturity Index

The department of research and development is at the stage of insights in the maturity index of the big data business model with its Watson Health. The company uses statistical analysis and data aiming to yield insights that can be later used in its research and development department. In this respect, the department is able to obtain recommendations that it can follow to significantly improve its efficiency and effectiveness as well as its products to clients. The department may easily unearth various trends with regard to patients’ health in the market and devise different ways of preparing products and services that specifically address the issues identified. In this context, Johnson & Johnson collaborated with IBM to create a mobile application that acts as a virtual coach to help patients whose knees have been replaced through surgery improve their clinical outcomes. The application connects with Watson Health, which analyzes the data fed by patients and those in IBM’s databases. It enhances a physician’s knowledge about the right time to contact a patient or informs a patient about the appropriate time to take his or her medicine. It also provides insurance companies with the health progress of a patient, enabling them to take immediate actions when necessary. Schmarzo (2013) indicates that a big amount of data helps to deliver information that facilitates decision-makers in arriving at informed decisions.


While the department of research and development has started to reap the benefits of using Watson Health, it is recommended that it takes the application to the next stages of business model maturity to realize its full potential. This department needs to inform the rest of the company’s sections about the workings and benefits of implementing Watson Health. It should also involve all the users of various application systems the company involves to gain the acceptability of Watson Health and reduce the chances of resistance to change. In this way, the company will be able to move to the optimization phase where some departments start implementing Watson Health. For example, the finance department of the company will utilize Watson Health to perform all its financial operations with the help of algorithms in the system.

Johnson & Johnson should also ensure that it packages the information it obtains for Watson Health so that the information is considered as a ‘product’ ready to be sold to insurers, suppliers, physicians, and other stakeholders. Thus, the company would move to the data optimization stage. To achieve the business metamorphosis stage, Johnson & Johnson should use the patterns and trends it receives from Watson Health to transform its business model from the producer of pharmaceutical products to ‘Pharmaceutical Adviser,’ where it offers paid advice to various stakeholders such as health insurance companies, physicians, and suppliers of the best approaches to gain competitive advantage in their industries. For example, the company can advise insurance companies on the products that are risky and those that are not appropriate for them when it comes to making informed decisions regarding insurance policies and charges, which should be implemented to be competitive while avoiding or spreading risks. 

In conclusion, Watson Health enables the department of research and development to analyze a vast amount of data and produce conclusions that will foster the development of products and services that meet the clients’ needs appropriately. Johnson & Johnson partnered with IBM in the middle of 2015, and both businesses were able to organize a wellness app that assists patients who have undergone knee replacement. The department is in the phase of insights with its Watson Health application, and should definitely take the recommended steps to climb the ladder and attain the business metamorphosis stage.

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