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Industry: Pharma
Region: Global
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Resources |Case study

Roche Uses Starmind to Leverage its Scale and Form Global Connections in a New World of Work


Roche, one of the world’s largest biotech companies, focuses on finding new medicines and diagnostics and establishing data-based insights that evolve the practice of medicine and help patients live longer, better lives.


Roche needed a way to connect and share the knowledge of its 100,000 employees, particularly subject matter experts, to help teams work more efficiently. Roche wanted to provide the amount of medical advances at half the cost to society.


  • Roche users of Starmind’s solution have doubled each year. The company started in 2020 with 1,000 users, which subsequently grew to 2,000 and 4,000. The end goal for 2022 is 10,000 users.

  • Roche has used Starmind’s translation feature to deploy the knowledge management system internationally, adding thousands of new users in the process.
  • The company continues to look for ways to innovate in their knowledge management processes. Roche’s road map includes exploring additional integrations such as Google Spaces and its intranet.

Summary: Tapping Employee Knowledge to Drive Medical Innovation

Roche, one of the world’s largest biotech companies, along with Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, needed a way to tap into the knowledge and experience of its massive employee base and identify experts who could provide key information and streamline processes.

Starmind helped Roche create a knowledge network that empowers its teams to share knowledge more effectively and efficiently. This has improved collaboration for the global and digitally minded company and has been beneficial for patients affected by Roche’s work. 

Background: Unlocking Diversity's Power to Innovate

Roche’s vision is to provide twice the amount of medical advances at half the cost to society. Fulfilling Roche’s vision starts with the people on the team.

The company requires “a strong diversity of people with integrity, courage and passion, says Sebastian Hein, IT business partner, product development quality informatics (PDQIX) at Genentech Inc., which is part of Roche. “And what we realize is … we need our people to actually make this commitment happen.” 

Roche and Genentech had the right people with the right knowledge to deliver on its commitment, but it needed a way for team members with different backgrounds, perspectives and experience to connect and engage with one another to foster innovative solutions for the benefit of patients.

Challenge: Accessing Detailed Knowledge Across the Enterprise

By 2019, the company had about 100,000 employees contributing a vast amount of knowledge and experience, but there wasn’t a sufficient way to tap into the knowledge of those individuals or find experts in real time. Because the organization was so large, initiatives across the global workforce became fractured and disconnected. 

Roche and Genentech needed a centralized platform to bring its work together and avoid creating silos around communication and knowledge sharing. It also needed a flexible solution that could adapt as the company discovered how to drive the best results. Because of the organization’s size and added complexity, the company wanted a solution that offered customization and integrations into existing platforms.

Solution: Bridging the Gap Between Documentation and Experience

After review, the company decided on a knowledge management pilot program of 1,000 users across various functions, departments and locations. Finding a solution that offered detailed reporting and analytics was key for driving performance. The success of the pilot program would determine how to proceed with the road map.

Roche determined that Starmind was the best partner for the pilot. This partnership included a scientific approach to finding and connecting the strongest sources of information. Starmind would help Roche and Genentech tap into employee capabilities and knowledge while building a bridge between documented information and tacit knowledge. 

The dynamic solution focused on providing quick and easy access to knowledge that was accurate and regularly updated. By combining the power and efficiency of artificial intelligence with the massive amount of knowledge that employees already had, Roche could use the Starmind platform to create a real-time knowledge network. This would allow teams access to on-demand answers and connections with colleagues who have extensive knowledge and experience with a particular subject. 

While many organizations similar in size to Roche take careful, measured steps toward innovation, the company realized it would need to be agile in responding to the performance and needs of their knowledge management efforts. Roche also wanted to allow for experimentation and adaptability during this pilot. 

The company would test new Starmind features and review how employees responded before determining how to move forward. For example, the company’s international presence required multi-language support, which Starmind addressed through its automatic translation feature.

Upon successful launch, additional features and integrations such as Workday and Google Spaces would be added as the user base grew. Roche and Genentech would use Starmind’s analytics to track performance and engagement during each phase of the rollout to ensure that teams could access the knowledge they needed in the most effective way.

Results: Explosive User Growth and Accelerated Innovation

User growth exceeded expectations. The success of the initial tests quickly led to project expansions and a multiyear road map. Within the first year, Roche was able to double its user base to 2,000, and it did so again in 2022, to 4,000. The company’s goal for the end of 2022 is 10,000 users across the company, which is about 10% of the total workforce. 

What began as a grassroots effort has become a part of the company culture. Team members are proactively reaching out and requesting access, leading to expanded use and more engagement. For example, teams in China and France have requested multi-language support, and Roche was able to add 1,500 to 2,000 users in France alone by accommodating the translation feature request. 

The company is reviewing additional use cases for the translation feature, along with other integrations. This review-and-expand approach allows Roche, Genentech and Starmind to test new features and become an easy, convenient part of everyday workflows. 

Roche is further integrating Starmind’s solution into its overall knowledge management strategy in combination with other forms of explicit knowledge management, making it even easier for employees to find the right knowledge and the right experts at the right time. 

Ultimately, the company is working toward a universal knowledge-sharing location for all activities, such as searching Google Spaces, browsing the company’s intranet or finding subject matter experts for in-depth knowledge sharing. 

Adoption rates and other user metrics indicate that the company is headed in the right direction. Roche is testing Starmind’s analytics features to determine other useful performance metrics, such as the average time it takes to answer questions, the number of questions asked and their average ratings. Additionally, looking at metrics such as time spent searching for answers can highlight how Starmind has helped Roche’s teams create easy access to the knowledge they need.  

Hein explained how Starmind’s human-centric knowledge management approach aligns with Roche’s vision of providing twice the amount of medical advances at half the cost to society. 

“Imagine if 10% or 15% of 100,000 employees around the world find experts in 15 minutes instead of three weeks,” Hein says. “How much acceleration can we have when it comes to new initiatives and experiments and other new research? This is, for me, still mind-boggling.”

“Imagine if 10% or 15% of 100,000 employees around the world find experts in 15 minutes instead of three weeks. How much acceleration can we have when it comes to new initiatives and experiments and other new research?”

Sebastian Hein, IT Business Partner, Product Development Quality Informatics (PDQIX) at Genentech, Inc

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