Pfizer, Pharmacia Groove Together - InformationWeek

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10/10/2002
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Pfizer, Pharmacia Groove Together

The I.T. groups at the two about-to-merge pharmaceutical makers plan to become one team

The I.T. department at drugmaker Pfizer Inc. began using Groove Technology Inc.'s online collaboration application early this year to manage departmental projects. Now it's taking things a step further -- in preparation for Pfizer's pending $60 billion merger with Pharmacia Corp., the IT group is using Groove to manage its own submerger with its former rival's IT department.

Between the two groups, there are about 150 people involved in the integration project. The collaborative work centers around helping Pfizer's IT managers get a handle on how their Pharmacia counterparts do things, says Don Courville, senior director of Pfizer's IT leadership team. Courville and his team are familiarizing themselves with Pharmacia's infrastructure, applications, and best practices -- information that will be used to turn the two departments into one cohesive group.

The combined IT departments are expected to be operating as one by the first of the year, about the time the merger is slated to close.

Don Courville, senior director of Pfizer's IT leadership team. Photo by Sacha Lecca.

Groove excels at cross-firewall collaboration, Pfizer's Courville says.
The process of setting up the Groove online environment, establishing security settings, and training users has taken less time than completing the technical setup of some other collaborative apps, Courville says. Groove's peer-to-peer architecture eliminates many of the headaches of setting up a secure, server-based collaboration application, so users don't have to worry about synchronizing data and checking documents in and out, Courville says. Groove uses a remote relay server to store documents and message strings, automatically syncing each time users log on or off and letting users easily work offline.

Courville is comfortable enough with Groove's security that he's considering recommending it for other types of external collaboration at Pfizer. It's "a very hard nut to crack," he says. And "it excels at cross-firewall collaboration. We have lots of partners where this might be a natural fit."

Groove founder and CEO Ray Ozzie had quick adoption in mind when he designed the product. The technology is modeled, in part, after E-mail, which he says is the ultimate tool for letting people accomplish tasks that "they know they need to get done independent of processes."

Photo by Sacha Lecca

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