With $29+ billion in annual revenue, Takeda Pharmaceuticals is the largest pharmaceutical company in Asia and one of the top 10 pharma companies in the world. Takeda based its new digital content architecture on Stackbit. As a result, a small in-house team efficiently powers 80 different websites–including the main corporate website that serves 4m unique visitors every quarter–and ships new apps to their employees 4x faster than before.
Stackbit was 100% the key to our success and was the critical ingredient that put all the pieces together.Dave Feldman, Head of Digital Products at Takeda
David Feldman, Head of Digital Products and DevOps at Takeda, faced two challenges.
First, he needed a common web infrastructure that served customers and partners in more than 70 geographies. Takeda regional managers ran their own local sites because each country has distinct compliance and healthcare regimes.
Second, Dave's team had a mandate to build the all-digital workplace. The Digital Products team was responsible for multiple the internal apps and websites to support a hybrid workforce of 60,000 around the world. The Takeda digital team supported ~80 experiences when one combined country websites, regional sites, and internal employee apps.
The Takeda digital team hypothesized that their existing monolithic DXP stack couldn't do the job. But as they evaluated various decoupled and headless CMS options, they were faced with even more questions. Should they go with an API-first or API-only CMS? Which mix of agencies, developers, and vendors could set up the internal Takeda team for long-term success?
New Stackbit-Based Architecture
Even after choosing Next.js and Sanity.io, Takeda's digital group needed help putting all the headless pieces together. Working closely with Stackbit's solution architects, Takeda built a platform that exceeded their expectations. Dave complimented Stackbit, calling us "the replatforming experts" when it came to the new headless content stack.
The team used Stackbit's unique capabilities to consolidate all 80 projects within a single content source. As seen in the architecture diagram below, every React component and Sanity content model is reusable across sites; all of them are packaged into 3 neat npm packages.
The new architecture allowed a small dev team to use a single platform to support an army of regional site managers and content experts. At the same time, content managers were able to iterate their websites independently of the developer team. Other companies that used headless CMS's to manage complex sites often relied on a dedicated CMS expert. Takeda avoided this bottleneck by using Stackbit's visual previews and synchronization.
Stackbit let Takeda developers, designers, marketers, regional managers, and content managers to work with almost no dependencies on each other.
The team recognized that transitioning Takeda.com–a global corporate pharmaceutical website–across dozens of languages was no easy task. The challenge was compounded by the need to maintain compliance with the distinct healthcare and privacy regulations of 70 different countries.
A New Takeda.com
To ease the transition, the Takeda digital team built an automated system that verified that each page in the new CMS would appear exactly as it did in the old system. This avoided any pixel changes that might trigger expensive and time-consuming compliance reviews with national regulators.
Takeda used a Stackbit feature called Content Filters to create country-specific projects that were all stored in the same Sanity content source. For example, the site manager of Takeda France could view all content around the world in the CMS but only edit Takeda content stored under takeda.com/fr. In addition to improving governance, this reduced content storage requirements which saved Takeda tens of thousands of dollars in duplicate storage costs.
Finally, the Stackbit architecture empowered the central developer team in Massachusetts to keep iterating on shared library components while regional site managers independently adopted the new CMS at their own pace.
Takeda Employee Marketplace and Campus Apps
In addition to the external corporate site, Dave's team was responsible for multiple digital experiences for Takeda employees.
For example, the Takeda Virtual Marketplace supported employees as an online internal company store. The Marketplace let employees independently provision their own laptops, equipment, and even high level vendor services like Accenture. The site could not scale for the future; the team estimated that a rebuild would require 12 months using the old stack. Thanks to the Stackbit and the new architecture, the same team was able to roll out the new Marketplace app in 3 months–four times faster!
Another example of the power of the new stack is was the new internal Takeda Campus app for employees at the company's US headquarters. The app was built, tested, and deployed in a fraction of the expected time because of the reusability of the Next.js/Sanity components and Stackbit's orchestration. But this was just the beginning.
This is not just web content; it's actually structured content in a database that allows us to build for mobile platforms, Microsoft Mesh, and AR/VR.Dave Feldman, Head of Digital Products at Takeda
Marketplace and Campus Apps
The agility and composability offered by Stackbit promised many new possibilities for Takeda digital experiences. The team laid the foundation for the Marketplace app to become full-blown Product Information Management (PIM) application where outside vendors could manage their own inventory.
In the near future, the Takeda Campus app built on Stackbit will leverage the Microsoft Graph of 60,000 employees to help employees collectively decide which day is most efficient for a given team to come into the office–based on machine learning algorithms that find the 50 colleagues you collaborate with most often.
The team has begun to explore APIs for AR/VR to enrich internal Takeda apps. As Dave Feldman said, "This is not just web content; it's actually structured content in a database that allows us to build for mobile platforms, Microsoft Mesh, and AR/VR."
Plasma Donation Centers
The new Stackbit-based model will let Takeda explore other use cases. Takeda subsidiary BioLife Plasma Services runs more than 100 plasma donation centers that are run by clinicians. Similar to the individual store owners in Takeda Marketplace and the country site managers in Takeda offices around the world, Stackbit's powerful architecture and componentized approach will allow individual clinicians to independently edit their own local sites while ensuring global consistency and reduced developer time.
Takeda Pharmaceuticals is one of the most innovative biomedical companies in the world. Their rapid adoption of a Stackbit architecture and headless content stack shows that they are also visionaries in web technology, digital experiences, and empowering their global workforce.