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The Importance of Risk Intelligence in the Supply Chain


Leaders should understand the key themes of risk intelligence in the supply chain, writes Bronwyn Kunhardt.

Pharma companies use digital media (online news, social media) for tracking marketing and PR campaigns. Now, with more advanced analytics and predictive capabilities this valuable, fast-moving data is providing insights in the operational side of the business; in particular companies see such data supporting risk intelligence in their supply chain, internal audit, procurement and compliance services. 

Pharma companies are increasingly assessing the risk and reputation profile of their tier 1 and tier 2 suppliers - and the suppliers of those suppliers. A supplier (and their supply ecosystem) can present multiple risks across the globe such as diversity case in India, a factory closure in Brazil, labour issues in the Middle East, all these could bring about a systemic business failure that could damage the Pharma brand or affect the quality of the product.

More broadly, a supply chain intelligence system can provide extraordinary detail at scale across the globe.   There have been instances where a supplier had a labeling recall of one product in May, and a labeling issue with a different product in a different geography two months later. Consumers often use online and social media to discuss product availability providing those that are able to listen early warning of potential stock outs and quality problems.

Equally important to many pharma company leaders is the need to be on the lookout for disruptive technologies and innovations and their potential effect on their business. Discussion around Biologics, biosimilars, and emergent breakthroughs are discussed often and globally. These ‘needles in the haystack’ conversations and risk-oriented developments can signal disruptions, safety or potential quality issues way ahead of more structured communication in broadcast media or the press.

All of this open up new questions for commercial and public sector organizations, from a pharmacovigiliance and regulatory reporting standpoint there are fewer dark spaces for issues to lurk undetected. 

Leaders need to

  • integrate with existing business processes and procedures for issue identification and alerting

  • quantitatively identify and weight risks across thousands of suppliers and products in real-time is making knowable what is otherwise unknowable out of Big Data.

Further, industry risk managers both within industry as well as within regulatory agencies should have access to a new and unique real-time data stream that can inform their risk management frameworks and mitigation strategies.

While digital media and social media can spawn wildfires, not everything risky is a crisis. Reporting the difference between a threat and a risk-oriented development that is useful to track from an awareness standpoint is key to avoid a state of constant fire-drills.  Leaders should understand the key themes of risk intelligence and how it helps them manage and lead their businesses more effectively.

Bronwyn Kunhardt is co-founder and MD of Polecat, a risk intelligence and analytics company.


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