June 19, 2020

The Y2K crisis necessitated that every corporation examine its risk of business continuity and corporate boards demanded a certified audit to prevent any catastrophe. Ironically, the Coronavirus pandemic has made supply chain to be an overarching area of consideration for saving lives. From gaining visibility of the spread of the virus to sourcing the PPE and medical supplies required for treating infected patients and delivering to the hospitals, it has become imperative that the vulnerability of every step of the way be understood, analyzed and overcome.

Every link of the supply chain, whether the supplier, logistics company, hospital or the care provider, is energized by the responsibility of preventing a loss of human life. It is no longer about passing the baton to the next hand, it is about winning the race. The self-centered interest of a link or silo is replaced with a super-ordinate goal of restoring patient health. There is also an unprecedented pressure to accelerate the development of the vaccine and the drug.

In this new reality, from the Main Street to Wall Street, everyone has come to understand the holistic nature of supply chain management. The excessive dependence of the pharmaceutical industry for APIs has become everyone’s concern. The first responders have been recognized as the most precious link of the chain. The last quarter delivery of the drug to the patient is deemed to be the Achilles’ heel. Personal responsibility in terms of hygiene and social distancing has been heightened. Visualization of pandemic spread has proved to be a powerful medium.

Fiduciary corporate responsibility will require that the resilience of the supply chains of the enterprise in the global supply and demand environment be systematically scrutinized and reported to shareholders. The strategic remedial actions required, emanating from a traditional assessment, will consist of transforming people, processes, technology and information. The vulnerability exposed will be addressed by solutions available.
The proverbial phoenix will rise from the ashes as the antifragile supply chain to be built will be exponentially better in terms of resilience, agility and patient care. Global healthcare has been progressing at the pace of an elephant whereas diseases have been spreading with a vengeance. The application of AI, Machine Learning, IoT and Digitalization will transform healthcare into a genome and CRISP-driven drug discovery of personalized medicine.

The greatest opportunity to facilitate change will be at the enterprise level where functional executives will take a supply chain view, reinforce their relationships with their pre and post links, explore engaged more appropriately for passing the baton, and measure success of the system rather than of its component. It goes without saying that automation, system integration, information sharing, QA and best business practices will drive continuous improvement.

Submitted by Devendra Mishra, Executive Director, BSMA