Winning Digital Strategies: Pharmacy Industry Transformation

The pharmaceutical sector is a conservative industry where most changes are driven by regulatory authorities. However, even in this area, digital transformation creates a new paradigm for the development of new technology. For example, blockchain, smart production, and big data provide a good opportunity for resource optimization and market expansion via digital transformation. During the event, top managers from Nanolek, POLYSAN, Sun Pharma Russia, Cisco, PULSE pharmaceutical company, Pharmasyntez, TEVA Russia, Servier, CROC, Takeda, Promomed, CV Protek, NPO Petrovax Farm, and ProfitMed discussed the current situation in the market and digital technology prospects in the pharmaceutical sector.

According to the industry experts, one of the key trends is the automation of business-critical functions: demand forecasting, transparent and shorter supply chain to end consumer, and safe production. E-commerce evolution makes industry players switch from a conventional approach to digital marketing. In addition, many attendees emphasized that goods branding, track and trace as well as counterfeit medicine remain a challenge.

“Obviously, digitalization will change the entire healthcare sector, where pharmacy is a strategically important element. Digital technologies will open up new opportunities for the pharmacy industry and help both improve patient treatment and reduce enterprise expenditures. For instance, Big Data and predictive analysis will help companies prudently manage risks and boost the clinical testing efficiency, thus offering only effective and safe medicine to patients, while blockchain technology will form a reliable platform for data processing and protection in supply chain management, pharmaceutical safety, and medicine development systems,” said Alexander Nozdrachev, Business Development Director, Servier.

IT experts also shared their vision of digitalization trends in the pharmacy industry. Maxim Andreev, Business Applications Director at CROC, talked about the benefits of the Big Data paradigm and shared the case study of a telecom company which just five years ago had to destroy data that was older than nine months because storage costs exceeded business value. With Big Data, businesses can now store huge data amounts at minimum cost, generate a database for in-depth analytics, reveal hidden correlations, apply mathematical algorithms to forecast sales and costs more accurately, as well as optimize equipment load, transportation flows, and marketing campaigns. For instance, CV Protek, Russia’s largest pharmaceuticals distributor, has been using machine learning algorithms for years and reducing costs throughout the supply chain thanks to demand forecasting and logistics optimization system. The technology has proven to be extremely useful for procurement feasibility analysis and helps reduce both transportation costs and peak production loads.

According to Maxim, there remains an underestimated and promising layer of available information: video analytics or machine vision. Neural network algorithms can be used to identify valuable video stream information in real time. For example, video analytics can help monitor drivers on route. Archived videos can show whether they are smoking or eating when on the move, while neural network tools can analyze a driver’s actions in real time and, if necessary, notify the monitoring center and send suspicious videos for analysis. Video analytics is also used to ensure facility security, employee access management, and total control over product movement across the warehouse, from acceptance to shipment, as well as staff actions, including the monitoring of warehouse personnel behavior and performance to prevent thefts and conflicts. Furthermore, automatic breach notification is another obvious advantage provided by the system, while integration of video analytics with enterprise IT infrastructure dramatically improves the efficiency of follow-up measures.

Maxim also told the audience how blockchain technology could increase the transparency of supply track and trace and reduce paper document management costs. In addition, participants agreed that blockchain technology could help better control distribution of original medications and trafficking of counterfeit drugs.

“The modern digital paradigm requires businesses to establish new relations with consumers. To survive in the highly competitive market, companies have to know their customers virtually “in person” and employ digital technologies to promote goods and services. These trends are changing the traditional approach to data accumulation, storage and analysis, with higher value being derived from Big Data technology that enables companies to take user behavior into account and monetize the data received. CROC has completed multiple Big Data projects in various sectors, including the pharmaceutical industry, to help customers tackle business issues of strategic importance, such as cost reduction at all supply chain management stages, from demand forecasting to procurement planning,” added Maxim Andreev.

Unmanned production trends have already won the world, believes Igor Girkin, Director for New Technology Development at Cisco. Digitalization in any industry is aimed at minimizing human impact on production. Human errors corrupt information, thus adversely affecting the entire production process in the pharmacy industry. Pending areas include medication marking and logistics digitalization (i.e. the entire supply chain tracking at each stage), which still involve people. Though blockchain itself is a reliable technology, its algorithms are still developed by people, so errors can occur.

“Digitalization is rapidly changing the global business environment, making companies rebuild their business processes, and starting to create hype in the market. It is amazing to dream of space voyages, but, before leaving the ground, many issues have to be solved here on Earth. Today, we have discussed just few of many topics related to digital transformation,” said Igor Girkin.

Finally, the moderator asked attendees to share their expectations of how digital transformation would change the industry during the next few years, and speakers all agreed that IT tools and platforms capable of creating a unified system to connect vendors, distributors, drugstores, and end consumers, would be the most effective.


The Annual National IT Leader Prize was established in 2002. The Organizing Committee includes the Russian Managers Association, iBusiness web portal; Dengi and iOne magazines (Kommersant Publishing House); Intelligent Enterprise; and CROC.

Information Partners (in the past): Business FM radio station, The Analytical Banking Magazine, and Systems Administrator and BIT. Business & Information Technology magazines. Information TV Partner is World Business Channel. Finally, the online partners are Comnews, ICT-online, IT Manager, CRN, CTA (Contemporary Technologies in Automation), The National Banking Journal, and Global CIO magazines.

The IT Leader Forum is a landmark event in Russia which has been held since 2002 and is attended by over 300 executives and IT directors from the Russian and international companies. Last year, presentations were delivered by top managers from Yota, Enter Svyaznoy, Moscow United Electric Grid Company, URALSIB Bank, Sberbank of Russia, etc. In the past, IT Leader Forum special guests included: Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder; Thomas Frey, Executive Director and Senior Futurist at the DaVinci Institute; Peter Hinssen, co-founder of Across Group and CEO of Across Technology; and Josep Curto, CEO at Delfos Research and professor at IE Business School Madrid.

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About Vedomosti Praktika

Vedomosti Praktika means:

  • Venue for open dialog, opinion exchange and discussion of the most pressing business matters, progressive ideas and innovative technology
  • Venue for Russian and international business communities to meet and analyze and apply the best corporate management practices
  • High-level attendees and speakers: executives and business owners, top managers, heads of representative offices and departments of Russian and international companies