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This is the second part of a two-part blog. You can access part one here.


In part 1 we looked at serialization, the genesis for serialization and prognosis therefore and business benefits of serialization.

Now let us look at four industries that have high potential business transformation opportunities as a result of serialization regulations:


Pharmaceutical manufacturers:

With increasing pressure from biosimilars and digital disruptors, pharmaceutical manufacturers (like most manufacturers) are always on the lookout for new products, new markets and increasing their CLTV – customer life-time value (i.e. selling more to the same customer/patient).

Tracking the consumption and usage of serialized medication, along with social listening can help manufacturers understand how their end patients are using the product. Neither will they have to wait for long, nor depend on accidental discoveries (such as Rogaine) to establish alternative uses for approved products. With continuous patient and physician engagement using digital CRM tools such as SAP Hybris, manufacturers can very nimbly brand approved products for alternative usage.

Social listening would also help manufacturers understand their patient behavior before they engage with the product (after developing a medical condition) and also after their treatment is successfully completed. Such insights will help manufacturers find other synergistic products or services that could be offered to these patients. It is likely that in some cases these additional services could prevent or lower the intensity of the condition. While providing a better patient (user) experience, the manufacturer will be able to find acquisition targets or get requirements to build their next product.

Tracking serial numbers across the supply chain can provide a number of additional insights, not limited to the following:

  • The path traversed by the product (serial number) from the manufacturer’s packaging facility until the final consumption point,

  • Time taken or spent at each “node” along the route,

  • Temperature, storage and economic conditions at each node

  • Volume of product passing along each lane in their distribution channel

When data on each of the above insights is analyzed, there is room for improvement on various fronts.

Supply chain routes can be optimized. Partners can be incentivized to move product quicker. There is room for optimizing storage and reducing costs, considering alternative routes to ensure adherence to temperature limited to sensitive drugs and avoiding routes where there is economic turmoil. Based on volume analysis, companies can choose cheaper, but slower transport for large volume shipments should the data lead towards that decision.

By narrowing down the product to a lot size of one, serialization will make it possible for manufacturers to recall individual products by serial numbers, instead of entire batches (as done today), once the root cause of product defect is determined. This will result in lowering costs of recall, maintaining sizeable inventory in the market place, retaining market share and lowering loss of reputation.



The CEO of a large software company famously pointed out at Sapphire 2016 that every company produces digital technology. Pharmaceutical wholesalers are a good example of this breed, once serialization becomes mainstream.

Manufacturers place a high value on the data that the wholesalers possess, on their drugs. Leveraging the value of such data, it should be possible for a wholesaler to sell at a discounted price (say, $20 million a year) the data that the manufacturer needs (say, at an estimated value of $25 million).

Wholesalers already possess big data repositories. They maintain data on prescription drugs, serial numbers, potency, product resale, etc. This data of great value to the manufacturer. Wholesalers should look to harnessing such data, finding out its value to a specific manufacturer and then locking-in long-term agreements with manufacturers to sell the data at, say, 80% of estimated value.



Retail stores continue to struggle from the Amazon impact. While they are doing a few things to attract walk-in traffic (such as offering food, beauty services/ haircut and gasoline in store), they need something transformational.

They can provide genuine product to the risk-averse customer. About 7% of food products contain fraudulent ingredients. With annual grocery store sales in the US of about $600 billion, potentially $10 billion worth of counterfeit food product could be protected (assuming a quarter of grocery store sales are food products that could be serialized).

With serialization, the retail store can authenticate the product at the point of dispensation. From that point on, the “genuine” product is safely in the consumer’s hands.

Hospitals, ostensibly, can build apps which can match a prescription to the active ingredient of a serialized product and ensure that the drug being administered is the right prescription for the patient. The three-way match could also consider the patient’s identification number. This will prevent accidental consumption of the wrong drug at the bedside.



In the technology space we will see startups emerge in the areas of app development (leveraging the APIs (application program interfaces) that the track and trace platforms can provide) and better quantification of pharmaceutical product data.


Other industries will also see innovation around serialization.

More connected healthcare devices with ioT capabilities will be produced.

There will be more advances in the area of printing of barcodes and/or innovation in product identifiers.


As is evident from the foregoing, while serialization has started in the life sciences industry (with prescription drugs), it will gradually overlap into consumer and food products. This impact will lead to innovation and re-imagined business models in the consumer products, wholesale and retail industries as well.


Which other areas do you think could be impacted by serialization? Which other industries could be impacted? How else can serialize impact traditional businesses?


Please share your thoughts on this highly interesting topic in the comments section below.