Exhibit A in “Timing is Everything” is: Telemedicine. I first gained experience with Telemedicine as a North American Healthcare sector lead in the mid-1990’s. We constructed telemedicine networks for some of the largest and most prestigious healthcare institutions in the US. They were trying to address the discrepancy of care quality and availability between urban and rural citizens.
While there was efficacy and efficiency to be achieved using telemedicine, there were plenty of naysayers – most notably, physician licensing boards and payers – saying telemedicine wouldn’t work for a variety of reasons. It wouldn’t work until it had to; Exhibit B: Covid-19. In 2020, Americans utilized over 1.5 billion telemedicine visits; a large contrast to 2019 with only 50,000. With the lockdowns, healthcare practitioners had no choice but to make telemedicine work; and it does. Gloriously. For some specialties, we may never go back to F2F visits.
I think the same will hold true for the transparency promised by digital supply chains and track and trace. Many consumer brands and retailers have been working to address this problem for many years. And, as with telemedicine, there have been plenty of naysayers. The criticism comes in the forms of: connectivity, universality of identification, data structure, data quality, data hygiene, interoperability, standards, governance, cost, etc., etc., etc. Plenty have said “…that’ll never work.” Until it has to.
In July of 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published “The New Era of Smarter Food Safety”. This blueprint lays out a strategy of providing universal, nearly instantaneous track and trace requirements for food and beverage products sold in the US. It will require companies to collaborate as an industry and to cooperate with the FDA in defining, developing, and deploying standards and systems to digitize the supply chains, aggregate relevant data, and to make this data easily accessible and
understandable by both regulators and consumers.
Companies will be required to comply with what will soon become law; however, those who embrace this mandate will realize benefits across three vectors: 1) they will gain visibility and operational efficiencies within their supply chains; 2) they will enhance their regulatory compliance while simultaneously reducing their expenses; and, 3) they will develop new ways to engage with customers and consumers. And they will develop operational insights never before possible.
The FDA got this one right: The New Era in Smarter Food Safety is creating the foundational impetus for The New Era in Commercial and Consumer Transparency. And, working with our partners, we at The PCN plan to usher in this new era.