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Pharmaceutical giant partners to push analytics

Clint Boulton | Jan. 26, 2017
Merck KGaA is banking on partnerships with Silicon Valley analytics companies as it automates a supply chain challenged by spikes in demand.

Dreaming of supply chain automation

However, DeLuca says that Merck is “far from that” state of automation, a caveat that has credence when you consider recent research from McKinsey Institute. The researcher says that although half of today’s work activities could be automated with current technologies it may not happen until 2055.

De Luca says Merck is working closely with FusionOps to test machine learning capabilities in its supply chain, as well as a voice-activation feature that allows him to have updates about service, demand and inventory read to him aloud by the software. He says this shaves hours off of the time it takes to read scores of FusionOps reports, which are based on millions of data points. He expects to launch this prototype into production in a couple months.

Merck’s analytics partnerships with Palantir and FusionOps underscore the company's recognition that it needs to work more closely with technology vendors to drive innovation. "We need to partner with Silicon Valley firms," De Luca tells CIO.com. "Before it was make or buy the best solution. Now it's about what we can develop together."

Merck’s selection of Palantir is curious. Despite Palantir’s reputation for gleaning high-quality insights from data – particularly among the cybersecurity sector – there isn’t a software vendor more polarizing. The company, co-founded by Trump transition adviser Peter Thiel, has strong ties to U.S. intelligence agencies that use its analytics software to monitor people.

Documents uncovered by The Verge in December show that it has created a system for the U.S .Customs and Border Protection Agency to track and assess immigrants.

 

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