The Secret to a Responsive Supply Chain


Master Data First

Who could’ve imagined that within a few months, the words “out of stock” would be on the lips of almost every consumer? The average consumer of health and personal care products may still not know how a well-oiled supply chain works. But, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we all know a rusty one when we see it.

As people were “locked down” in the early days of the pandemic, their shopping patterns shifted dramatically and almost overnight. In some countries, online or eCommerce sales increased over 250 percent versus the prior year. Purchasing rose as a result of people staying home, and, in certain categories, due to an increase in self-care (as opposed to care directed by a healthcare professional (HCP)). And, product hoarding and stockouts of common products led consumers to seek alternative sources and products.

In Spain, for example, online pharmacy sales shot up in March.

Source: eRetail Audit (IQVIA & Convert Group)

And in Italy, the average number of products online pharmacy channel receipt increased 138 percent in early April.

Source: eCommerce IQVIA Audit

The pandemic has made it abundantly clear that you can’t rely on business-as-usual patterns and practices to produce the right product and stock it in the right location. Your planning, production, and supply operations need to be responsive to sudden changes in demand. In other words, you need visibility to the entire value chain. You need accurate, comprehensive, accessible data.

“Data first” as a winning strategy.

Arguably, data is a company’s greatest non-human asset. It not only informs decision making, but now, with the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), data powers engagement, business strategies, and revenue models. Your investment in advanced analytics and sophisticated, enterprise software is wasted if the foundational data isn’t comprehensive, accurate, organized, and relevant.

Visibility to customer and product data down to the SKU level is key to being able to:

  • Understand changing demand in the market and develop alternative scenarios to adjust production plans swiftly
  • Change raw material orders and find alternate suppliers based on the risk of shortages and for optimum profit
  • Make real-time price and promotion changes to reflect shifting demand, customer needs, and stock availability of not only your product but competitive products as well
  • Optimize your portfolio to meet consumer demand across various geographies and classes of trade, while optimizing production capabilities and profitability
  • Manage seasonal products and promotions cost effectively
  • Ensure business continuity by creating multiple risk management plans
  • Optimize your shelf space by analyzing product turn rates and optimal planogram configurations

So, how do you ensure that your data is comprehensive, current and available to users in sales, marketing, ecommerce, trade marketing, finance, accounting, production, and supply chain management?

Master data management gives data its value

Responsive Master Data Management (MDM) systems, such as Reltio for IQVIA’s MDM Solution, gather and govern master data across customer, product, stores, and supplier domains. An MDM system collects data from multiple systems – for example from your manufacturing system, your pricing and contract system, and your sales system – and stores it in a common repository as a single source of truth.

Arguably, data is a company’s greatest non-human asset. It not only informs decision making, but now, with the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), data powers engagement, business strategies, and revenue models.

No single system or application has all the product or customer details you’ll need, so the data sources have to be integrated. In addition they must be enriched with 3rd-party data sources for deeper understanding. And certain aspects of the records may not be in complete agreement across sources. The supplier names, for example, may be slightly different from one record to the next.

However, with the right business rules in place, the system matches and cleanses the data to arrive at a “golden” record that represents the best and most accurate profile with thousands of attributes for every entity. Downstream users then access contextual views of the customer product, or supplier profiles, based on what’s relevant to their role or business objective.

Responsiveness begins with rapid deployment

The pandemic is here and now. So, how long does it take to implement a best-in-class, responsive MDM system? The answer used to be a calendar year… or more. But today, you can have a system up and running in less than three months because:

  • The technology exists in the cloud, so the environment is ready and waiting for you (It also means users will have access even when working remotely)
  • The solution is industry specific and data domain specific so that the amount of configuration is a fraction of what used to be required
  • Reltio and IQVIA’s shared domain expertise allows us to understand your business needs and to design and operationalize the right data strategy for you
  • There is no fear of over-investment or under-investment. The solution scales according to your need for growth or seasonal adjustments.

The pandemic quickly exposed any weaknesses in the supply chain and continues to challenge consumer health companies in their response to shifting product demand. A next-generation MDM solution can provide clear visibility to your entire value chain, ultimately helping to adapt and optimize your portfolio and resource allocation.

Reltio and IQVIA are strategic partners in developing innovative solutions to help your organizations handle the increasingly complex information needed to make effective business decisions in consumer health. For more information about our software-as-a-service (SasS) MDM offering, please contact IQVIA at consumer.health@iqvia.com.



IQVIA’s unparalleled data and industry experience extending Reltio’s unmatched Master Data Management Platform

  • Six (6) months of Reltio subscription fees credit off the 36-month term subscription
  • Reltio Professional Services Package (valued at $100K) at no additional charge to assist with the implementation of the Reltio Platform with IQVIA

  • OneKey Data tenant fee waived for first year (valued at $50K/Year)
  • IQVIA SFDC-Reltio Connector fee waved for first year (valued at $50K/Year)
  • Layer L3 License subscription fee waved for six (6) months with 36-month term subscription
  • Managed Services discount of $50K for setup services with 36-month term subscription

 Learn more

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