Epicor Software Corporation, a global provider of industry-specific enterprise software, has announced that Pharma Pharmaceutical Industries (Pharma)—a leader in the kingdom’s pharmaceutical services industry—has implemented Epicor ERP to enhance data capture and archiving capabilities, optimise operational efficiencies, and guarantee on-time delivery to customers.
Pharma brings together business leaders and healthcare veterans to offer services to the Saudi pharmaceutical industry that include branding, marketing and sales, warehousing and logistics, facilities management, and regulatory compliance consultancy.
The company’s international reach demanded a new approach to technology to ensure it remained a leader in the new global digital economy. It embarked upon a bold digital transformation journey, with a robust ERP platform as the planned keystone.
“We didn’t have an ERP platform in place and relied on a paper system to manage each department’s activity,” said Tariq Kayyali, quality unit director and ERP project manager, Pharma Pharmaceuticals Industries, whose team of stakeholders focused on linking and integrating department transactions to reduce the time taken to locate vital archived data.
Errors in starting materials and the resulting mix-ups and delays in order deliveries became significant business risks to the company, pre-digitization. The risk of using incorrect or expired material in the manufacturing process was compounded by the company’s inability to accurately control all its assets and due to its tendency to produce inaccurate reports due to manual compilation.
With the support of trusted Epicor partner, Full Insight Technology Solutions (FITS), Pharma deployed a platform that was easy to install, user-intuitive, and provided tight-fit functionality with its needs. Over a period of 10 months, the system was rolled out to 15 users, who all reported ease of use and unprecedented accuracy.
Switching to Epicor ERP has allowed Pharma to smoothly link and integrate transactions across all departments and enhance accuracy in operations and inventory control. Strict audit trails now allow every critical transaction to be traced—to the user, date, and time of action—allowing Pharma to closely monitor related business impacts. Labelling problems have also been overcome, by enabling greater control over purchased and manufactured parts.
“We ended up saving about 30 percent of unnecessary warehouse-team transactions and managed to reduce the time taken to find or track historical data records or transactions, from hours or days to seconds or minutes,” said Kayyali. “We also reduced the risk of mix-up and eliminated the possibility Pharma Pharmaceuticals deploys Epicor ERP to streamline processes and optimise service delivery of using an invalid or expired part as a starting material—which is critical in the pharma industry.”
Having a validated ERP system helps us meet the expectations and compliance requirements of medicinal product agencies, both in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and around the world.”
“Remaining relevant in the digital economy is no minor feat,” added Amel Gardner, regional vice president, Middle East, Africa and India (MEAI), Epicor.
“Competitors—especially new market entrants—will not be using manual processes for critical functions. It is therefore vital that all firms digitise as much as possible. Epicor ERP will give Pharma a strong platform for growth and enable it to easily comply with granular industry requirements. The platform is designed to fit every business like a glove, delivering automation and operational enhancements that pave the way to true digital transformation.” — Tradearabia News Service
Since the first report of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Wuhan, China, it has spread to at least 100 other countries. As China initiated its response to the virus, it leaned on its strong technology sector and specifically artificial intelligence (AI), data science, and technology to track and fight the pandemic while tech leaders, including Alibaba, Baidu, Huawei and more accelerated their company’s healthcare initiatives. As a result, tech startups are integrally involved with clinicians, academics, and government entities around the world to activate technology as the virus continues to spread to many other countries. Here are 10 ways of artificial intelligence, data science, and technology are being used to manage and fight COVID-19.
1. AI to identify, track and forecast outbreaks
The better we can track the virus, the better we can fight it. By analyzing news reports, social media platforms, and government documents, AI can learn to detect an outbreak. Tracking infectious disease risks by using AI is exactly the service Canadian startup BlueDot provides. In fact, the BlueDot’s AI warned of the threat several days before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization issued their public warnings.
2. AI to help diagnose the virus
Artificial intelligence company Infervision launched a coronavirus AI solution that helps front-line healthcare workers detect and monitor the disease efficiently. Imaging departments in healthcare facilities are being taxed with the increased workload created by the virus. This solution improves the CT diagnosis speed. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba also built an AI-powered diagnosis system they claim it is 96% accurate at diagnosing the virus in seconds.
3. Process healthcare claims
It’s not only the clinical operations of healthcare systems that are being taxed but also the business and administrative divisions as they deal with the surge of patients. A blockchain platform offered by Ant Financial helps speed up claims processing and reduces the amount of face-to-face interaction between patients and hospital staff.
4. Drones deliver medical supplies
One of the safest and fastest ways to get medical supplies where they need to go during a disease outbreak is with drone delivery. Terra Drone is using its unmanned aerial vehicles to transport medical samples and quarantine material with minimal risk between Xinchang County’s disease control center and the People’s Hospital. Drones also are used to patrol public spaces, track non-compliance to quarantine mandates, and for thermal imaging.
5. Robots sterilize, deliver food and supplies and perform other tasks
Robots aren’t susceptible to the virus, so they are being deployed to complete many tasks such as cleaning and sterilizing and delivering food and medicine to reduce the amount of human-to-human contact. UVD robots from Blue Ocean Robotics use ultraviolet light to autonomously kill bacteria and viruses. In China, Pudu Technology deployed its robots that are typically used in the catering industry to more than 40 hospitals around the country.
6. Develop drugs
Google’s DeepMind division used its latest AI algorithms and its computing power to understand the proteins that might make up the virus, and published the findings to help others develop treatments. BenevolentAI uses AI systems to build drugs that can fight the world’s toughest diseases and is now helping support the efforts to treat coronavirus, the first time the company focused its product on infectious diseases. Within weeks of the outbreak, it used its predictive capabilities to propose existing drugs that might be useful.
7. Advanced fabrics offer protection
Companies such as Israeli startup Sonovia hope to arm healthcare systems and others with face masks made from their anti-pathogen, anti-bacterial fabric that relies on metal-oxide nanoparticles.
8. AI to identify non-compliance or infected individuals
While certainly a controversial use of technology and AI, China’s sophisticated surveillance system used facial recognition technology and temperature detection software from SenseTime to identify people who might have a fever and be more likely to have the virus. Similar technology powers “smart helmets” used by officials in Sichuan province to identify people with fevers. The Chinese government has also developed a monitoring system called Health Code that uses big data to identify and assess the risk of each individual based on their travel history, how much time they have spent in virus hotspots, and potential exposure to people carrying the virus. Citizens are assigned a color code (red, yellow, or green), which they can access via the popular apps WeChat or Alipay to indicate if they should be quarantined or allowed in public.
9. Chatbots to share information
Tencent operates WeChat, and people can access free online health consultation services through it. Chatbots have also been essential communication tools for service providers in the travel and tourism industry to keep travelers updated on the latest travel procedures and disruptions.
10. Supercomputers working on a coronavirus vaccine
The cloud computing resources and supercomputers of several major tech companies such as Tencent, DiDi, and Huawei are being used by researchers to fast-track the development of a cure or vaccine for the virus. The speed these systems can run calculations and model solutions is much faster than standard computer processing.
In a global pandemic such as COVID-19, technology, artificial intelligence, and data science have become critical to helping societies effectively deal with the outbreak.
With the assistance of ERP software, many manufacturers in Vietnam and China remain active during this pandemic. This solution has proved its high value during this crisis as it allows workers to work from home and connection as well as internal/external communication to continue seamlessly. Thus, it indirectly reduces the spread of the virus.
Artificial intelligence (AI) will have a significant impact on companies and their business models over the next five years—85 percent of CEOs surveyed in PwC’s 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey are convinced of this. But with only 33 percent having dipped their toe into AI for ‘limited uses’, and fewer than one in ten using it on a wide scale, the range of applications has been limited so far. However, this is soon set to change. Despite the use of AI being a distant dream for many businesses, the current maturity of intelligent technologies and the expectations of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems in particular—to support innovations—have fundamentally changed business demands.
Intelligent ERP is not based on a specific technology but on the ability of an ERP system to access a variety of technologies for intelligent functions.
ERP systems need to lose their cumbersome heritage and open up to third-party applications, in order to help businesses benefit from technological innovations more quickly. This is a demand that ERP providers and user companies must meet in equal measure, as set out in the following four expectations for AI-enabled ERP.
Expectation 1: Flexible Process for the Introduction of Intelligent Technologies
Intelligent ERP is not based on a specific technology but on the ability of an ERP system to access a variety of technologies for intelligent functions. In most companies, this starts with automating repetitive routine processes in the background. In time, other functionalities are added—such as Machine Learning and Deep Learning for error detection in production, predictive analytics for demand planning and forecasts, Natural Language Processing for Voice-controlled systems in production or in the warehouse, and learning algorithms for autonomous systems.
This approach ensures the cost-effectiveness of innovations and simplifies their acceptance in everyday work. On the role of intelligent ERP, IDC research manager, Alexandros Stratis, states, “An assistive user interface is key in enabling today‘s knowledge workers to become the digital knowledge workers of tomorrow, and though true conversational interfaces are a future goal, the quality of the interaction will improve over time, enabling flatter organizations, a fluid work environment, and goal-oriented and redefined back-office processes.”
ERP systems must, therefore, be able to integrate with innovative applications and grow according to a company’s requirements.
Expectation 2: Innovations as Scalable Web Services
Intelligent systems require a significant amount of data to identify trends, patterns, and correlations, as well as the ability to learn and draw conclusions. The IT systems required for this only make economic sense as cloud or web services. This has two positive consequences—access to intelligent technologies is open to companies of all sizes, and adoption is no longer a question of the IT budget. Technologically, however, it requires modernization of an ERP system that is based on a corresponding industry platform in the software architecture, such as Microsoft .NET, in order to access Azure’s resources seamlessly.
Having an ERP platform, which communicates within this case—Microsoft Azure makes it comparatively easy to connect a company’s own processes with Intelligent Cloud services and AI resources, such as Intelligent Edge and Cognitive services. This can provide Internet of Things (IoT) ‘Plug and Play’ capabilities—to connect IoT devices seamlessly to the Cloud— or AI functionality, such as Machine Learning for decision support or Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS). This is even possible if taking a hybrid cloud approach for on-premises ERP installations or as part of a pure Cloud ERP environment.
Expectation 3: Domain Expertise for Faster Deployment of Intelligent Systems
With a Forbes Insights survey suggesting that 44 percent of respondents from the automotive and manufacturing sectors consider AI as ‘highly important‘ to the manufacturing function in the next five years, and almost half (49 percent) stating it as ‘absolutely critical to success‘, domain expertise will be crucial to realizing this expectation.
Even though access to intelligent technologies via web services makes it easier for companies to take advantage, they are not necessarily an out-of-the-box solution for industrial use. It is important to work with a supplier that understands industry specifics, as well as the semantics of ERP data. The domain expertise of an ERP provider for certain industry requirements or functional areas is decisive for intelligent systems to reliably and quickly achieve the required optimization in processes.
Expectation 4: Significant Gains in Operating Efficiencies
The current volatile economic climate means that managers are currently concentrating on their own optimization. According to PwC’s 22nd Annual CEO Survey, 77 percent of CEOs across the globe are committed to driving revenue growth through internal measures to improve operational efficiency. Organic growth is paramount, with new markets or strategic alliances currently playing a subordinate role.
With companies setting high standards when it comes to established IT systems in terms of efficiency, the expectations and innovative advantages that ERP modernization must deliver are also great.
When planning to upgrade an existing ERP system, fundamental modernization is often considered as preparation for a higher level of automation through intelligent technologies.
The Future of Intelligent Technologies
ERP has traditionally been responsible for organizing information, generating reports, and visualizing critical real-time data via dashboards. However, today’s businesses want intelligent technologies to be able to recognize trends and patterns, make recommendations for action, take into account different interrelationships, and automate complex processes.
The degrees of freedom of modern ERP platforms—that are available as on-premise and cloud models—will help meet this demand. ERP provides current system requirements to achieve associated process improvements, at the same time as giving the prerequisites required to take steps towards the use of intelligent technologies.
Data V Tech is proud to be one of the leading ERP vendors in the Asia Pacific. We have implemented Epicor ERP for many businesses in Vietnam and China. Please feel free to contact us to find the most suitable and flexibel ERP for your business.
Like many other areas of technology, artificial intelligence and machine learning are on the verge of transforming ERP business management systems.
Yours will see some of these innovations when existing software platforms are upgraded and others rolled out in new products.
Almost every new piece of software on the market by the end of 2020 will leverage AI technology in one way or another, according to an analysis by Gartner. And by the end of 2021, 80% of all emerging technology will use machine learning as part of its functionality.
It’s obvious, then, that the next generation of centralized ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems that manage a company’s business functions from sales to human resources will benefit from these breakthroughs
The Rise of Chatbots
One of the areas that have seen the most progress in CRM customer management systems, where chatbots, which simulate conversations with humans, handle many customer queries and radically reduce waiting times for live personnel.
Chatbots are becoming ubiquitous in customer service scenarios, and the data they generate is forming the basis for new improvements.
Beyond the front end of your business, AI can also achieve considerable efficiencies within your overall ERP setup. Using the data available to your company from existing customer interactions, it can provide new opportunities for sales and marketing teams.
Artificial intelligence also makes inventory management more efficient. Some of the tasks supported by ERP function in the nexus between cash reserves and stock, and between overproduction and underproduction. The addition of AI, however, can deliver even more efficiencies, including an additional platform for analysis incorporating complex trends that can, in turn, provide your management with new capabilities in forecasting.
All this can – and should – be integrated into your ERP platform.
Fewer Storage Headaches
With more efficient inventory management, fewer issues will arise around storage capacity or compensating for unanticipated shortfalls.
Another area where AI is already making an impact in the ERP universe is its significant contribution to reducing costly manual errors. ERP has already seen higher levels of automation evolving into development over the last five years or so, but AI breakthroughs offer the potential for even further levels of automation.
Are we yet in a position for AI to manage much of your production processes without the need for human intervention? I have to answer…not yet.
But in some industries, such as auto manufacturing, increasing levels of automation have meant that artificial intelligence could have a quicker impact on ERP platforms than on others.
Artificial intelligence is poised to become a ubiquitous component in the next generation of technology applications. This includes ERP platforms.
AI will be introduced in your ERP system gradually, partly by updates and partly by new product launches.
AI will bring significant benefits to ERP platforms, drawing strategic insights from operational and customer data and making production processes far more efficient. It will also help reduce manual errors.
The technology also will bring more integration benefits, linking data from the customer relations segment of your business with the product and delivery side.