Zuellig Pharma is on a mission to make healthcare more accessible to all. As one of the largest healthcare service groups in Asia, they provide world-class distribution, digital and commercial services to support the growing healthcare needs in the region. Started almost a hundred years ago, Zuellig Pharma has grown to become a US$14 billion business covering 13 markets, with over 10,000 employees who serve over 350,000 medical facilities and work with over 1,000 clients, including the top 20 pharmaceutical companies in the world.
To address some of the most pressing healthcare needs in Asia and constantly innovate to develop new services, Zuellig Pharma has been focused on creating data, digital and disease management solutions to support patients with chronic conditions and help payors manage healthcare costs.
A year ago, as Zuellig Pharma began planning new digital services for its customers, the company made the decision to upgrade its legacy SAP system to the latest version capable of running SAP HANA. But because SAP HANA runs on memory capacity instead of hard disk capacity, Zuellig quickly realised the need to upgrade from an on-premise infrastructure to a cloud-based one. The true challenge in this process was to ensure a seamless transition, as any failure of Zuellig’s servers during the one to two-month upgrade process would have disrupted the work of some 13,000 employees across Asia, and rendered access to shipment tracking, sales data, and other time-sensitive data impossible.
Upgrades without the disruption
Working with technology partner T-Systems, Zuellig Pharma identified Microsoft Azure as the best option to get the most from SAP HANA. That decision was reinforced by the fact that Microsoft was on hand to provide expert support during the migration process. Overall, the migration took only two weekends, ensuring productivity powered on without a hitch.
Streamlined efficiency in the cloud
Zuellig Pharma now runs SAP HANA in a secure and managed public cloud environment while significantly downsizing its cost structure. The flexibility Azure offers enabled Zuellig Pharma to cut down hosting costs by 40 percent. This paved a clear path for the company to roll out and deploy a new generation of real-time services that will empower both internal and external productivity.
Insights on demand
Azure has helped Zuellig Pharma make the most of its data assets — various stakeholders, including customers, can now sign in to Zuellig’s system for instant insights on sales and inventory levels even as the data is kept secure. With the previous on-premise system, data would require an overnight upload, and only yield actionable insights the next morning — this translated into a one-day delay in terms of time-to-insights. With SAP HANA on Azure, clients can login and gain a real-time view of their individual sales and deliveries.
Newly accessible insights are also aiding Zuellig internally, including in warehouse optimisation efforts. “Before SAP HANA Cloud on Azure and the scalability and performance this solution gives us, we didn’t have the capacity to unlock any of that data,” said Daniel Laverick, Head of SAP & IT Solutions at Zuellig Pharma.
“With the newfound flexibility in Azure, we plan to continuously develop applications, and services that meet the ever-changing needs of our customers. Currently in the works is a mobile app that uses blockchain technology and data from SAP HANA to track and capture counterfeit products and illegal parallel imports in the region. We’ll then have even deeper levels of insight into our operations, and we know we’ll have the infrastructure in place to take advantage of it in exciting new ways,” said Maikel Zujpers, Chief Information Officer, Zuellig Pharma.
Paving the path of innovation
Freed from a legacy system and empowered by the scalability of Azure, Zuellig finds itself better positioned to focus on its mission to make healthcare more accessible, this time, powered by cloud-scale infrastructure and intelligent services.
Going forward, the company plans to ensure a secure healthcare system by combining its insights and Microsoft’s artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies to, for example, better detect counterfeit medical products that are distributed across regional markets.