Last week, over 1,200 quality, regulatory, legal, marketing, and IT practitioners from across the globe logged in to participate in the complimentary virtual 2021 Veeva Quality & Regulatory Global Summit.
Whether you were in the live audience or are watching the sessions on demand, you’ll benefit from understanding and applying these three key summit learnings in your organization.
What Was the Veeva Summit? Who Participated?
This annual virtual summit featured more than 15 formal sessions spanning critical overarching business issues like product compliance, as well as dedicated tracks focused on Quality and HSE Management, Regulatory Compliance, and Advertising Claims Management.
Industry speakers and participants came from across business disciplines in the consumer goods, food and beverage, cosmetics, specialty chemical, and crop science industries.
Learning #1: Industry Leaders are Facing the Enormity and Complexity of Today’s Business Value Chains Head On
In today’s business environment, leaders are navigating disrupted global supply chains and an ever-expanding regulatory landscape, all while trying to keep focus on the consumer.
As Veeva SVP and General Manager Frank Defesche reflected in the opening remarks, “The consumer is demanding greater product transparency. They care not just what’s in the product they buy, but also how the manufacturing of products might be impacting the environment.”
Managing this complexity requires taking a full “Product Journey” viewpoint that extends across and beyond organizations to encompass the entire value chain. Industry leaders like Unilever, BASF, Reckitt, H&H Group, and Estee Lauder know this requires establishing visibility from raw material extraction through to the enjoyment of the product by the consumer and eventual reuse or disposal.
“Most if not all businesses today have a clear purpose, brands that stand for something,” reflected Hanno Cappon, CTO at H&H Group during the opening keynote panel. “[Leaders] should try to translate that into principles that you want to comply with, so that becomes your internal compliance.”
“Sustainability is a really good example,” Cappon continued. “If you define what your sustainability principles are - carbon neutrality or sustainable packaging or naturally sourced ingredients - these become your internal compliance standards. And that's just where you start compliance, because you still have your regulatory compliance. You also have to maintain really good quality according to your brand. This combination creates additional value for your consumer and potentially additional differentiation in the market.”
Learning #2: Keeping Pace and Achieving Your Goals Requires a “Progress Over Perfection” Mindset
Everyone knows that organizational change, even seemingly minor ones, are complex and challenging to effectively execute. But what became clear over the course of the 2021 Veeva Summit is that industry leaders aren’t letting these challenges stop them from pursuing their vision for improved product compliance, more connected value chains, and greater speed to market. The keys were finding an achievable use case to get started, and favoring making progress over endless delays and revisions pursuing unattainable ‘perfection’.
In session after session, Summit participants heard about projects where organizations partnered with Veeva experts to break down their challenges into achievable use cases that made progress towards their digital ambitions. Here’s just one example:
“We started to brainstorm with Veeva on different use cases,” shared Ahmed Maklad, Global Digital Quality Transformation Director at Unilever. ”We looked at where we could digitalize our workflows and have more data so we can make smarter decisions. And we tried to think about how we can move our team from focusing on an inspection to focusing on prevention and improvement. The certificate of analysis emerged as one of the most interesting use cases that we have.”
Learning #3: Achieving Modernization and Agility Depends on People, Processes, and Technology
We often hear industry leaders talk about the need to modernize and increase organizational agility to keep pace and stay competitive. The last 18 months have only made these corporate priorities feel more urgent. But many of the professionals Veeva talks to find it difficult to understand what achieving these goals would really mean at their organization and in their work.
These are the types of challenges that your peers wrestled with, both in panel sessions as well as roundtable discussions, at the 2021 Veeva Summit. From their work, the foundational blocks of people, processes and technology emerged as common focal points.
- People: Across several sessions, speakers emphasized the need for IT and business to form stronger, structurally-based working relationships based on mutual empathy, for encouraging openness to embrace change, and for workers across the organization to improve their digital fluency. This last point was emphasized in our session “A Masterclass in Supplier Collaboration”.
“You need your digital fluency in your organization,” advised Marc Engel, Chief Supply Chain Officer at Unilever. ”For instance, what we found is that the line between ‘white collar’ and ‘blue collar’ is actually very rapidly blurring. We're looking at our networks and configuring our supply chains for agility, and we're looking at multisource approaches rather than localization.”
- Processes: As highlighted in the previous learning related to Unilever’s certificates of analysis use case, there are many business processes that have high automation potential that would increase efficiency and accuracy. Participants were advised to intentionally step back and evaluate which processes can be improved with AI and machine learning, and prioritize them by feasibility and impact potential.
- Technology: Organizations from diverse regulated industries, including BASF, Reckitt, PMI, Unilever, and Estee Lauder, shared the importance of moving processes, data and documents to cloud-based applications and platforms. This action, already underway in most of the presenting companies, has increased global accessibility across their value chains, fostered greater collaboration within and between organizations, and unified previously disparate operations.