How is U.S. pharmaceuticals wholesaler AmerisourceBergen connected to a government economics minister and a McKinsey partner? Through the SAP Innovation Awards! AmerisourceBergen was selected as the 2021 Industry Leader award winner.

SAP recently announced the 2021 SAP Innovation Awards winners, celebrating the amazing achievements of forward-thinking companies and individuals using innovation to solve complex challenges and serve the greater good.

The judging panel this year was expanded to include Brigitte Zypries, former Minister for Economics and Energy for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Chandra Gnanasambandam, senior partner at McKinsey & Company, Inc.

Despite the amount of business disruption many industries faced in 2020, SAP accepted 44% more award submissions than the year prior. As a result, the judging team spent the last two months carefully analyzing 376 submissions from across 27 vertical categories ranging from high tech to wholesale distribution. Submissions were then narrowed to a list of 70 finalists representing seven categories of innovation excellence: Social Catalyst, Industry Leader, Transformation Champion, Business Innovator, Cloud Genius, Adoption Superhero, and Partner Paragon. See the 70 finalist stories here.

What It Means to Be an Industry Leader

The Industry Leader award is the category focused on broad, cross-organizational and even cross-industry digital transformation and industry-leading business practices. Specifically, SAP believes that industry leaders are integrated enterprises that use data to feed their intelligence. With this data-driven intelligence, organizations gain the ability to understand and act on their customer, partner, and employee sentiment, and how to manage their environmental impact — to grow more resilient, more profitable, and more sustainable.

Industry leaders recognized within this award category are well on their way to becoming intelligent enterprises, meaning they:

  • Run integrated business processes across finance, manufacturing, sales, supply chain
  • Leverage advanced technologies, such as machine learning and the Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Optimize processes based on real-time insight and analytics
  • Apply industry best practices
  • Build flexible value chains
  • Act on customer, partner, and employee sentiment
  • Continuously improve environmental impact

New for 2021, Specialist External Judges for the Industry Leader Category

For the highest level of innovation analysis in determining the Industry Leader award finalists and winner, SAP enlisted the expertise of two highly accomplished and experienced judges from vastly different regions and backgrounds.

The former Minister for Economics and Energy for German Chancellor Merkel, Zypries is a German lawyer and politician of the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Between 2017 and 2018, she served as Minister for Economics and Energy; she was the first woman to hold that office in German history.  Zypries had previously been Parliamentary State Secretary since December 2013, charged with the coordination of Germany’s aviation and space policies. She was also Federal Minister of Justice of Germany from 2002 to 2009 and State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Interior from 1998 to 2002.  Zypries passionately supports girls and women in business and technology.

As senior partner at McKinsey & Company, Inc., Gnanasambandam co-leads McKinsey’s Global Software, Hardware, and Services practices. Gnanasambandam was also the co-founder of Fuel, McKinsey’s practice that works with startups and the investor ecosystem. Gnanasambandam focuses on serving some of the world’s large cloud software companies on topics related to product and go-to-market transformations. Before McKinsey, Gnanasambandam held several operating roles at BEA Systems and Sun Microsystems. Gnanasambandam has graduate engineering degrees from Georgia Tech and the University of Saskatchewan in Canada.

In addition to  Zypries and Gnanasambandam, Peter Maier, president of Industries and Customer Advisory at SAP, and Helen Dwight, head of Industries Marketing at SAP, filled out the esteemed panel of judges to pick the Industry Leader award winner. Judges reviewed detailed information about each nomination and engaged in a lively discussion before selecting the award category’s finalists and winner.

Drum Roll, Please… AmerisourceBergen Recognized as an Industry Leader

Out of the many inspiring and often astonishing achievements, AmerisourceBergen Corporation was awarded the Industry Leader award for its work safeguarding the U.S. drug supply with SAP Advanced Track and Trace for Pharmaceutical and SAP Information Collaboration Hub for Life Sciences.

Leading global healthcare company AmerisourceBergen makes a positive impact on the health of people and communities around the world by advancing the development and delivery of pharmaceuticals and healthcare products. With a foundation in pharmaceutical distribution and solutions for manufacturers, pharmacies, and providers, the company creates unparalleled access, efficiency, and reliability for human and animal health.

In 2013, the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) was passed to protect the safety and security of the supply chain, with implementation beginning in 2015. According to the World Health Organization, by 2017 the counterfeit drug market in developing countries grew to US$30 billion and caused thousands of deaths.

To protect the U.S. market, AmerisourceBergen worked with SAP to pursue the greenfield development of SAP Advanced Track and Trace for Pharmaceuticals to better manage the drug supply chain for millions of daily shipments across thousands of companies. SAP and AmerisourceBergen also collaborated on the SAP Information Collaboration Hub for Life Sciences to meet the messaging regulations for AmerisourceBergen and its thousands of trading partners. As a result of this innovation, over 100 companies are using SAP Advanced Track and Trace for Pharmaceuticals today. Learn more about AmerisourceBergen’s innovation story.

The four Industry Leader category judges were extremely impressed with the scope of the challenge that AmerisourceBergen tackled, as well as the complementing impact that the resolution had on humanity and industry as a whole.

“AmerisourceBergen is impressive concerning its ability to innovate in such a complex environment while simultaneously recognizing such strong societal benefits,” Gnanasambandam commented. “Excelling at track and trace in any environment is very difficult, but to make matters more complex, AmerisourceBergen has an especially massive and complicated network. The company was able to not only integrate the complex business processes inside of AmerisourceBergen but also across multiple companies in the value chain within the context of the pandemic.”

Zypries shared, “I was especially impressed at AmerisourceBergen’s outcomes given how complicated the U.S. is with respect to handling drugs appropriately and safely.”

“What is truly innovative is how AmerisourceBergen and its business partners embraced the broader, extended network,” Maier said. “This interconnected approach driven by Jeff Denton and team is the only way to track inventory, fight drug counterfeiting, and keep people safe and healthy.“

Dwight was impressed by the company’s “clear passion to do business with a purpose,” she said. “Through a high level of supply chain integrity, the company has dramatically improved the health and well-being of people, animals, and the planet.”

What’s Next for the Winners

To celebrate AmerisourceBergen and the other award category winners, each company will receive a trophy, direct a US$1,000 donation to charity, take part in an exclusive celebratory awards ceremony, and are, of course, entitled to full bragging rights. SAP is thrilled to showcase these inspirational customer and partner stories that involve using SAP solutions and business technology platform to differentiate themselves, achieve tremendous results, and adapt to dynamic customer needs.

To stay up to date on the latest innovations that are disrupting your industry, follow #SAPInnovation.

Want to learn more?

Jennifer Scholze is senior director of Global Industry Marketing at SAP.