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Managing Complexity with a Control Tower

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Published: March 16, 2023

Supply chain risk management is a top priority in the pharmaceutical industry due to the life-saving or life-extending nature of many of its products.

Historically, one of the chief drivers of risk in the industry has been its highly-complex global supply chain that involves an intricate supplier network, varying governmental regulations, and groundbreaking new treatments.

Recent planning technology advancements, however, have made significant inroads in the ability to digitally model the end-to-end pharmaceutical supply chain. This advancement has led to the creation of a digital risk-sensing and response system known as a Supply Chain Control Tower. This system leverages real-time data and advanced analytics to proactively detect supply chain risks and develop effective mitigation plans.

We’ve identified three areas where Supply Chain Control Towers help pharmaceutical companies manage network complexity and risk:

1. End-to-End Network Visibility

The healthcare industry’s strict regulatory governance mixed with increased supply and demand volatility has made it crucial for pharmaceutical companies to have a holistic view of their supply chain. A Supply Chain Control Tower leverages a digital twin, or a virtual model of the end-to-end supply chain, to provide real-time visibility into operations, from raw materials procurement to delivery of finished products to customers. 

2. Risk Detection

With increased network visibility comes the ability to identify and address issues more quickly. A Control Tower uses machine learning to recognize patterns in data from within the enterprise, such as historical sales data, but also beyond it from sources like weather data, disease events such as influenza, competitors, and regulatory and policy changes. This pattern recognition forms the basis of less biased, more accurate predictions of supply chain risks.

3. Decision Support

Control Towers then proactively generate data-driven resolution or mitigation plans for each risk, with visibility into the trade-offs for each decision, saving planners time and freeing them up to focus on high-level strategic decisions. After each decision is executed, Control Towers learn from the outcome to optimize for future decisions.


The pharmaceutical industry faces unique complexity challenges in managing supply chain risk. The stakes are higher, too. A Supply Chain Control Tower is one lever organizations can pull to help mitigate these risks by effectively translating data into decisions. By utilizing this technology, companies can be better positioned to manage risk in an industry where every decision potentially has life-or-death consequences.

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