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Digital Transformation – Disrupting Industries and Personalized Pharmaceuticals

How did I get here, at all? In 1952, my father founded the first offset printing pre-press service bureau in Jerusalem, Israel. He was a pioneer and over 3 decades built a nice business, that was entirely based on traditional, analogue, optical technologies, plus tons of know-how and human skills. In 1982, following my military service, I joined the family business, in parallel to my academic studies. I was fascinated by the business, but unaware of the digital revolution that was about to disrupt my

professional life. I trained myself to become a master in mechanical/optical halftone screening reprography (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halftone) and color reproduction. I was aware of what Scitex, Adobe and Apple did in the field, and invested heavily in new digital technologies, in the early 1990s. However, I did not see that human skills, the most important asset my company had, entirely lost its value. The new technology now allowed unskilled people to do the pre-press work and turned my family’s business into a redundant link in the supply and value chain. So, in 1999, I had no choice, but to close the 48 years old, highly reputed, family business. As a young man with a family to support, I decided, that having had my business so thoroughly disrupted, I should take my experience, and join the “disrupting bustards”. Since 2000, I served in different roles with companies, that digitalized analogue industries as well as invented entirely new digital segments.


Since then, printing in general, and even digital printing, was heavily disrupted by digital solutions, leveraging on the fact, that most of the content became available digitally, allowing people to consume previously printed content, digitally. Apple’s iTunes and then Spotify completely changed the way people consume music, while changing the entire industry’s business models and value and supply chains (we enjoy so much getting any music we want on the spot for very low prices, and keep whining about how we miss the joy of buying a record at a records shop). Netflix, Apple TV, HBO and Disney changed the way we consume our video contents at home and made video libraries a remote memory.


The combination of so much digital content available (most of the content is now digitally produced, while relevant older analogue content is being digitalized), and that communication is so fast, easy and (hopefully) secure, allow us to consume products and services online. Data driven commercial and manufacturing streams, open for new and exciting possibilities. Processes and productsthat were entirely controlled by brands and professionals, can now be influenced by consumers.



I will try to demonstrate the above on how the pharmaceutical industry will, most probably, go through a digital transformation. Historically, the pharmaceutical industry was dominated by pharmacists in their communities. They formulated medications in their labs. As part of the industrial revolution, some pharmacies and small chemical companies grew, and started manufacturing medications in an industrial environment, selling off the shelf products to pharmacies, that by then

transformed into retail businesses.


There is a bright new horizon for pharmacists, and they are about to experience a renaissance. Factory made medications, are basically, statistic formulations made to help a generic patient, and thus, they help some while damaging others. Mass production does not address personalized drugs. This is being partially mitigated, by varying the medication volume, based on patient’s unique characteristics. To many issues won’t be mitigated in this manner.

It is known today that each person’s genetic profile determines how this person will respond to a certain medication. Pharmacogenomics (https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/genomicresearch/pharmacogenomics#:~:text=Pharmacogenomics%20is%20the%20study%20of,to%20a%20person's%20genetic%20makeup.) is the study of this. By By Applying a patient’s genetic profile, to a generic formulation, will optimize the effect of the medication on that patient. In certain cases, this optimization can mean a difference between recovery, or death.


Today’s pharmaceutical companies, cannot do it.

Let’s then bring the pharmacy back into the game, as an endpoint supplier of personalized medications in the community. Now, the physician will upload a prescription to a cloud application, a prescription that will meet there with the patient’s genetic profile, thus creating a personalized formulation. At the local pharmacy, using a mixing machine, the personal prescription and raw materials supplied by the pharmaceutical company, a personalized medication will be prepared.


By leveraging available data, communication and calculation power, using cloud-based platforms and advanced distributed manufacturing capabilities, we can significantly improve the way medications help patients recover, and add significant value to the entire segment.

To start-up a new exciting company that will disrupt an industry, one needs to explore non-digital supply chains and workflows to find out how data, communications and computing power can improve the process significantly. Some call this Industry 4.0.

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