“One reason why we don’t have a Silicon Valley in Pakistan is because IT firms don’t talk. They hide.” That’s how the discussion with Syed Hashim Hassan, CEO of Authentik, started. He apparently speaks from experience. Hassan had a solution to a very commonplace problem: consumers don’t know what they are consuming. Hashim wanted a tech-based solution that would allow consumers to track and trace the products they bought, making the complete supply chain for that specific product, absolutely transparent. Having a strong background in business and publishing, he identified a software company to develop the solution for him. “The result was not only were they unable to deliver, they also ran off with the idea,” explains Hashim.
What Hashim was trying to do with Authentik was simple and applicable across industries. “Authentik isn’t confined to pharmaceuticals; it can be applied to cosmetics. Because each ingredient has its own identity, the end user can be sure about what they are buying and whether it is genuine or counterfeit.”
So if you had a way to tell your users the product you are selling is genuine, why wouldn’t you? In certain sectors, regulatory compliance has a big role to play in making this decision for businesses. For example, pharmaceuticals in the EU had a deadline to serialize all their products before the 29th of February, 2018. But if companies are sticking barcodes for logistical purposes enabling them to track shipments, having a little more intelligent, meaningful data within those codes makes sense. Think of it as a blockchain for the manufacturing sector, where each of your products had a unique identifier allowing customers to ‘click and trace’ each component within the product.
Companies install software and a hardware through which products are tagged with codes. The software generates the code from the unique on-premise hardware. The code contains confidential data that is unique to that company. A complete top to bottom access control needs to be put in place to supervise the whole process. An element of this code then becomes part of a database users can tally against. Once the product goes out into the market, the user can scan it with the app. In case a code has been scanned previously, the app will let the user know.
There is a lot of data that this code can potentially capture. Manufacturers can gain access and earn insights into business intelligence, track geographical location and be proactive to the smuggling of goods from one city to another or even one site to another. So why would companies hesitate in having a solution like this onboard? “One possible reason is the cost factor. Second is the perhaps readiness for complete transparency,” suggests Hashim. The cost, however, isn’t very high to implement the idea. An estimated $3 to $5 for 2500 units is what the CEO claims the cost add-on to be. “The bigger concern manufacturers have is that the app can expose faults in the supply chain and may reveal assets for tax application which may have otherwise been hidden.”
For the rest of the discussion, watch the episode of TNS Strategy and follow along with the discussion.