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Want 360-degree protection for your supply chain and brand? Use HPE GPAS


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By Peter Gadd, Director of WW Cloud Services, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Software Services


I travel around the globe helping companies protect their brands from counterfeiters. It’s a serious business: Counterfeit goods account for 5-7% of the world’s trade and cost companies hundreds of billions of dollars annually. A fake product can not only harm your customers, but also badly damage your business’s reputation.

After years of doing this, I can tell you that most companies are approaching brand protection without a holistic view. They focus their time and efforts mainly on legal IP issues by shutting down counterfeit websites that pop up—which often ends up being an endless game of whack-a-mole. If you truly want to protect your brand, you have to take a “Brand 360” approach. It is absolutely relevant to close down counterfeit websites.  However, it is imperative that you also turn your attention to physical brand protection aspects like packaging, labeling, enabling workers in the supply chain to identify a product’s authenticity, and educating consumers so they know that what they’re purchasing is genuine.

This holistic, 360-degree view wasn’t easy—or even possible—in the past. But nowadays, Big Data capabilities make such solutions achievable.


Data’s journey through the supply chain

HPE Global Product Authentication Service (GPAS) has been helping businesses take a Brand 360 approach for a few years now. As I’ve written about before, GPAS allows enterprises to quickly and securely generate unique QR codes that can be used to label products. Customers can then verify the authenticity of a product by scanning the code with a smartphone.

Every interaction with GPAS creates large volumes of data, from the point of manufacture to the point of sale. By harnessing the vast amount of data that follows transactions through the supply chain, GPAS allows companies to react to counterfeit problems in real time, effectively quashing issues at their root and enabling companies to interact directly with their consumers.  But how exactly does GPAS data provide value that can translate to better business intelligence and analytics capabilities?

I’ll give you an example: One of our clients is a large global food manufacturer whose infant formula was often counterfeited. With GPAS, after the formula is packaged it is given a unique code that is applied to the product, scanned and recorded. One can of formula can be scanned at several places on its journey to the grocery store shelf:

  • When it enters the manufacturing warehouse
  • When it leaves the warehouse and is transported to Distributor A
  • When it is received by Distributor A
  • When it is sent to and received by Distributor B
  • When it reaches the retailer

Customers also have the ability to scan the product for themselves—and every time that happens, the global food manufacturer is receiving data.


A Big Data weapon against counterfeiters

But what to do with all of this real-time data? If a counterfeiter puts a genuine GPAS product code on a fake product that a consumer scans, the consumer will get an immediate response back saying that the product isn’t genuine because this code was scanned in the wrong location or has been scanned before. That information will then get sent back to the company. If a pattern starts to emerge that a particular code is being put on a range of products, a business can then start to mesh that data and map the parallel counterfeit supply chain. In fact, that’s what HP did when GPAS helped identify a factory’s location in Saudi Arabia that was producing $72 million worth of fake HP ink and toner cartridges.  

With this information, GPAS creates what I call situational awareness, where you can see problems occurring and react to them in real time. The food manufacturer I mentioned earlier is being proactive about curbing counterfeit activity and ensuring control of their supply chain.  They have plans for a “war room,” where three massive GPAS data monitors detect counterfeit activity, identify grey market activity, and highlight supply chain components.

With most competitor’s capabilities, you might not find out about a counterfeit problem until several months later. Unfortunately, however, at that point you’ve already lost—the brand damage has been done, and it’s too late to do anything about it.


Using consumer sentiment and social media to track counterfeiting

GPAS analytics allows companies to get really clever by taking the data they’ve created at the business intelligence level and then using an analytics platform—like the HPE Big Data platform—to merge GPAS data with a variety of other third party data, such as Twitter and Facebook feeds, cybersecurity analytics, or weather.

Why combine these types of data? One reason is because you can then track consumer sentiment for your brand in a specific location—particularly if a counterfeit problem has already been identified there—and see what people are saying about your brand on their social channels. Then you can begin doing something about it right away. In other words, you’re actively protecting your brand in real time by doing more than just shutting down websites selling fakes. You’re now essentially engaging in brand monitoring, social listening, brand protection analytics, and even supply chain analytics all in one—a true “Brand 360” approach.

To learn more, visit the HPE GPAS website.


Peter Gadd is Director, WW Cloud Services at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Software Services. Follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.


Related links:

HPE Global Protection Authentication Service (GPAS)

Blog: How anti-counterfeiting and authentication can help you revolutionize your supply chain

Blog: Moving toward an infinitely safer food and drug supply chain

Blog: The Big Data solution that protects your customers, your brand, and your bottom line

Video: Protect customers with product authentication



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