- Work jointly on an activity, esp. to produce or create something
- Cooperate traitorously with an enemy
IT in Consumer Packaged Goods organizations has historically been viewed as a “necessary” investment vs. “strategic” investment and for those CPG organizations looking to leapfrog their competition – to be their customer’s (aka retailer’s) most valued supplier – they are embracing technology as a game-changing enabler. They are re-evaluating business processes in the sales and marketing organization where better access to insights enables new, different and more timely decisions in managing out-of-stocks, promotion execution, loyalty campaigns, and direct to consumer relationship initiatives. They are re-evaluating the disparate, silo’d, dis-aggregated agency consumer insights model. They are re-evaluating routine Joint Business Planning (JBP) processes – with better data and insights comes more efficient and longer-term planning opportunities. They are reevaluating demand-forecasting routines that are currently based on historical sales data vs. actual sold-thru or point-of-sale activity. And they are evaluating the possibility of new and different skill set needs within the organization to transform metrics into actionable insights (e.g. Data Scientist) – to identify trends and raise the bar on the traditional business analyst role.
Data volumes are increasing with the addition of new and different sources across the CPG organization including point-of-sale, outlet execution, syndicated, retailer loyalty platforms, and social/mobile platforms. This is leading to fundamental change in how the business views technology – as an enabler. As a must-have. As a game-changer.
A few thoughts to consider…
The IT Opportunity
IT organizations have the opportunity to step up as a strategic partner to the business. Or they can remain stuck in a hyper-structured, capital-intensive, slow-and-methodical, “we must own (aka control) technology decisions,” “must be new hardware in the data center – no cloud, no SaaS” mentality. If IT chooses option B, make no mistake the business will move forward with their own OPEX-driven investments in SaaS capabilities that will lead to even larger system disparities down the road (even while generating short-term positive business results). As in retail, the CIO and CMO roles are changing dramatically. With new methods for connecting with consumers and new data resulting from these interactions thus enabling targeted marketing and trade campaigns, the role of the CMO takes on even greater importance to the CIO. Technology is needed to support these initiatives - hence the role of the CIO as a closer business partner that enables marketing.
Connecting to Consumer
There exists a fast-developing relationship between the connected consumer and the CPG manufacturer. What is enabling this relationship? It is enabled by mobile and fueled by social connections in addition to CPG loyalty programs. CPG manufacturers are increasingly threatened by competitive, and often lower-priced private label brands and counter this surge by marketing brand quality and investing in brand experience with the consumer. Increasingly the multi-channel brand experience is requiring data-driven analytics to enable marketing decisions and the result can be more accurate targeting of specific product sets and associated promotions. CPG is as an industry moving from social “participation” to “active social engagement” (and thus listening). The objective of new and growing integrated marketing teams is to interact with the consumer throughout the product evaluation, decision and purchase process to build loyalty around brands and understand break-downs in the brand-consumer relationship (and take action quickly to address gaps). Methods for doing this range from monitoring blogs and socials networks to direct consumer engagement via loyalty platforms, consumer surveys, and new product launch campaigns.
New Life for the Analytics COE
Changing a system’s business processes (pursuing “epic” change) that are enabled by technology and insights will only be possible with the right people in the right technical and business roles within the organization. Most IT organizations lack the skills and are staffed to a “fixed hardware” support and development model. It is increasingly important to have a solid master data model and infrastructure to enable the evolving fast-moving analytic capabilities rolling out to the market. At the same time, a shared COE for analytics could be a game-changer for the CPG organization willing to collaborate across organizational silos. Imagine the possibilities of having trade, shopper, consumer, loyalty, and sales insights and analytics under one organizational umbrella? Or at least under one virtual organization with the ability to share tools, techniques, and best practices while supporting business teams.
Augmenting Social Opportunities
Have you experienced Augmented Reality?! If not, you will soon as retailers and associated technology providers are quickly evolving AR experiences in store based on your products and they need your content, your brand facts and figures, your involvement in the process of offering a differentiated experience in store. One of the most public examples of AR is one playing out in retail utilizing a full-length “TV / mirror” that allows shoppers to view themselves in different outfits without actually trying them on by standing in front of the flat screen. Other examples involve bringing cereal boxes and soda bottles to life through an iPhone or iPad bringing live, changeable, relevant, targeted video and creative content to a shopper and driving brand loyalty and engagement. These capabilities require apps and apps generate data. The by-product of these interactions is data – lots of it – and could soon play a part in CPG innovation processes and brand investment decisions. AR platforms need your product data and in return, you will receive preference, sentiment, and activity data.