Contrary to popular belief, implementing a strategy isn't always the major business hurdle to overcome within an organization. Getting people to follow the strategy is where the primary obstacle really exists. That's why Consumer Goods Technology publishes a list of 25 Consumer Goods Visionaries (formerly the 25 Most Influential) every year. This year's execs are not only responsible for spearheading incredible strategies but making sure those strategies reach their full potential as well. Following the Visionaries section are "Thought Leadership Perspectives" from today's top technology visionaries. Be sure to check out the different perspectives and solutions they offer that cater to current industry needs.
Brenda Barnes President and CEO, Sara Lee
On February 10, 2005, Chief Operating Officer Brenda Barnes was appointed as Sara Lee Corporation's CEO, replacing C. Steven McMillan, who stepped down to make way for Barnes' more experienced and aggressive operating style. Barnes plan calls for concentrating operations and capital on brands that the company believes are better positioned to grow. The company is currently restructuring its five businesses into three -- North American Foodservice, North American Retail and Sara Lee International -- to be completed by the beginning of its 2006 fiscal year. The move also involves spinning off its $4.5 billion Branded Apparel group (consisting of Hanes and Champion brands) to be an independent, publicly traded company. "Under our transformation plan, we will concentrate our financial and management resources on a smaller number of business segments where we are well-positioned for substantial growth," says Barnes.
David Newman, Vice President, Insights, Go To Market Team, PepsiCo
David Newman helped PepsiCo design an analytics tool using granular information generated from IRI's syndicated POS data and Consumer Network household panel to analyze weekly retail ad feature circulars to improve sales, profit and overall consumer traffic. Newman believes a great opportunity exists to improve the effectiveness of circulars by better leveraging consumer and shopper data. "How do we take an enormous amount of complex data and derive simplified solutions that quickly drive increased consumer value?," asks Newman. "The real difference has become the scope of the defined problem. The ability to mine ever increasing quantities of data has led us to progress from gondola optimization to aisle to total store optimization, from promotional item lift to consumer reach to total ad optimization, from core or secondary consumer analysis to lifestyle shopper segmentation."
Donagh Herlihy, CIO, WM. Wrigley Jr. Company
The IT infrastructure at Wrigley plays an important role in supporting the company's mission to weave Wrigley brands into the fabric of everyday life around the world, according to Donagh Herlihy. The company recently completed the implementation of its global ERP system. "Now our operations in more than 50 countries are linked and enabled by a single instance of SAP," says Herlihy. Delivering consumer relevant innovations into the marketplace and ensuring they are always available is top of mind at Wrigley. This requires consumer insights integrated with R&D capabilities. "In every function, good data when turned into information and insights drives good business decisions," says Herlihy. "We compete in a world where superior information is a vital part of being a winner. And the role of IT is to act as chief integrator, across functions and across geographies, not an easy role but very fulfilling. When we do it well, performance of the whole enterprise is optimized."
Dick Cantwell, Vice President, Global Value Chain, EPC & Retail Availability, The Gillette Company
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a big deal at the Gillette Company. Steering the company's RFID vision is Dick Cantwell, who believes that RFID and the Electronic Product Code (EPC) are "transformational technologies" that enable business process change across the supply chain through better visibility of inventory and close collaboration among trading partners. EPC can significantly improve on-shelf product availability, which will enhance consumer satisfaction and increase revenue for both retailers and manufacturers. To establish a business case for RFID, Cantwell says it is a wise idea to first launch the technology and learn from the experience. "Early results from our implementation in 2005 are promising and help prove our business case. As an industry, if we focus on the collaborative benefits and process improvement, we will succeed together."
George Jackman, Director of Customer Marketing, Welch Foods
Welch's vision is simple: To be the best organization in the markets and categories where it competes. Certainly, this type of lofty aspiration comes with a lot of ramifications, but George Jackman says Welch's interacts as well or better with its customers than any other company by bringing more value, consistency and sophisticated business processes to the table. According to Jackman, topping the long list of challenges facing the CG industry in the immediate future is the ability to drive sustained profitable growth. "Fragmentation of consumer spending across an increasingly broad and saturated retail universe, decreased overall shopping trips, an increasingly value conscious consumer and the inability to pass along escalating costs have created significant challenges. As both retailers and manufacturers vie for the limited space in the marketplace, it will be those that work creatively together to achieve profitable growth that succeed."
Keith Harrison, Global Product Supply Officer, Procter & Gamble
Keith Harrison is top logistician responsible for moving more than 250 Procter & Gamble (P&G) products to five billion consumers in 130 countries. It's an enormous undertaking, but one that Harrison has been doing successfully for two of his past 30 years with P&G. "From the viewpoint of the CPG supply system, the biggest challenge is meeting retailers' growing need for business-building differentiation while continuing to control cost, cash and complexity," says Harrison. "Procter & Gamble is building new capabilities into our supply network to create joint value for our customers, consumers and our company. This requires physical, IT and especially organizational changes. P&G's global Product Supply employees are focused on the moment of truth when consumers are at the store shelf choosing our product. When you view the supply network this way, you can better meet these challenges."
Mary Kay Razminas, Director of Business Analysis, Flowers Foods
Every minute counts in the bakery business to ensure that fresh baked goods get to the right stores in a timely manner. Flowers Foods needed to find a way to reduce the product that it did not sell before it was out of code. Mary Kay Razminas was instrumental in deploying a business intelligence solution from Business Objects that enables the company to evaluate hundreds of products sold at 70,000 locations and identify exact products sold at exact locations in too large or sparse quantities. Under Razminas' direction, Business Objects is now a key ingredient in Flowers Food's strategy to maintain its competitive edge. "A number of major initiatives are underway in the consumer goods industry, chief among them RFID, product traceability and product innovation," says Razminas. "The challenge to consumer goods companies is how to best leverage the new data generated from these initiatives so we can continue to exceed our customers' expectations and maintain our operational excellence while at the same time find new ways to lower costs and increase profits."
Chris Shepherd, Senior Category Development Manager, H.J. Heinz Company
Chris Shepherd heads up Heinz' Wal-Mart Category Management/Advisory Team and oversees the direction of the company's Global Wal-Mart consumption database. "Although the project was initiated and implemented over four years ago, the system is constantly changing, upgrading and improving," says Shepherd. "It is certainly exciting to be able to provide the tools our end users need to run their business, but even more exciting is when we can quickly adapt/adjust/create/implement new requirements our users come up with on a regular basis." Previously with SC Johnson Wax, Shepherd spent three years in Brazil pioneering innovative Category Management/Fact Base Selling initiatives with leading retailers, an experience that no doubt forms his top of mind challenge for next year: "Leveraging ones current technology investments made over the past few years into other business areas as well as leveraging these investments to strengthen customer relationships while improving bottom line result."
Edwin Matthews, Director, IS, Pacific Cycle
Edwin Matthews' career at Pacific Cycle touts a long list of IT successes. Following a 2001 acquisition, Matthews implemented an ERP system from SAP to eliminate the need to support multiple systems. The following year, Matthews incorporated newly acquired Schwinn Bicycle data into the ERP system within 15 days. Add to that a Business Warehouse implementation; the automated transfer of data to UCCnet; and an RFID project that keeps Pacific Cycle compliant with key customers. "Over the past couple of years the consumer goods industry has had many challenges to contend with: a worldwide economy, larger retailers, transportation and distribution challenges, new customer mandates, additional government mandates and a variety of technology changes," says Matthews. "The biggest challenge facing the consumer goods industry next year will be keeping pace with these changes and still finding ways to introduce new products that will delight consumers."
Michael Mastroianni, VP, North American Planning & Operations Support, Campbell Soup Company
According to Michael Mastroianni, the consumer goods industry will struggle to cost effectively deal with increased service expectations, shorter product lifecycles, reduced customer inventories, rapid replenishment initiatives and seven-day shipping. "The resulting impact will challenge the industry in improving overall return on invested capital," he says. "Winners will retrofit their supply chains, improve business processes and enhance technologies to adapt to these changes." Case in point: Due to the Campbell Soup Company's increased emphasis on reducing manufacturing costs, Mastroianni searched for a solution that would manage the entire supply/manufacturing/distribution network and shift from a plant focus to a customer focus. Mastroianni implemented Manugistics Network Optimization solution using network mathematical models developed by Terra Technology to produce a cost plan that simultaneously takes into account production, shipments, inventory, utilization, storage, overtime and costs. By optimizing the entire network, Mastroianni says Campbell reaps millions of dollars in benefits annually.
Victor Nuila, Vice President of Logistics, LG Electronics U.S.A.
After consistently experiencing explosive growth in the United States, LG Electronics U.S.A. sought the right supply chain solutions provider to enable improved efficiency and customer service. In April, Victor Nuila selected Ryder to design and manage LG's U.S. consumer electronics and home appliance product warehousing, transportation and outbound delivery network. The partnership will enable LG management to focus on their core product, technology and marketing strengths, while enhancing customer service and improving speed to market. As LG's resident logistics guru, Nuila says mitigating the impact of commodity cost increases on the supply chain will present a challenge into 2006. "The transportation industry will continue to experience tight capacity constraints along with soaring oil prices," says Nuila. "Therefore, our ability to leverage best practices and process improvement tools in order to achieve lowest total delivered cost and reduce spend during inflationary times will be extremely critical."
Eric Anthony, Chief Technology Officer, VF Corporation
Named the Chief Technology Officer in February 2005, Eric Anthony is responsible for VF Corporation's global IT infrastructure. Anthony has recently been involved in: Executive sponsor of RFID Compliance for all VF Coalitions; negotiating the outsourcing of information technology services of VF; integrating the IT infrastructures from VF Acquisitions within 90 days of acquisition; and strategy development to improve VF's "speed to market" capabilities. And even with 20 years of experience at VF under his belt, RFID keeps Anthony awake at night. "Item Level tagging will present the biggest challenges over the next several years," says Anthony. "There are technology issues such as what frequency will work best, increasing read reliability and reducing tag costs. There are social issues relating to privacy and public acceptance. Once these issues are resolved, the technology must be integrated into the supply chain as far back as possible requiring rethinking and reengineering of the entire process. The potential benefits make these challenges worthwhile."
Al Hermsen, Director Customer Marketing, Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages
Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages (CSAB) utilized Interactive Edge's BPS - interactive customer marketing tool to launch its 2005 Retail Selling Platform. Al Hermsen set the vision and strategy for this initiative, and actively engaged CSAB brand teams (Dr Pepper, 7 UP, Snapple, Mott's) to support it. "The greatest challenge facing the consumer goods industry is utilizing account specific data, such as segmentation studies and loyalty card information, to determine loyal and super loyal shoppers," says Hermsen. "Companies must develop consumer-centric solutions based on consumer insights and market brands directly to shoppers that represent the greatest ROI. It's all about taking an unbiased approach to growing total category business." With a strong focus on customer marketing, CSAB's Retail Selling Platform has enabled the sales force to create and deliver account-specific programs and initiatives to retail customers.
Sales can utilize key account insights to match retail consumers with CSAB loyal consumers and build account strategic business plans.
Christopher Hogan, Chief Technology Officer, Kraft Sales Division
For Christopher Hogan, the customer comes first as he is responsible for strategy, design and implementation of the company's category management and shopper insight initiatives. This includes identifying compelling shopper insights in the retail environment, developing leading-edge information applications to identify business building opportunities and strategic leadership of customer insight initiatives. As the retail environment continues to undergo dramatic change, Hogan says the key to growth is not just understanding and reaching national consumers but understanding and reaching retailers' own shoppers. "What prompts shoppers to choose a particular store, walk down an aisle and make a choice off the shelf?," asks Hogan. " By understanding the shoppers' perspective of the retail experience, we can share these insights and collaborate with our retail partners to create customized marketing plans that reflect the unique composition, behavior and needs of a retailer's shoppers."
Joe Bourland, VP, Category Development and Sales Technology, ConAgra Foods
According to Joe Bourland, maintaining and growing consumer loyalty in a world of choices is the biggest challenge facing the consumer goods industry today and into the future. "We see it everyday with our retail grocery customers that face increasing pressure from value retailers, club stores, convenience stores, even restaurants," says Bourland. "ConAgra Foods leverages research and technology to develop fact-based merchandising strategies and programs for specific shopper groups to increase loyalty and profitable sales for our retail customers and ConAgra Foods brands." Under Bourland's guidance, ConAgra Foods is now using a single data warehouse and automatically generating standard presentations and analysis across every retailer and production group, saving countless dollars each day and freeing resources for strategic initiatives.
Timothy P. Smucker, Chairman and CEO, The J.M. Smucker Company
According to Timothy Smucker, technological advancements have made the world a much smaller place than it was when his great grandfather sold his first jar of apple butter from the back of a horse-drawn wagon. The J.M. Smucker Company has grown immensely since its beginnings in 1897. Last year, J.M Smucker Company expanded its family of products across the United States and Canada to include such brands as Pillsbury baking mixes and ready-to-spread frostings; Hungry Jack pancake mixes, syrups and potato side dishes; Martha White baking mixes and ingredients; Robin Hood flour and baking mixes; and Bick's pickles and condiments. "The only way this new, global web of interdependent commerce will continue to run efficiently is through the application of standards based on global business needs," says Smucker. "Our objective is to serve multiple business sectors across the globe with standards, solutions and services that transcend global barriers."
Don Taylor CIO, Perdue Farms
At Perdue, it might take a tough man to make a tender chicken but it takes a tougher man to run the company's IT department. That might explain why Don Taylor has been with Perdue for 20 years, holding the top IT job since 1994. Prior to joining Perdue, Taylor served time at Occidental Petroleum, Armco Steel, Dresser Industries and NASA. From the late 1990's to the present, Don has led Perdue's investment in technology to radically reshape the company's supply chain infrastructure and provide unparalleled service in its industry. The introduction of products like Manugistics for demand and supply planning has helped make Perdue's supply chain and customer service a selling and marketing advantage. Using Manugistic's forecasting software and supply chain planning tools, Perdue has become more adept at delivering the right number of turkeys to the right customers at the right time, says Taylor.
Howard Stockdale CIO, Beaver Street Fisheries
Howard Stockdale is a firm believer that implementing both new and not-so-new supply chain technologies together will enable CPG companies to glean benefits in efficiency, error reduction, velocity, visibility and increased automation. This is one reason why Beaver Street Fisheries, a $500-million frozen fish importer, proactively explored RFID not long after Wal-Mart's RFID mandate was announced. The small company began shipping RFID-tagged cases and pallets to Wal-Mart in November 2004 - one year and one month ahead of its January 2006 deadline. Today, Stockdale is focused on gaining RFID return on investment through integration. "From broader deployments of EDI to data synchronization and now RFID we look to streamline the supply chain and make all of our businesses more efficient, agile and profitable," says Stockdale.
Alan Harris CMO, Kellogg
Diving into the uncharted waters of product innovation might be a seductive proposition for many, but Alan Harris has discovered that the opposite is true. "The closer we can get to our business, the better," says Harris. "You get great ideas and there's less complexity and unfamiliarity and our ability to execute gets a lot better." By following this "close to home" philosophy, Harris has helped rebuild Kellogg's dominance in the ready-to-eat cereal market. Harris says cereal responds well to promotions and new ideas but the alchemy has to be pitch-perfect, which explains the success behind the company's $250-million brand extension, Special K with Berries. "Every consumer goods company is pursuing growth. As such, effective innovation represents one of the greatest challenges. To be truly effective you need to be able to create and execute great new ideas, while protecting and developing the core business at the same time. Loss of focus is a killer. Whereas the ability to retain focus, while expanding a business -- that's a real driver of success."
John Herbert, VP Worldwide Home Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox
The Home Video industry is getting more sophisticated with its retailers every day. Currently, John Herbert is leading Twentieth Century Fox in the adoption of the proper front and back-office Information technology infrastructure to develop a competitive advantage. Herbert credits his information technology team collaborating with its internal business counterparts for developing Fox's "I.T. Roadmap". Under Herbert's leadership, this team made Fox an early adopter and innovator of industry leading practices. "The biggest challenge facing the Home Video industry will be focusing on and supporting our retail customers as our category grows dramatically and our customers globally," says Herbert. "This requires close collaboration with retailers, including data/system integration. Partnering with Mike Dunn, Home Entertainment President, and Fox consultant Marc Shingles, my team and I have focused on understanding these business needs and developed an I.T. framework to support customers in the growth years to come."
Sue Quillin, VP, Build the Business, Tyson Foods
Tyson Foods is undergoing a major business process redesign with supporting technology to market to its customers and consumers. As vice president of Build the Business (generate demand and order to cash process areas), Sue Quillin plays an instrumental role in the effort to leverage Tyson's brand position and grow the business incrementally. She overseas an enterprise-wide project that defines common business processes and implements them with supporting technology. The project at large includes the elimination of manual processes, spreadsheet technology and a complete address of skills training and education. It crossed the entire breadth of the supply chain, including demand planning, analytics, TPM, logistics and market planning. In her previous post as vice president of Retail Fresh and Frozen Consumer Marketing, Quillin is credited with leading and implementing innovative projects such as the launch of the first consumer Web site for Tyson, consolidated brand strategy and masterbrand implementation.
DAVID MINSTER, SVP Operations & CIO, DAVID YURMAN
While undergoing the chaotic disruptions associated with a company re-location, David Minster remained focused and tackled a highly complex and challenging full-suite ERP implementation. Upon successful completion, Minster initiated an application management service (AMS) agreement to ensure continued success and maximum utilization of resources and systems. When asked what the biggest challenge facing the CG industry will be next year, Minster answered: Global execution, outsourcing and off shoring, and passion and commitment to becoming world class. "These embody the need and drive to create intra- and inter- organizational transparency," says Minster. "This will enable linked business processes and cross organizational planning and partnership in a trusted and secure environment. Managing at that intersection of functionality, maintainability, security and now compliance in a highly cost sensitive industry will be a major challenge for the coming year -- and few that have built it, have it right."
RAVI PARMESWAR, Vice President of the Knowledge and Insights Department, Coca-Cola North America
The longevity and appeal of Coca-Cola can be directly attributed to the close connections the company has established with its loyal consumers. But how can an enormous entity like Coca-Cola possibly retain connections with consumers in a multitude of countries and cultures? Enter Ravi Parmeswar, who is constantly on the prowl to mine local insights to bring a global strategy to life in different cultural contexts. For the past six years, Parmeswar has been with The Coca-Cola Company in a variety of positions in Latin America, Global Marketing and Coca-Cola North America. In his current capacity as vice president of the Knowledge and Insights Department for Coca-Cola North America, Parmeswar makes it his mission to understand the business benefits of tracking and measuring brand health within and across multiple countries thanks in part to more than 20 years of experience in marketing research, engineering, strategic planning, product development and consulting from global Fortune 100 organizations.
Andrew Ciffer, Manager, Data Warehouse Center, Wyeth Consumer Healthcare
Partnering with senior management in the Category Management, Sales, Business Research, Marketing and Demand Planning organizations, Andrew Ciffer helps to set the direction for POS business intelligence at Wyeth Consumer Healthcare. Ciffer takes the strategic direction and develops implementation efforts to acquire new POS sources, integrate them into the enterprise data warehouse and work with the user community to leverage the results through report development and training. "The biggest challenge to me will be leveraging the explosion of information," says Ciffer. "For example, RFID poses a significant challenge -- how to deal with the volumes of data and have it benefit the supply chain. Integration of disparate sources of information -- EDI, customer direct, syndicated sources of data (inventory, POS) with internal data (shipments, trade spending, promotion plans) is a significant effort. The benefits to the organization are manifold, which require focused strategic planning with strong business sponsorship."
Peter Abate, VP, Sales & Marketing Analytic Solutions, E. & J. Gallo Winery
E. & J. Gallo Winery was once living a nightmare of organizing an endless stream of fragmented data in order to effectively plan, execute and measure the success of retail marketing campaigns. Making matters worse was the challenge of updating a constant flow of retail outlet openings and closings. In response, Peter Abate uncorked the Sales Information Management System at Gallo, a three-year company-wide overhaul that created an accurate depiction of sales activity throughout the company's entire distributor base. TDLinx also helps with the company's data quality, alignment and integration challenges. "Our efforts are now being directed against the accounts that can have a dramatic effect on our business, and allows us to focus more on value-added activity," says Abate. "Fish departments, bakeries, square footage...it all helps us determine specific ways to sell. TDLinx is the glue that holds our data warehouse together."
Bob Bersani, Global Standards Officer, Royal Ahold
A multi-national retailer such as Netherlands-based Royal Ahold is on the front lines of movement toward global standards, partly by necessity and partly by choice. Conflicting rules and regulations, business operations and even language barriers can often create obstacles in the creation of a smoothly operating global enterprise. The company's IT mission is to retool existing processes in a way that both improves efficiency and prepares the company for future technology opportunities. Creating and following global data synchronization standards, under the supervision of Bob Bersani, is the first step in this process. "We are implementing global standards right now based on how we operate the company," says Bersani. "However, as we move to a global organization, the fact that what we're implementing is based on a global roadmap and based on global standards should dovetail into a global application."
Brian Cornell, Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, Safeway Inc.
Brian Cornell joined Safeway in April of 2004 and has more than 20 years of experience in consumer products marketing and management, serving most recently as president of Pepsi-Cola North America's Food Services Division. In the past months, Cornell spearheaded the launch of Safeway's largest, fully integrated, marketing initiative in its history, with the Ingredients for Life campaign. There are two overriding trends that Safeway is tapping into, both of which have a great impact on consumer goods suppliers to this leading grocery chain. First, with organic products being a focus in 150 newly remodeled "Lifestyle" format stores, it signifies a continued rise in consumer demand for healthier products. Second, Cornell's goal of branding Safeway to the end consumer is indicative of retailers not only wanting to get consumers into their doors, but more importantly, to promote their retail store brands, such as Safeway's Ranchers Reserve meats and Safeway Signature Soups.
Randy Salley, Vice President of Information Systems, Wal-Mart
Randy Salley was promoted to his current position of vice president, Information Systems Division in September 1999. His current responsibilities include the strategic development and deployment of Wal-Mart's Merchandise Replenishment, Distribution, Logistics, Transportation and EDI systems worldwide. As a member of the VICS Board of Directors, Salley says that by using UCCnet services, Wal-Mart was able to address the data accuracy of the items it synchronized, reduce item maintenance from between 15 days and 30 days down to just one day, and demonstrate market share increases with the early arrival of new items.
Keith Martin, CIO, Associated Wholesale Grocers
Trust is a tough thing to come by, and the biggest challenge for Keith Martin will be learning to trust those outside the company's four walls. "The industry has intellectually accepted the need to collaborate with others, and has taken small, initial steps to exchange data with those it interacts with in the supply chain, but the industry was built on distrust. The retailer didn't trust the wholesaler, the wholesaler didn't trust the vendor, the vendor knew the wholesaler was taking advantage of them, and the wholesaler knew the retailer was taking advantage of them. Historically, there have been many defensive systems built into the supply chain, from both a systems and a business process perspective. To maximize supply chain effectiveness, we must learn to trust our business partners, and learn to audit the process rather than roadblock the process. We must allow data and information to flow freely from the vendor to the wholesaler to the retailer and then back up through the chain."