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Analytics Unite

Inside Analytics Unite 2021: Plotting Roadmaps to Success


When selecting the theme for Analytics Unite 2021, the CGT and RIS team quickly homed in on “The Future of Business.” With the retail and consumer goods industry grappling with more than a year’s worth of disruption, how to plot a new roadmap to success is the No. 1 priority on most executive’s minds.

Held across three days and packed with keynotes, panels and fireside chats with today’s industry-leading CG brands, retailers and solution providers, Analytics Unite provided attendees with some much-needed perspective, context and inspiration as we move into the second half of the year.

Highlights from all of the session are below, with links to some of our expanded coverage. If you weren’t able to attend — or if you just want to dig in a bit deeper into content — you can still register to watch, download and explore the virtual summit as much as you’d like until June 17.

Listen to all the on-demand AU sessions here

a man sitting on a tableClockwise from top left: Andy Walter, Cameron Davies, and Clay Johnson

Tuesday, May 18

Opening Keynote: Future of Business
The retail and consumer goods industries have endured a decade’s worth of disruption over the past year. The organizations nimble enough to adjust on the fly have set themselves up for prolonged success, while those unable or unwilling to meet the new reality head-on have faced dire consequences. In the opening keynote of Analytics Unite 2021, Yum Brands chief data officer Cameron Davies and chief digital and technology officer Clay Johnson, along with P&G's Andy Walter (retired), explored where the industries are headed, what it's going to take to emerge as a future leader, and the role analytics will play in building the future of business.

Click here to read expanded coverage of the keynote.


a man and a woman standing in front of a windowClockwise from top left: Ash Mehra, Ralph Niebles, Ricky Joshi and Cheryl Perkins

New Business Models Redefining the Industry
How have CGs and retailers pivoted their businesses to meet changing market conditions, and how analytics helped them successfully implement these new models? RIS and CGT set out to answer this question during this industry panel featuring Cheryl Perkins, CEO, Innovationedge LLC; Ralph Niebles, VP of IT, Art of Shaving; Ricky Joshi, Chief Strategy Officer, Saatva Mattress; and Ash Mehra, CIO, Pharmapacks.

Click here to read expanded coverage of the session.


Reckitt: The Journey to Insight-Driven Decisions
Identifying the next big trend before your competition is the holy grail for brands looking to grow market share. But for Reckitt, it has been the driving force behind developing a transformative and industry-leading insights capability within the organization. That journey, however, has not been without its challenges.

Ganesh Sivakumar, Reckitt head of data and analytics, joined Evan Raggi, director of FMCG at Signals Analytics (a Kenshoo company), for an exclusive look into the transformation Reckitt has undergone over the last 12 months to accelerate insight-driven decision making across the organization.

“We used to be known as RB, but now we are the COVID company,” Sivakumar noted, producing brands like Lysol and Mucinex. Sivakumar and Raggi discussed the strategy, data, technology, people and processes involved in becoming insight-driven, and reflected on the lessons learned along the way. 

This included finding the data champions within Reckitt and then leveraging them through a “crawl, walk, run” progression. “We had fragmented data and analytics teams and no single version of the truth,” he said. “We were focused on what versus why.” 

As part of this, they learned to acknowledge functional silos but avoid one-size-fits all rules as adoption cannot be forced.

a man standing in front of a flat screen televisionGanesh Sivakumar, Reckitt head of data and analytics, and Evan Raggi, director of FMCG at Signals Analytics (a Kenshoo company)

Sustainable Competitive Advantage with Augmented Analytics
Augmented analytics is the next generation of big data analytics, helping democratize and simplify analytics throughout the industry. By leveraging machine learning and natural language processing (NLP), CGs and retailers can automate analytic processes that were traditionally handled by data scientists or analytic specialists. 

In this session, Abdul Raheem, chief data scientist, Mondelez International, and Mike Finley, chief data scientist and co-founder, AnswerRocket, discussed the still-emerging technology and tackled some of the most common questions. Top of the question heap was: Why do retailers and CGs even need augmented analytics?

The answer is quite simple: volume, variety and velocity.

Unstructured data will account for more than 80% of the data collected by organizations over the next five years, necessitating insight automation if the true value of that data is going to be realized.

Mike Finley in glasses looking at the cameraLeft: Abdul Raheem and Mike Finley

Raheem encouraged attendees to not try to boil the ocean, but rather prioritize the use of augmented analytics. He provided the  following prioritization guidelines:

  1. Find a problem that’s already important
  2. Go big iteratively with smaller wins
  3. Make sure there is enough “good data”
  4. Balance urgency with data quality
  5. Leverage non-AI aspects of automation

By leveraging NLP, intelligent analytics and on-demand data visualization, retailers and CGs can unlock the power of this unstructured data and gain a competitive advantage. Among the key advantages Raheem outlined were:

  1. Shifting the use of data from experts to everyone
  2. Actionable insights
  3. Increased data literacy
  4. Ability towards proactive analytics
  5. Non IT-dependent reusable analysis
graphical user interfaceJack Phillips

Habits of Highly Successful Analytics Leaders
There are countless ways to define leadership, and Jack Phillips, CEO and co-founder of the International Institute for Analytics, put some numbers behind things when it comes to specifically defining successful analytics leadership. Sharing his findings, Phillips presented a portrait that was almost reminiscent of the Boy Scout Law: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent." But, in the case of an analytic leader, those traits would instead fall along lines of curious, empathetic, tenacious, patient and determined.

Click here to read expanded coverage of the presentation.


a man standing in front of a book shelfJeff Swearingen

Wednesday, May 19

Preparing for the Future Consumer
Many consumers know what PepsiCo is, and what it does, but they may not know why they do it. Jeff Swearingen, senior VP, Demand Accelerator, PepLabs and GBS, explained during Analytics Unite that it really exists to create smiles. In his keynote, Swearingen discussed his view of the future consumer and how we can best prepare for them.

Click here to read expanded coverage of the keynote.


Consumer Goods Case Study: Digital Transformation at 100x
Mars is leveraging advanced analytics and machine learning to transform its business at unprecedented speeds. Mars' Tarun Kataria, senior director advanced analytics and machine learning, and Fractal Analytics' Mohit Agrawal explored how in this session.

The boundaries in today's new world are crashing and colliding with each other across the functions we’ve become comfortable with, said Kataria, and as a result we must start thinking in a holistic way.

a man standing in front of a windowTarun Kataria

We want to get zero distance to our consumers so we can frame the product in the correct way, he said. Once a problem is identified, AI/ML and data and analytics can be used to solve them, thus freeing up time to look at other challenges.

“Agility Is about learning and proving or disproving end-to-end as fast as you can,” he said. “It’s not about getting your data perfect first.” Often we find the problem has either evolved or isn’t what we thought it was in the first place, he noted.

“We have to think differently in a digital world,” Kataria said. “We need to adopt ourselves.” Making accurate and timely decisions that drive results among hundreds of thousands of options takes time. As humans, we cannot make eight decisions each minute this is why automation is critical.


Share Group: Incorporating Advanced Analytics & Machine Learning into an RGM Roadmap
Leveraging advanced analytics and machine learning in any consumer goods function is a hot topic of late. Especially when looking to leverage this type of technology within developing a revenue growth management roadmap, it can often become difficult to clearly identify use cases needed to gain buy-in for use in revenue management and trade optimization.

That is why in CGT’s latest share group meeting, host UpClear brought along a panel of experts to present a framework to identify key RGM processes that can be supported by advanced analytics along with related data enablers and success factors that can be applied relatively quickly, and to an existing or developing strategy. Martin Dally, finance trade manager of Perfetti Van Melle, USA; David Jackson, head of net revenue management for Ferrero UK; and Adam Booth, lead data scientist for Atheon Analytics; joined Gabriele Plate, director of customer success, EMEA for UpClear, to discuss key challenges and case studies around machine learning-driven trade optimization.


Share Group: Consumer Insights Innovators
AWS hosted a Consumer Insights Innovator Share Group, one in a series of peer-to-peer forums designed to address the challenges facing CG companies on their path to becoming a data-driven enterprise. The closed-door group discussed the challenges today’s CGs are confronting and their place on the consumer insights journey.

Participants in this group were invited to share their own experiences and help assess what common solutions and strategies can drive the industry forward.

To learn more about CGT Share Groups, including sponsorship and membership, contact Albert Guffanti.


a man sitting at a table with a laptop and smiling at the cameraFrance Roy

Answering Demand: A Case Study in Growth
What do you do when demand for your product skyrockets beyond your wildest expectations? Scale, scale, scale. In this session at Analytics Unite, France Roy, AB InBev chief technology officer, direct-to-consumer, shared a peek behind the curtain at Zé Delivery, the AB InBev subsidiary that delivers cold beer to consumers within an hour by leveraging its retail store network.

Click here to read expanded coverage of the presentation.

Sign up for the upcoming webinar to learn more.


Thursday, May 20

5 Pivotal Tech-Powered Strategies
David's Bridal’s chief digital experience officer Lizzy Ellingson, Forrester Research’s VP, principal analyst, Brendan Witcher, and Ocean Spray’s chief digital and technology officer Jamie Head joined RIS editor at large Joe Skorupa on the virtual stage to examine and debate five strategies: Personalized Experiences, Unified View of the Customer, Advanced Analytic and Data Tools, Bridge Digital and In-Store Experiences, and Loyalty Programs that Uniquely Fit Customers.

Click here to read expanded coverage of the session.

a screenshot of a personClockwise from top left: Lizzy Ellingson, Jamie Head, Brendan Witcher and Joe Skorupa


Why Data & Analytics Leaders Are Embracing CDPs
“If transformation is limited to one team in an organization, we’re not talking about transformation,” Jackie Rousseau-Anderson, SVP, Customer Success, BlueConic, said to kick off this breakout session.

How can analytics teams help their marketing counterparts drive better customer experiences? Rousseau-Anderson and BlueConic’s COO Cory Munchbach shared how companies like VF Corp. and Heineken USA use a customer data platform to drive efficiencies for the analytics team.

The two reviewed many of the myths and realities customers are actually grappling with, starting with the myth that marketing should lead the transformation. Transformation is instead a company-wide initiative that requires input from analytics teams.

“Technology selection in and of itself is not actually an end,” said Munchbach, posing the question: How can we democratize some of the data we have? Maybe IT doesn’t want everyone in marketing touching the master data system, but that shouldn’t mean marketing has no data or only has what’s in their sandbox.

Rousseau-Anderson also noted we should really be looking at the processes that can be automated, and what bigger and better things can be done once that extra time is identified. “That’s why we define use cases,” she said.

To that end, the two closed out with a case study on Heineken USA and how it gained visibility into customer segments for the first time.

a person standing in a roomLeft: Jackie Rousseau-Anderson and Cory Munchbach


Predicting Retail and CPG Business Futures with AI and Economic Intelligence
In this breakout session, a trio of Prevedere thought leaders explored how predictive analytics and econometric modeling can help CGs and retailers manage an increasingly volatile world. CEO Richard Wagner, chief economist Andrew Duguay, and director of product marketing Andy McCartney discussed COVID’s impact and resulting economic volatility on business planning.

Duguay noted that while predicting the pandemic wasn’t possible, the need to start measuring and quantifying information was immediate from the get-go. Particularly valuable is measuring category impact using such indicators as new foot traffic patterns and Google search trends.

“If you’re not capturing that and looking for external correlations, there’s no way you’re going to be able to quantify,” he said.

While econometric modeling isn’t a new concept — McCartney described it as a bit of a “forgotten art” — its progress has historically been hindered by cost. He noted that advances in data and technology have made the modeling much more easily to do efficiently.  

“You can take these leading external signals, whether it’s a weekly economic index [or] Dodge Momentum based on your industry, and you can turn those into a predictive model and test almost every possible combination today.” 

Andrew Duguay standing in front of a televisionClockwise from top: Andy McCartney, Richard Wagner and Andrew Duguay

Analytics Study Panel
A mainstay of AU since its inception has been the Analytics Study Panel. For the past eight years, RIS and CGT have co-produced the “Retail and Consumer Goods Analytics Study,” which benchmarks the current state of analytics across the two industries, and provides real-world data on current analytic investment trends.

This year’s discussion featured a select group of industry leaders who analyzed the results and provided their boots-on-the-ground perspective on the future of analytics across CG and retail. A couple of key takeaways include:

Radu Miclaus, head of product, Tellius: "If CGs and retailers don’t start thinking of themselves as #technology companies first, they are behind. The reality is, if companies are not starting to think about uplifting their entire population of employees with data literacy, there will still be fragmentation."

Jerry Stephens, VP of global sales, Outlier AI: “Organizations are looking to enable people to make decisions faster, including non-functional decisions. Connecting the organization through data and through insights.”

Steve Frechette, VP, product management, ChannelAdvisor outlined two key analytic tech investment areas. Visibility, the ability to see and foresee what’s happening in our ecosystem and Agility, taking those insights and reacting quickly.

Chris Chapo, VP of advanced analytics, Amperity: "We’ve seen improvements around productivity for digital teams and empowering personalized experiences, with brute force and connecting it to the data in personalization systems."

Jennifer Schaff, managing director, Elder Research: "We need to see a transition where strategy and analytics are really defined and a foundation is in place." It is key to getting the tech to work and providing meaningful ROI going forward.

a group of people posing for the cameraTop: Jennifer Schaff, Chris Chapo, Radu Miclaus; Bottom: Jerry Stephens and Steve Frechette


The Value of Analytics: The Investors' Perspective
Analytics Unite 2021 was brought to a close with a panel discussion focused on the value of analytics from an investor’s perspective. Veteran retail and CG investors Roger Freeman, partner, SFW Capital Partners and Sapna Shah, principal, Red Giraffe Advisors provided their unique perspective on where the smart money is placing big bets, as well as the role analytic commitment plays in determining the intrinsic value of a company.

Over his 30-plus year career investing in retail technology Freeman has focused primarily on large established players, while Shah is concentrating on early-stage, startup investment. The panelists’ differing approaches allowed for a spirited discussion on the investment landscape. The speakers touched on a variety of topics, including the difference between startup and established investing, how they evaluate potential investment, emerging investment trends, and the role data plays in building a high-value organization.

Freeman and Shah discussed the importance of “knowing” your customer and the challenges both established and emerging brands face collecting and leveraging customer data. Consumers are weary of providing too much information, but if there is a perceived value to handing over personal data the chance of collecting it goes way up.

a man smiling for the cameraLeft: Roger Freeman and Sapna Shah

“Netflix is a great example,” Freeman said. “We all wondered why they're sending all those CDs around many, many years ago. Well, what do they learn? They learned who the customers were.”

Knowing your customer as well as emerging market trends are key to success. Shah closed the discussion by laying out four major trends she has observed at the earliest stages of retail and CG development.

1. Personalization: personalization of product as well as personalization of the shopping experience.

2. Curated Marketplaces: online marketplaces, as well as offline brick-and-mortar marketplaces, have become increasingly important for product discovery.

3. Experiential Shopping: immersive shopping that leverages augmented and virtual reality is growing in popularity.

4. Sustainability: increased focus on sustainability and ethical sourcing particularly from Gen Z.