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07/12/2022

Inside Analytics Unite 2022: Reuniting and Reenergizing in Chicago

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A captivated audience lends an ear during the Analytics Unite 2022 keynote.
A captivated audience lends an ear during the Analytics Unite 2022 keynote.

Influential leaders from across the consumer goods and retail industries convened in Chicago from June 21-23 for Analytics Unite 2022, the premier networking and educational event discussing the landscape of analytics and the powerful role it is playing in innovation, talent, and business growth. 

With the backdrop of bustling Chicago, in one of the city’s historic hotels, the Drake, CGT and RIS hosted several captivating sessions across three jam-packed days, brimming with insightful topics such as data-centric loyalty strategies, a consumer-based approach to analytics, workforce challenges, data analytics leadership, and much more.

We’re excited to provide highlights from all sessions below, with links to some of our expanded coverage. 

Tuesday, June 21

 

Workshop: The Plan Must Change — Again! How to Make Rapid-Fire Adjustments in a Less Predictable World

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Alex McConnell, Principal Customer Advisory, SAS, gives presentation during "The Plan Must Change — Again!"
Alex McConnell, Principal Customer Advisory, SAS, gives presentation during "The Plan Must Change — Again!"

Analytics Unite 2022 kicked off on June 21 with a workshop entitled “The Plan Must Change — Again! How to Make Rapid-Fire Adjustments in a Less Predictable World.” The session featured Joe Wright, senior director, IBP strategy and analytics, Kellogg North America; Chad Schumacher, customer advisory, SAS; and Alex McConnell, principal customer advisory, SAS.

The trio of thought leaders deployed an interactive and engaging format to explore the current state of integrated business planning. Each member of the panel took on a “persona” at a fictitious company to explore how planning is currently conducted versus the ideal structure. Schumacher took on the role of “the new hire,” McConnell was the “experienced employee,” and Wright played the part of the CEO.

Through a series of question-and-answer skits, the panel explored the four-step cycle of demand planning:

  1. Aggregate demand plan
  2. Detailed demand plan
  3. Shipment forecast
  4. Supply plan

For each step of the cycle, McConnell as the experienced employee described why the company approached each phase the way it did, while Schumacher as the new hire peppered him with questions and “what if” scenarios. Wright as the CEO chimed in regularly to set the record straight and assert the proper way to tackle these scenarios.

While the world continues to evolve around us, consumer goods brands must adjust their planning approach based on a number of external and internal factors. “Change is constant,” McConnell said. “And how you manage it will change your thinking and your trajectory.”

And when all is said and done, a good forecast is not enough if it ignores the real world. Planners must remain nimble and willing to pivot at a moment’s notice to optimize forecasts and plans to meet changing market dynamics.

Share Group: Choose Your Own Analytics Adventure!

In this closed-door session for consumer goods and retail executives, attendees participated in interactive breakout groups to identify a range of business goals with their peers. As part of this, they shared and discussed the potential actions they need to take to achieve these goals, the KPIs best used to measure success, the roadblocks in their way, and the breakthroughs they’ve experienced at their own companies. Topics included such goals as optimizing the mix of online and in-store sales, increasing data democratization, developing discipline around trade promotions, and optimizing portfolios to maximize profit margins. 

Find the takeaways here.

Wednesday, June 22

 

Opening Keynote: Accelerating Growth, Talent, and Innovation

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Nicole Nelson, who worked most recently as Best Buy’s SVP of data and analytics, gives the Analytics Unite keynote.
Nicole Nelson, who worked most recently as Best Buy’s SVP of data and analytics, gives the Analytics Unite keynote.

Analytics Unite kicked off the day with an interactive opening keynote from Nicole Nelson, who worked most recently as Best Buy’s SVP of data and analytics. Nelson’s keynote, “Accelerating Growth, Talent, and Innovation,” explored the 2022 theme of the event. She polled the audience in the Analytics Unite mobile app throughout the session, while addressing analytic talent attraction and nurturing, technology and product innovation, as well as how to turn growth into a data-driven competitive advantage. 

She opened by asking “how many of you woke up this morning thinking about what differentiates your company?” She spoke of how to use physical assets to redefine the business and use data to define customer needs in a new way. She noted that at Best Buy they spent an hour each week to discuss projects with different teams. 

“What we found in that hour talking about projects was that every time we talked, someone in the room said, ‘Wait a minute, you’re doing that? That’s going to impact us over here in our team’ or ‘Are you struggling with that. I think I have data on that you need.’”

Nelson reviewed the three areas that come to mind when she thinks about how to accelerate talent: incubate, attract, retain. She also revealed an inside tip on the one thing she did that kept people on her teams. 

When someone joined the organization, she spent 30 minutes with each person and did the following:

  • Got to know them personally
  • Asked them what they loved to do
  • Told them to reach out however they were comfortable if they saw something 

Is Your Analytics Team Prepared to Accelerate?

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Maria Macuare, VP IBS global data and analytics at Mondelez International, turned heads during this "snarky" presentation.
Maria Macuare, VP IBS global data and analytics at Mondelez International, turned heads during this "snarky" presentation.

In what was a self-described snarky retelling of her data science journey, Maria Macuare, VP IBS global data and analytics at Mondelez International, challenged the audience to examine the role that the ego plays in leadership — in order to unify the role of analytics teams to drive greater value for the industry.

Macuare described her personal journey as she leveled up during her time at Procter & Gamble, the skill sets she acquired, the connections she formed with her peers, and the access to management she began gaining — as well as the sometimes-confusing nature of such access.  

“I was being managed, but mismanaged,” she said. “The analytics profession at that point back in time was managed by competent people, but they weren't necessarily analytics people. So I felt misunderstood. I felt that I couldn't really communicate with this manager. I was a magician in my craft, I could do amazing things, but my manager didn't quite get it.”

Read the extended coverage here. 

Democratizing Data to Unlock Tomorrow’s Market Opportunities

SAP’s John Buckley hosted a panel discussion on “Democratizing Data to Unlock Tomorrow’s Market Opportunities” that explored the need to get data in the hands of those that can turn insights into action. He was joined by industry end users Mustafa Mustafa from Ferrara Candy Company and Russ Johnson of Old World Industries.

The panel explored how retailers and consumer goods companies can seize market opportunities and forge deep relationships with their customers by ensuring their organizations are future-proofing their teams and tactics with the right data strategies.

Mustafa joined the Ferrara Candy Company team seven years ago and was immediately struck with the company’s struggles harmonizing its data. To streamline its data efforts and break down the silos that were limiting enterprise access to critical data, Mustafa and his team adopted a KISS mentality, albeit with a little twist.

The team changes a few words from the famous KISS acronym, instead relying on Keeping It Sweet and Simple. A perfect example of the team’s KISS mantra in action was the unification of all analytics language when the company acquired Kellogg’s cookie and fruit snack business.

Johnson echoed Mustafa’s sentiments on the importance of keeping an enterprise’s data approach simple and unified. He discussed Old World Industries’ hub and spoke approach to data, with the data team firmly planted in the center.

Realizing Value at Scale From Advanced Analytics

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Kishor Gummaraju, chief customer officer, Tiger Analytics, shared first-hand experiences on effectively scaling analytics across organizations.
Kishor Gummaraju, chief customer officer, Tiger Analytics, shared first-hand experiences on effectively scaling analytics across organizations.

During the breakout session “Realizing Value at Scale From Advanced Analytics,” AU attendees learned how realizing value at scale means a solution must be easily implementable across markets and categories. Tad Moskwa, customer data officer/senior director digital transformation, Mars Inc., and Kishor Gummaraju, chief customer officer, Tiger Analytics, shared first-hand experiences on effectively scaling analytics across organizations.

Gummaraju asked about the opportunities they see for leveraging analytics, to which Moskwa said, if you reflect on the success you see, the examples are very focused. Most people think scale means geographic. But now we’re focused on breaking silos and scaling with depth. 

He noted he sees people are “paralyzed by perfection.” Mindsets need to shift to move forward.

Most teams are not incentivized to scale. They don’t have any skin in the game to make it work for the wider organization. He also noted “you have to take people along on the journey.” You have to get leadership teams to understand the basics so they can make better decisions. 

Gummaraju agreed, it’s not really about the analytics solution. “It’s really about, how do you drive the value, how do you communicate, how do you make it real.”

“If it’s going to impact existing processes and the way people work, you have to have the right people involved from day one, the right sponsorship and approach to training, or it’s going to fail,” Moskwa followed.

How to Incorporate Market Uncertainty Into Planning and Strategy

During the breakout session “How to Incorporate Market Uncertainty Into Planning and Strategy,” Andy McCartney, director of product marketing, Prevedere, and Boyd Nash-Stacey, senior economist, Prevedere, examined why and how organizations need to leverage external data and artificial intelligence (AI)-based economic intelligence to more holistically and effectively plan for future outcomes. 

Organizations must understand the impact of a plethora of external factors such as geopolitical changes, macroeconomic factors, supply chain shifts, weather events, and consumer behavior, just to name a few. To explore this, Nash-Stacey talked about market uncertainty. Is a recession on the way? 

“Thinking naively about this, we can say we’re not necessarily staring a recession in the face.” But let’s be predictive, he suggested, bringing external factors into planning. Nash-Stacey then led the audience through starting at the naïve level and working your way down, in this planning example.

McCartney then took the audience into part two. Can you take the economist's view and apply it to your business? Can you incorporate uncertainty into planning? “We want to identify and quantify your external business drivers for market validated prediction and planning,” McCartney said. 

He reviewed the following steps: identify line of business indicators; create cause and effect AI prediction models; refine business plans. 

He reviewed Prevedere’s four-stage model for advanced predictive planning:

  1. Discover
  2. Predict
  3. Integrate
  4. Monitor

Navigating Disruption and Persevering in a World of Perpetual Change

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NielsenIQ’s Steve Zurek discussed how manufacturers and retailers have altered their strategic approaches due to industry challenges.
NielsenIQ’s Steve Zurek discussed how manufacturers and retailers have altered their strategic approaches due to industry challenges.

The retail and consumer goods industries are facing new challenges including inflation, rising cost of goods, increased labor wages, and supply chain disruptions. In his talk on “Navigating Disruption and Persevering in a World of Perpetual Change,” NielsenIQ’s Steve Zurek discussed these headwinds and how manufacturers and retailers have altered their strategic approaches to lessen the impact on consumers.

Zurek started his presentation by discussing the ongoing disruption the industry is facing, noting that disruption is nothing new in the industry. Over the past few years consumers have changed the way they shop and we are not going back to a pre-COVID style path to purchase. There has been a culture shift and CGs and retailers must pivot their operations to keep pace.

For example, Zurek noted the need to streamline the shopping journey especially online. He reminded attendees that we are in the three-click world now — if shoppers can’t find what they are looking for within three online clicks, they start their search over. Simplification and user experience is key.

Zurek explored the current economic environment, saying that we are starting to see the inflation curve plateau, but we will remain in a highly inflationary environment for the foreseeable future. He believes this, coupled with other factors, will almost certainly lead to a recession. The real question is whether that recession will lead to a soft or a hard landing.

The impact on retailers and CGs are many. First and foremost is that recession means less spending power for many shoppers, which leads to decreased sales across the industry. On the operational front he cautioned those in the room to shorten their planning windows, focusing on only the six months in front of them until inflation lessens. 

Innovative Loyalty: Identify the Data that Creates Obsessed Consumers

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From left to right: Cameron Davies, Chief Data Officer, Yum! Brands; David Dittmann, Vice President Data & Analytics, Chief Analytics Officer, Procter & Gamble; Darrin Samaha, VP Marketing, Yesway;Deb Hannah, SVP Marketing, Shoe Carnival
From left to right: Cameron Davies, Chief Data Officer, Yum! Brands; David Dittmann, Vice President Data & Analytics, Chief Analytics Officer, Procter & Gamble; Darrin Samaha, VP Marketing, Yesway;Deb Hannah, SVP Marketing, Shoe Carnival

There’s a lot of things that encompass loyalty, but it all comes down to a value exchange, said Deb Hannah, SVP of marketing at Shoe Carnival, during the loyalty-focused session at Analytics Unite, which was moderated by Cameron Davies, chief data officer at Yum! Brands.

That value exchange, however, can get a little complicated. Panelist Darrin Samaha, vice president of marketing at Yesway, said it’s about delivering value that is unique to the brand, which serves as fuel. 

“Customers are looking for more experiential rewards,” he said. David Dittman, VP of data analytics and chief analytics officer at Procter & Gamble, agrees that if the brand can offer this, the data will roll in. 

Read the extended coverage here. 

Recruit, Retain, Renew: Building a Connected Workforce

Possibilities, superpower, focus-creation.

These are the words given when Nandha Kumar, CIO Americas, Danone, asked a panel of experts “what’s one word that comes to mind when you hear analytics and talent.”

Seemantini Godbole, EVP, chief information officer, Lowe's; Mohit Das, former vice president, commercial analytics, Kellogg; and Jo O'Hazo, chief data and and analytics officer, Giant Eagle, joined Kumar on stage at Analytics Unite during a panel that explored the next-gen analytic skills companies require from their tech teams, and how to recruit and cultivate these unique skills.

Read the extended coverage here. 

Thursday, June 23

 

Breakfast Panel: Analytic Maturity Deep Dive

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Breakfast panel at AU

The final day of the conference kicked off with a “Analytic Maturity Deep Dive” breakfast panel that explored some of the key findings from RIS and CGT’s recently released “Retail and Consumer Goods Analytics Study.” A panel of industry thought leaders discussed the main themes of the study as well as what they are seeing out in the field.

Morgan Davis, Marketdial, explored the evolution of data over the past 5 to 10 years, which has become more accessible.

"People have access to raw data and good BI tools to democratize that part. The trick that maybe hasn't been monetized is getting more of the decision side component at those tail ends. And being able to push that throughout the organization a little bit better than perhaps has been before,” she said.

Danica Konetski, Treasure Data, built on this, stating progress isn't happening as quickly as they'd like.

"There's just so much to choose from. The number of business questions that need to be informed by data and analytics is multiplied exponentially and the capabilities available to choose from are immense. And there's no one greatest capability, technology, or approach.”

Khurram Moiz, BlueConic, said analytics teams need to be brought into the process much earlier: “What I've found when I've entered an organization is that often analytics is very reactive. The analytics team is brought in as almost an afterthought as a campaign wrap up exercise. Analytics should have a voice at the table earlier, to be able to identify and measure success midstream.”

Praveen Kombial, EdgeVerve, an Infosys company, discussed the changing dynamic of data management saying he wants to improve point applications, forecasts, promotion effectiveness, etc. "That gives a much better end framework on how to drive the data and help CGs and retailers leverage their data.”

Lou Ann Daugherty, Blue Yonder, touched on the concept of the autonomous supply chain and the importance of having the right people in place to succeed in a machine-led environment.

“The main part is getting the right resources. We still need humans, but they probably have a different skill set,” said Daugherty. “Have someone embedded in the different business units because you must have that business connection.”

Scaling Analytics: Purview, Program, Project

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Jack Phillips, CEO and co-founder of the International Institute for Analytics, breaks down the levels of value or scale.

Jack Phillips, CEO and co-founder of the International Institute for Analytics, took attendees through an interactive, baseball-themed session to define success when it comes to scaling analytics. For many of today’s digital and analytics leaders, they find themselves in the middle innings of the game, he said.

“You’ve been focused on building out the supply side. You’ve been building capability. You have some momentum. Before you know it, you then have a pattern of demand that is essentially a line out the door. You are unprepared for the demand side for the information economy.”  

As part of this, Phillips broke down the three levels of value or scale, including at the enterprise (or high altitude) level, team/program (mid-altitude), and project/initiative (micro level). When it comes to scaling the reach of analytics, the big holy grail is the decision-making culture, he noted. “Am I actually bending the metal of the brittle decision-making culture inside of my organization?”

More importantly — and aligning with the Analytics Unite theme of “Accelerating Growth, Talent, and Innovation — how are you ensuring you have the required talent to scale? One of today’s biggest questions from today’s analytics leaders remains “How do I put a moat around the talent I have?” he said. Losing talent to digital natives is of epic proportions right now, and attendees were encouraged to deploy every strategy they can when it comes to retaining their data scientists.

Growing Analytics from a Cost Center to a Profit Center

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James Cummings, VP, Global Head of Analytics and Human Intelligence, Mars Wrigley
James Cummings, VP, Global Head of Analytics and Human Intelligence, Mars Wrigley

Despite the undeniable power of a robust analytic foundation, many companies struggle to consistently generate value and tangible ROI from their analytics spend. James Cummings, VP, global head of analytics and human intelligence, Mars Wrigley, examined how a consumer goods and retail organization can build the capability to turn data into value at scale in his “Growing Analytics from a Cost Center to a Profit Center” presentation.

Cummings pointed to four key factors critical to enabling analytic value creation: process, context, complexity, and technology acceptance. To ensure each of the four pieces of the value puzzle are actionable and executable requires decision consistency. “Everyone must use the same data at the same time,” he said. “Bring multiple members of your team together to lower the possibility of bias.”

On the subject of team building, Cummings had this advice for his fellow analytic leaders in the room: Make sure you have leadership support, make sure you have the right resources with clear accountabilities, and make sure you have the right team composition with the right mindset and experiences.

While not every dollar spent on analytic pursuits will have a massive ROI, CGs and retailers can ensure that the majority of their efforts produce profits by following Cummings’ three keys to profitable analytic success.

  1. Change the value story
  2. Identify human barriers
  3. Lead from the front

Setting the Pace for Change With a Consumer-Centric Approach to Data

During the closing keynote presentation, “Setting the Pace for Change with a Consumer-Centric Approach to Data,” the panel, moderated by Kalindi Mehta, VP, consumer foresight and predictive analytics, The Estee Lauder Companies, discussed digital transformation journeys and how to pinpoint winning strategies and technologies.

“Through digital and through new data sets that have become available in last three to five years, we now have the ability to say it doesn’t matter to us necessarily where [consumers] buy, as long as they buy our products,” said Josh Blacksmith, senior director, global consumer relationships and engagement, Kimberly-Clark. “That’s the mindset we have to have in terms of being customer centric.”

Jamie Lancaster, vice president, The Kroger Co., said “I don’t care what product you buy, as long as you buy it from us.” Yet Lancaster noted that there’s competition even within the store, as they sell corporate brands and private labels.

Read the extended coverage here.

Every Picture Tells a Story

Analytics Unite at a Glance