Orchestrating Demand Moments by Steering Business in Real Time
The “word of mouth” generation has transformed into the “word of finger” era. Spreading the word has never been so fast, so focused and truly viral with a matter of a finger click. For instance, a hacked twitter feed sent the U.S. stock market in a downward spiral. Oreo’s You can still dunk in the dark ad, released during a Superbowl’s power blackout, was re-tweeted 10,000 times within an hour. The recent Dove Real Beauty Sketches YouTube video generated more than 23 million hits within a week. In a world where the consumer reaction is so swift, consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies need be ahead of the game. Effectively orchestrating to Demand Moments necessitates the ability to Shape Demand (Enabling the Path to Purchase) and efficiently Fulfill Demand (Sense and Respond).
Shaping Demand - Enabling the path to purchase
Engaging a savvy and discerning shopper effectively across the path to purchase poses a big challenge. While the pre-purchase step involves making it to the list, the in-store/online phase is about getting products into the cart and the post-purchase interactions are all about enhancing the shopper experience. These steps require an in-depth analysis of the consumer’s needs and a solution that engages the consumer in an optimal manner.
This process is achieved by having the capability to draw insights from large amounts of data, received through multiple sources, within new marketing and e-commerce platforms. Insights are also gained by working closely with retailers and design relevant shopper marketing programs.
Fulfilling Demand - Efficient Sense and Respond
There is enough written about the whole sense and respond ecosystem of solutions. Recent research by CGT shows that the primary challenges around data required for effective response:
· Integrating various sources of data. The difficulty compounds due to the lack of understanding of the data, new types of data and the inability of current BI approaches to deliver insights from the data.
· Data ownership is dispersed across functions. A key challenge preventing a unified view of data in the context of a business process which affects adoption of solutions developed.
· Delivering demand signals into the core business processes. Once core business processes are equipped to respond to demand signals, understanding consumer demands becomes a lot easier.
Thus, while the processes of fulfillment exist, they are not effectively enabled by the right demand signals.
The ability to shape and fulfill demand is core to the success of a brand. This in turn requires the ability to steer business in real time based on better visibility and faster insights.
Better visibility, better time to insight
Successful orchestration necessitates better visibility and analytics across the processes in the Demand Supply value chain. Companies having this capability can exert a higher influence on consumer’s response. Several CPG companies do not have this visibility advantage.
For instance, a food and beverages major lacked an integrated view to sales, operations and financial planning. Its IT department offered an 18-month long transformation program for integrated visibility, citing usual challenges such as disparate data, suboptimal processes and multiple sources of data. While the transformation is essential, better visibility does not need to wait for 18 months. In reality the problem is not the data but rather the change involved in working with better visibility. The Infosys Integrated Business Planning solution is a solution to provide immediate visibility and analytical capabilities with the available data and processes. Where required, manual methods of processing data are deployed. The approach is a pragmatic one. The approach not only helps support the existing business needs thus delivering value, but also helps define the process changes required for the future state, thus delivering a much stronger solution in the long term.
The analytics team of a CPG company undertook to create a prototype, for a real-time decision-support cockpit, aware that it could not deliver all the metrics promised. Since the prototype focused on business-relevant metrics up front, the project was funded. That there was nearly 50 percent manual effort involved in data-capture for the cockpit at first was inconsequential. What mattered to the company was that the business gained better visibility quickly and the knowhow for automation came in the follow-on phases.
Time to Insights
A large CPG major, was facing declining share in a specific category of a large retailer. The IT organization was struggling with a business case to invest in Big Data solutions. We brought both groups together and leveraged every source of data we could collectively access. Using Big Data technologies and advanced visualization we quickly analyzed the situation and identified several root causes. We represented the same insights to the retailer, as well, with amazing results. The more interesting aspect is that the data adapters, analytical components and visualizations are all reusable while solving for a similar problem thus significantly reducing the time to insight – to a few hours from over 8 weeks of playing with data. The Infosys Big Data Edge platform helps companies achieve this.
Better visibility and time to insights are critical to successful demand orchestration. Traditional approaches to BI are archaic and result in low adoption and continued proliferation of spreadsheets; not faster insights. The need of the hour is enable the business with the right tools for visibility and basic analytics, even with manual steps at times. The value lies in its simplicity, agility and ability to evolve to the desired end state.
Steering business in real time
Insights and timely visibility need to be complemented with the ability to swiftly respond to demand. This necessitates that the insights are well integrated within the business process and there is adequate attention to change management and adoption.
A large food and beverages major wanted to transform its retail execution. The primary objective was to improve execution by spending the right amount of time in the store focusing on the high ROI activities. The process and technology implemented was complemented with advanced analytics to optimize execution. The initiative delivered significant increase in sales due to better execution driven by the fact that the analytics was well integrated within the process to ensure execution.
In the consumer domain, tapping into the burgeoning mass of social data and mining extensive purchase intelligence can provide critical insights that can be leveraged to increase sales. With a plethora of channels that offer potential avenues for engagement, it’s finally the act of communicating with consumers based on their context. The insight gained once again is useful only if it is integrated into the process of consumer engagement.
Infosys Consumer Genome Project
A large specialty retailer leveraged the Infosys Consumer Genome project to personalize the consumer experience across all channels of interaction. This approach has given significant increase in the conversion rates, on offers extended to the consumers. Reason for success: the offers are presented in real time to the consumer or to the store associate interacting with the consumer. Insights were very much part of the process. Read the complete case study here.
CPG companies are also finding newer means of engaging with their consumers. Another large beverage major is leveraging the Infosys Consumer Genome Project to be able to target content and offers based on Facebook check-ins, recipe preferences and individual profiles. Joint marketing programs with retailers and shopper solutions designed by CPG companies open up significant avenues for firms to target and personalize offerings to their shoppers. The success of the Consumer Genome Project is clearly attributed to embedding insights into the process of consumer interaction.
If we consider the areas of Trade Analytics or Integrated Business Planning, we find that the key is to enable execution based on insights. Insights from trade analytics need to be leveraged in trade and event planning. Likewise, insights from Integrated Business Planning need to enable the processes of sales & operations and financial planning. Several industry initiatives in these areas are yet to witness success because adequate attention has not been given to usage of analytics in the process and the Change Management involved. Change management is extremely critical due to several teams being involved in decision making and execution. We have seen significant successes in cases where the business processes have been well defined and there is adequate senior management commitment and stakeholder buy-in to the process change.
To conclude, demand orchestration needs the right visibility and insights along with the ability to steer business in real time. This is not a technology problem. Today there are sufficient tools and technologies available. What is required is a combination of a pragmatic approach, innovative use of technology and a focus on process and change management to be able to deliver substantial value.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kishor Gummaraju is the AVP & Head of Business Insights, Retail & CPG at Infosys. Over the last two decades Kishor has worked extensively with several Retail and CPG companies across the globe. Prior to joining Infosys Kishor worked for Unilever. His current area of focus is Process Transformation through BI & Analytics. For more information, visit www.infosys.com.