LONDON — Technological development has seen “rapid and sustained evolution” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, becoming a hot topic for the consumer goods industry in many forms, according to “Pursuit of Harmony in the turmoil: working together to make a difference”, a new report from EY Global Consumer in collaboration with the Consumer Goods Forum.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced more consumers and businesses to embrace e-commerce and remote working, the industry’s consumer behavior and business technology have also undergone a significant shift, generating a ” tidal wave of data” which provides a much more nuanced understanding of the situation. consumers and operations, the report notes.
Recent technology investments have accelerated several capabilities, such as transparency and efficiency, in several important areas, including e-commerce, data management, supply chain and even cybersecurity.
“Structurally, this is one of the most underestimated topics in economics,” said Steffen Greubel, PhD, Chairman of the Board of Management of Metro AG. “No one really talks about it and it’s not going to go away. Cyberattacks cause damage of around 200 billion euros to the German economy every year and are also a massive act of economic sabotage.”
According to the report, the market turmoil of recent years has not disrupted the progress of “disruptive technologies” such as artificial intelligence and the Metaverse, as they tend to impact both consumer behaviors and consumers and business processes.
“Healthcare professionals are a major priority for us,” said Brian McNamara, chairman and CEO of Haleon PLC, whose products include vitamins and supplements. “So we have invested heavily in our health portal, where healthcare professionals receive training on our products. This has broadened our reach and is a key part of what we do.
Digitalization technologies are also accessible and advanced enough to provide opportunities for “value creation,” the report says.
“There is an opportunity to find new revenue streams through retail media monetization,” Frans Muller, President and CEO of Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize NV. “You can use this to be more relevant to customers, make the shopping experience more efficient, fund better deals and get better insights. Data quality is essential, consent, privacy and ethical use of data are essential, and it is also a new source of revenue.
According to the report, digitalization promises to “transform” all types of business operations, from improving supply chain transparency to automating business functions, providing early adopters a competitive advantage before it becomes an industry standard, especially given how quickly the technology is developing. .
“The big opportunities now lie in process automation, both in the supply chain, but also as a way to improve efficiency everywhere,” said Magnus Growth, president and CEO of Essity AB. “There are opportunities to improve the entire supply and demand planning process and reduce working capital.”
Technologies not only generate efficiencies, but also challenge organizational structures, the report says.
“Sales today is all about managing revenue growth and digital tools,” said Dirk Van de Put, Chairman and CEO of Mondelez International, Inc. “It’s no longer about to speak well and be in front of your client. Our next CMO could come from our digital group rather than someone who grew up in brand management.
However, businesses must invest in the skills needed to identify and manage the right technology investments if digitalization programs are to succeed, the report says. Requirements change as quickly as technology evolves, which is why companies are favoring generative AI over the metaverse, but investments in core analytics capabilities continue thanks to “the rising tide of data.”
“You can talk all day about empowerment, but unless you have the data, analytics and capacity to make the right decisions at the right level, you won’t be agile,” said Steve Cahillane, president and CEO General of Kellogg Co. .
Even then, businesses should still prioritize the human element and treat automation and AI as “enablers,” the report says.
“We talk about productivity, digital transformation, technology, but we forget that all this is useless if you don’t connect people, if you don’t connect hearts, if you don’t connect the minds of our different generations with a long-standing goal. said Carlos Mario Giraldo Moreno, CEO of Grupo Exito, a South American retail company that offers food and non-food products.