For executives in today’s digitalized world of business, it’s not good enough to just have a strategy. One must be both visionary and far-sighted. Where will the next trend emerge? What innovations will customers demand next? Most importantly, will the organization be ready when customer preferences shift? In our work with some of the world’s largest consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies and the retailers they serve, we observe a sea change taking place that’s rapidly revolutionizing traditional business models.
Just some of the most influential factors impacting these businesses and their capability to generate continued revenue growth are:
- Declining brand loyalty
- Consumer spending habits shifting significantly to e-commerce
- Rapid innovation causing significant supply chain bottlenecks
- Increased regulatory scrutiny
In most respects, today’s customers are calling the shots. Much has been written about the shift from traditional brick-and-mortar to omni-channel retailing. We expect this evolution to continue well into the foreseeable future. Customers have the power to direct how they will buy goods and services — keeping them from heading to competitors remains a fierce priority for most CPG firms. Consumers now invest extensive time in research and decision-making before entering a traditional or virtual store, and their buying decisions can, and will, be influenced by peer-to-peer customer reviews, feedback, loyalty programs, promotions and savings generated with special offers.
Because of these factors, customer and product information matters now more than ever before. We often see that organizations have this data scattered or duplicated across multiple systems. As a result, that data can be difficult to access, or inconsistent or incomplete across channels, making it frustrating for customers to navigate through product information.
In turn, the organization’s sales, marketing, customer service and operations efforts struggle to capture the information needed to present a single, common view of customer and product information across the value chain for a consistent presentation along all channels. The goal is to have an integrated approach to maintaining both customer and product data.
Achieving a 360-Degree Review of Customers and Products
When we begin working with organizations that are struggling to adapt their processes to accommodate the changes brought about by digitalization, we often find a 360-degree review is the best way to begin restoring the company’s ability to keep up with shifting consumer demands. The comprehensive review considers how the product is manufactured and distributed while also examining all the factors and data that impact how the organization reaches out to, and maintains relationships with, its valued customers. It is not uncommon for a company to uncover critical process flaws in marketing, sales or customer service while completing the 360-degree view exercise.
Recently, we worked with a CPG organization that was struggling to keep up with digital trends while also continuing to innovate its product offerings. We helped the company understand that as customer data is consumed across several business areas (for example, marketing, sales and customer service), capturing and maintaining relevant data for each process is critical. This calls for a flexible but strong framework to ensure new data is well integrated into existing data, available and ready to use.
Our comprehensive review of product and customer data looks closely at an organization’s ability to maintain and distribute its data seamlessly in these areas:
- Internally, within the organization
- Externally, outside of the organization, covering all channels
- Regulatory and compliance issues, including protecting sensitive personal and business information
- Advanced analytics in customer, marketing, social and big-data insights
The Product Information Management Value Chain
While the demands of increasingly sophisticated consumers are critical factors in achieving a
360-degree view, it also is important to determine whether the organization has an effective product information management (PIM) strategy. PIM is a cross-functional, multidisciplinary process to maintain product information internal to the organization and external marketing, sales and distribution channels consistently.
Retailers and omni-channel solution providers expect manufacturers to take responsibility for providing data accurately, consistently and in a timely manner. This is a massive undertaking from a data maintenance and technology perspective. In addition, it poses significant risk to the organization if not maintained appropriately. Product information goes beyond specifications, features and functions and should tell a story that links back to the organization’s customer strategy. It’s a basic concept: Customers need to know the product in order to buy the product.
An effective PIM strategy is essential to manage supply chain optimization, catalog management and channel-content consistency across the B2B2C ecosystem. Harnessing the power of product information via a PIM strategy differentiates a company from the competition. A successful PIM value chain combines features spanning content collaboration, the tools used to drive customer excellence, and each of the components along the B2B2C content value chain with seamless collaboration across internal and external channels. A PIM strategy must include the following success factors to maintain highly integrated data across the value chain:
- Planning and merchandising
- Workflow management
- Syndication and integration
- Data quality and scorecards
- Governance and stewardship
Our comprehensive approach to Product Information Management (PIM) and the Customer-Value Map (CVM) explained below will enable organizations to accelerate their digital transformation journey.
PIM strategy starts with planning and merchandising existing and new products integrated into an overall product management strategy. It is vital to develop appropriate workflows to review and maintain high-quality product management data prior to syndicating and integrating into both internal and external business process applications with content collaboration to drive customer excellence. In addition to an integrated product management solution, it is important to develop comprehensive data quality scorecards to validate the data and take timely corrective actions with defined governance and stewardship models.
Driving customer excellence by integrating all customer-facing channels such as marketing, sales and customer service requires intense review of critical data elements of customer master data.
Such data is no longer limited to internal business applications of an organization but has spread its wings to external digital applications where customers choose their preferences and expect organizations to follow along. Integrating information across these channels has a significant impact on how quickly a customer order is processed or a complaint is addressed. Our comprehensive customer-value map provides a step-by-step guide to drive customer excellence by integrating all critical touch points (see below).
Develop a Comprehensive Customer-Value Map
Our approach to customer data management is holistic, taking into account all customer-facing channels in marketing, sales, customer service and outbound logistics. Developing a comprehensive customer-value map tailored to an organization’s unique needs provides a digital footprint of the customer that is unique, consistent and accurate across all channels. As customer data is consumed across several business processes and areas, capturing and maintaining relevant attributes required for each process becomes critical. This requires a flexible but strong framework, which ensures incoming data is well integrated, available and ready to use.
Our customer-value map is focused on both direct and indirect interaction channels to provide the ultimate customer experience and high-value engagement. Direct and indirect interaction channels are equally important, since a customer sees an organization as one entity, while often, business applications might very well tell a different story.
Using the findings from both the 360-degree review and the customer-value map, we are able to help CPG organizations develop a strategy and customer reference model to succeed in the digital marketplace.
The customer data reference model includes:
- A system that enables an organization to create and manage a golden 360-degree view of the customer record across channels for seamless interaction in real time
- Integrated third-party tools for de-duplication, address correction and enhancement of the customer record
- Real-time replication and syndication of data across internal and customer-facing business applications
- Comprehensive security and data privacy to protect personally identifiable information (PII) and payment card information (PCI) using advanced methods such as data masking and profiling high-risk applications with authorization controls to protect sensitive customer data
- Data quality tools added to the landscape to continuously monitor the master data record
- Accelerators like source/target mappings, data models, solution architecture, data quality business rules and governance frameworks to jump-start solution implementation and cost savings
The pace of change in and around the digital transformation movement is now a fact of life for any CPG organization. But change only generates opportunity. We are excited about the ability CPG companies now have to maximize data to anticipate the next big thing that customers will demand. Protiviti is poised to position organizations to be at the forefront of that change.
About Protiviti’s Data Management and Advanced Analytics Practice
The Data Management and Advanced Analytics Practice at Protiviti helps companies harness their data to make intelligent business decisions that drive performance and growth while managing risks. We deliver customized solutions in the areas of data strategy, advanced modeling and analytics. We help organizations by sharing leading best practices, building meaningful relationships and delivering excellence.
About Protiviti’s Consumer Packaged Goods and Retail Practice
Protiviti’s solutions for the CPG and retail industry focus on analyzing and accessing policies, processes and technology to enable companies to move at the speed of customer preference. Omni-channel in the world of omni-everything requires all elements from product development, sourcing, supply chain, distribution, store construction and management, as well as exceeding customer expectations with well-trained store associates. We help companies solve these demands with world-class solutions.