By Patrick Sinclair, IRI
I recently spoke at Cooler Screens’ inaugural Summit along with several CPG leaders and luminaries. The consistent theme among all the speakers was speed: how quickly consumer behavior is changing, how technology is enabling faster creative development and deployment, and how innovation on all fronts is happening at a more rapid pace than many companies can manage to respond.
In this era of fast faster fastest, how can businesses and brands keep up and, more importantly, win? It used to be that all you needed was data at your fingertips in order to gain an edge. You searched through the data, found the insights, made a decision and acted on it. But what happens when you are managing multiple products, you have more assortments that vary across individual stores, and more creative campaigns across targeted segments, formats and online/offline channels? It is impossible to be able to make the right decisions fast enough if you are spending a lot of time looking for the insights – even the fastest and smartest humans among us can only work so quickly.
The solution to this conundrum is that the right answers need to be delivered directly to you via technology that does most of the work. While there are scores of news stories indicating that machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) will eliminate everyone’s jobs, we at IRI are seeing the vast potential that ML and AI have to move the CPG and retail industry forward – by automating the generation of insights and ultimately improving decision making. We call it augmented decision making, and we believe it will soon be driving the future of our industry in positive ways. IRI’s CEO talked about this during the recent Growth Summit event.
Imagine being able to spend less time on aligning and integrating data, as well as finding the insights, and instead spending that time on finding the meaning in the data and deciding the right course of action. In an era of constant change and immediacy, making faster and better decisions is the only way to gain an edge or, in some cases, just keep up. This is the promise that augmented decision making holds for our industry.
Augmented decision making will enable companies to move faster than the speed of change, and it will be possible through vision, technology and people-centricity:
Vision: The only way change happens for the better is that a group of people believe it is possible. Those who have the vision to start leveraging the possibilities of AI and MI will be the companies that thrive. At IRI, we’ve begun using AI and ML-enabled analytics to let the machines do what they do best. In fact, for the past 40 years, we’ve continuously upgraded our technological capabilities to help our clients identify and seize new opportunities more quickly. Companies that are preparing for this future will have a clear advantage.
Technology: Granular data on a highly-scalable open technology platform like IRI Liquid Data® allows for flexibility at all levels. Whether it is integration of data from several different sources, customizable data science, data visualization and/or connectivity to other tools, having technology that does the work for you will make your job easier and free up time to focus on the strategies that will help grow your business.
People-centricity: Democratized and personalized access to insights for business users is now a must for any company that wants to effectively compete. This means sharing insights easily all across the organization, rather than the information sitting only within the insights team, so that the insights can be leveraged in different ways. And, new, relevant, fast and automated opportunity identification will allow users to focus on making those better and faster decisions, not spending time on configuring data points. Intelligent voice engagement will be another path allowing users to get answers on the go and drill down in real time when they are away from their computers, in a way that is most convenient for them.
The future is about using technology in ways that create more time and value – for your company and your customers. That future is already here. Are you ready?
Want to chat more about how you can use technology to move faster than the speed of change? Reach out to me here.