Recommendation and Conclusion 4

4) Business Context is Required to Operationalize Big Data, Analytics and Innovation

The “Formula for Growth” is most impactful when applied in the context of cross-functional and integrated business planning and execution. Whether small or Big Data, the goal is to consistently make better decisions to improve an organization’s planning and execution toward achieving top- and bottom-line growth objectives.

Whether focusing on small data or Big Data, the goal for any organization is to consistently make better decisions, thereby enhancing the ability to plan, execute, and drive top- and bottom-line growth objectives.  As discussed earlier, one of the key findings of this research was that the development of analytical competencies to drive improved decision making requires more than just reporting tools, systems, and dashboard-style reports. CPG companies also need to have a thorough understanding of the left-to-right business context required to make cross-functional, strategic decisions and meet financial goals. This cross-functional understanding, referred to as integrated business planning, focuses on understanding the following:

  • How does the organization collaborate cross-functionally – with vendors, suppliers, and customers – to achieve fiscal targets, and how are decisions being made at each step along this critical path?
  • What information is being sourced, used, or shared to support those decisions, where are there gaps, and how can those gaps be filled?
  • How is the organization structured to best leverage internal and external talent as part of this process?

As part of this study, Deloitte sat down with a panel of leading Marketing Researchers from the CPG Industry to have a round-table discussion pertaining to strategies for capitalizing on social data (twitter, blogs, etc.) and how to best utilize social analytics. The panel consisted of Gayle Fuguitt – over 30 years in Marketing Research at General Mills, Paul Banas – leader of Marketing Research at Kraft, and David Rabjohns – former executive at Leo Burnett and CEO of MotiveQuest. Facilitating the panel discussion was Marcus Shingles, Principal, Deloitte Consulting and Doug Palmer, Principal, Deloitte Consulting. One of the key lessons discussed was that leading with business strategy and setting the business context is important before diving into the data, reports, and analytics. As described in the interview, "if you build it, they won't come"... "[social analytics is] more than just using a tool to measure consumer sentiment".  The participants suggest that marketers need to formulate a business strategy around what they plan on using Social Analytics to accomplish before simply installing a series of tools. Examples of business objectives include better understanding consumer empathy, adjusting marketing programs in real-time, and being the voice of the consumer at the broader decision table. The roundtable participants suggest that starting with a proper business context will allow the CPG marketing organization to capitalize on a wealth of social Big Data.


Maintaining overall business context is particularly important in an environment of rapid-pace innovation (i.e., Wave 2 discussed in Recommendation and Conclusion 3).  It is this left-to-right business decision context that will allow companies to sift through the massive number of innovations to determine which should be pursued (i.e., do they contribute to achieving short- and long-term goals and targets?). 

The research suggests that without an integrated strategy, silos of the organization typically start to organically adopt emerging innovations without an understanding of the broader strategic context.  Organic adoption of technology and digital innovation may start to occur within a particular CPG company across multiple functions without a well thought-out and planned strategy. As a result, organic adoption of innovations may become so unorganized and siloed that companies will dilute the full potential of harnessing the data and information from these innovations.   

For example, a brand team in marketing may adopt a new mobile gamification app with the goal of obtaining marketing impressions as part of a digital strategy. Another brand team may also be considering this same innovation, but the initial brand team may not realize it. Concurrently there may also be another brand team in the same company that is using a mobile eCoupon app. Simultaneously, in another silo of the organization, a key sales account team may be testing the app, unaware that this activity is taking place elsewhere in the business. While these scenarios demonstrate a proactive cultural aspect of experimentation and organic creativity, these activities need to be balanced with a cohesive strategy and cross-functional approach. This will enable the organization to be more effective at harnessing the many Big Data assets produced by the innovations that can lead to valuable insights and enhanced decision making.

A proactive information management strategy encourages the business and IT to team together to define opportunities to further capitalize on innovation, Big Data, and analytics. Many of these opportunities will be realized when emerging Big Data assets are integrated with the organizations existing data assets.  A cohesive information management strategy  ensures that the adoption of new innovations ultimately support better decision making.

To further illustrate this point, the following video describes the importance of setting the proper cross-functional business context as part of a strategy to capitalize on Innovation, Big Data, and Analytics.

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Recommendation and Conclusion #5