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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Procter & Gamble and Microsoft: Data and Digital Transformation

Microsoft talks about how they work with key customers.   Notably with my former employer, where I worked on many related problems, and can agree that using data effectively was well understood to be key.  Fairly good detail here about using Microsoft Azure.

For Procter & Gamble, data is at the heart of digital transformation

August 17, 2021   Microsoft

For more than 180 years, Procter & Gamble (P&G) has built a thriving business by challenging norms and delighting consumers. Its range of household products, from toothpaste and soap to paper towels and laundry detergent, can be found in millions of homes—in nearly every country on Earth.

True to its innovative nature, P&G sees data and algorithms as a way to constructively disrupt how it operates, leading to growth. P&G developed a multicloud-driven data strategy—and data culture—that informs every decision the business makes to fuel its future success.

In order for P&G to understand and best serve consumers, we need to drive a data-enabled culture and operationalize algorithms into every major business decision. 

Guy Peri: Chief Data & Analytics Officer, P&G

“The way we approach excellence as a company is to get the right product, the right package, the right communication, and the right in-store execution,” says Guy Peri, Chief Data & Analytics Officer for P&G. “Pretty much everything about how we do that with our customers and the consumers who buy our products is changing—and data and algorithms are central to staying ahead of that change.”

Lots of data, but out of reach

Given its broad scope and long history, P&G had numerous data points about its business, including what drives sales and product preferences. But the data resided in geographically dispersed silos, and P&G’s legacy systems couldn’t link the hundreds of disparate data types to gain collective insights.

P&G sought a platform that could unlock those silos and provide a single view for business users. At the same time, company leaders realized that they needed to foster a data-driven culture—a growth mindset that put data and analytics at the forefront. AI, machine learning, and advanced analytics were all seen as crucial to becoming a true digital leader.

P&G found what it needed with the powerful suite of Microsoft Azure data and AI solutions, such as Azure Synapse Analytics, Azure Data Lake Storage, and Power BI. “Azure is helping optimize the impact of digitization across Procter & Gamble, from democratizing AI with no-code features to embedded capabilities in Power BI,” says Peri. “We appreciated the scale, flexibility, and analytical muscle of Azure. The stack can go up and down depending on our business needs. It also gives us leading data and algorithm capabilities with both the Azure Synapse back-end and front-end Power BI tools.”

For us, only two variables are important: performance and scale. Can we scale at a cost-effective rate? With Azure and the co-innovation we did together, we’re able to get positive outcomes on both fronts. 

Guy Peri: Chief Data & Analytics Officer, P&G

With these scalable, dynamic data solutions, P&G is bringing the power of data to bear on three key challenges: creating a resilient supply chain, improving retail execution, and delivering superior products and packaging.

A more resilient supply chain

P&G data scientists and business analysts combine information from existing and new data sources inside the data lake to create predictions that help ensure consumers can get the products they need, when they need them.

Better retail execution

P&G is using granular analytics capabilities to ensure that retail partners are putting the right products and right in-store displays in front of consumers. 

Superior products and packaging

P&G is using data and analytics in its products and packages to shift from a point-in-time assessment to a real-time, sense-and-respond approach. A key component of this shift is a global architecture with automated collection of data to fuel analysis that uncovers insights, speeds the innovation process, and determines manufacturability and cost optimization.

“We need to act with agility to be competitive with the fast startups in the world,” says Peri. “But we also need to act with precision to leverage our scale for competitive advantage. Data algorithms help us do both. So, the faster we can bring data insights to our decision makers, the more competitive we’ll be.”

Neighborhood analytics and smart selling

In addition to gaining important insights at a global level, P&G has been able to do the same at a local level. One initiative, called “Neighborhood Analytics,” helps P&G understand at a local level how consumers shop and what they need. By combining external and internal data sources, the company can more effectively partner with retail customers to expand specific categories for consumers.

A second initiative, called “Smart Selling,” gives P&G insight into what its distributors are doing in developing markets. By using big data and AI, the company can help distributors be precise when ordering products. “COVID-19 is a great example of where we’ve been able to use these tools to be much more precise,” says Peri. “We overlaid our Azure analytics capability with COVID-19 data and then understood exactly where we had the biggest risk of out-of-stock opportunities to address or where we anticipated the need for inventory.”

Creating a data-driven culture

Beyond specific use cases, P&G is also using Azure to create a strong data culture that makes employees aware of the power of data and how to use it every day.

The ease of use with Azure fosters P&G’s data culture from the technology side, making it easy for employees to understand data, manipulate it, and use it to inform major decisions. These decisions, in turn, positively affect P&G’s ability to better serve consumers and constructively disrupt how the company operates.

“Our data culture is a combination of data technology, work processes, and reward systems,” says Peri. “If we have only one or two of those things, we’re not going to deliver the outcomes we want. We have partnered closely with our line business leadership and our function leadership to really transform in a way that constructively disrupts how we operate.”

A foundation for the future

Looking ahead, P&G will connect more data types and find new ways to delight its customers—and the consumers who fill their homes with P&G products. And it will continue to strengthen its data culture, operationalizing algorithms into key decision processes across the company. Procter & Gamble may be 183 years old, but its future has never been brighter. ...

Very few vendors can serve our needs at scale, given how much data we’re processing. Azure Synapse Analytics can, and Microsoft’s vision on how to scale is among the best in the industry. 

Guy Peri: Chief Data & Analytics Officer ....

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