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Cloud and consumer products: Navigating uncertain times

A blog post by Leon Pieters, Global Consumer Industry Leader

Having survived a purchasing slowdown like no other, consumer product companies now find themselves navigating changing customer spending habits and uncertain economic times. To thrive, the consumer product industry needs to drive every advantage it can—and that includes a much more purposeful and targeted use of digital and cloud computing.

With the acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines by the wider population, economic activity and expanding consumer spending are likely to pick up considerably in 2022. But that doesn’t mean consumer product companies can return to business as usual. The pandemic has brought about a tangible shift in consumer spending. This includes a rebalance of services versus goods, an increase in at-home consumption and working-from-home, and purchases being driven more and more by health, safety, trust, and quality.

Why cloud?

Cloud computing and digital technologies can help consumer product companies capitalise on new post-pandemic trends. Already a proven asset, cloud produces results in four key areas: scalability, analytics, technology on demand and global reach. Consider the following:

  • One online shopping e-commerce site reached $25 billion in sales in just 24 hours for the popular “Singles’ Day” holiday in China.1
  • Fifty-eight percent of enterprises are seeing an increase in customer retention and loyalty as a result of using customer analytics.2
  • More than 200 fully featured services are available on cloud platforms where you only pay for what you use.3
  • Using cloud technology, a major restaurant chain exceeded performance targets by up to 66% and completed 8,600 transactions per second via its point-of-sale system.4

To gain the most from cloud, consumer product companies should focus their efforts on domains where they can have the most impact. This includes the post-pandemic consumer experience, evolving workplace trends and optimising supply chains.

Cloud and the consumer

With the demands of consumers shifting as the world recovers from COVID-19, consumer product companies need high-quality customer insights now more than ever. These can help companies provide differentiated product offerings, enable them to enhance their direct-to-customer channels and offer a unified commerce experience—all consumer trends intensified by the pandemic.

Cloud can unify customer data sources in a single environment, with data captured in a cloud platform that can then be used by other applications. Cloud-based platforms can also drive targeted advertisements and automate processes to measure their effectiveness. At the same time, cloud serves as a link between platforms, ensuring that customer interactions are saved and leveraged.

Cloud and work

With markets still unpredictable due to the pandemic, flexibility and adaptability will be critical when it comes to the workplace. Organisations need the ability to mobilise their workforce through multidisciplinary teams to accommodate rapid change, all while keeping the customer experience optimised. They also need leaders who can adjust their priorities if circumstances shift and an underlying digital infrastructure that can seamlessly connect employees virtually across global networks.

Cloud can meet these workplace needs by enabling organisations to swiftly anticipate new marketplace demands. The on-demand nature of cloud also accommodates rapid responses to the dynamic business environment that organisations now find themselves in. There are a range of tools and services cloud can provide that can enhance agility in today’s uncertain markets. Many of these tools can also reduce silos and promote collaboration and communication across the organisation as well as support leadership and empower talent.

Cloud and supply chains

Suppliers, partners and customers are placing increased pressure on supply chains to be nimbler and more responsive than ever before. Consumers want to be served faster and more locally, requiring supply chain acceleration. To that end, today’s supply networks consist of multiple connected supply chains. Different products and consumers have different needs that require a differentiated supply chain setup, making optimisation across these networks increasingly complex.

To manage that complexity, cloud can help consumer product companies create transparent supply chains using real-time intelligence collected digitally from across the network. This information can be dispersed via a digital platform built for data sharing and collaboration, making a supply chain that’s optimised and data-driven. Cloud also offers the ability to connect markets, operations and network intelligence to drive supply chain optimisation and the computing power to provide instant insights and outcomes to queries.

A competitive edge

By combining advanced computing and data analytics supported by cloud, consumer product companies can make disruptive moves that can gain them a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Taken together they can:

  • Target customers with more precision and better results, using data to get a clearer picture of the customer journey, predict marketing and business outcomes, and create more personalised experiences for customers.
  • Enhance digital transformation efforts accelerated by the pandemic, building in greater agility and drawing on cutting-edge capabilities, such as AI and analytics.
  • Accelerate the development of solutions and prototypes, reducing time to market from years to weeks with the ability to adjust to fit client needs.

Cloud technology has always had the potential to bring about profound changes to the enterprise and offer unprecedented opportunities to capture value. Now, with the global pandemic prompting significant shifts in consumer behavior, deploying cloud has taken on new urgency. And only by fully understanding cloud’s potential can business leaders unlock its tangible benefits.