1. Make room on your board for a senior executive who understands how data can change everything.
Consumer-facing companies know the value of data. They’ve pioneered its use for decades. But mostly their approach is backward looking. They use outdated, low-utility syndicated POS data, or data locked in a mix of isolated EPR systems and tools.
The future worlds we modeled in LA make clear the need for a chief data officer working at both operating committee and board level. Their mandate should cover three imperatives:
- Make sure the business meets growing data privacy and global regulatory requirements.
- Drive the transition from control to commercialization. The organization must have appropriate data governance that also allows it to monetize data.
- Create a smarter approach to data certification and assurance. Use new algorithms and technologies (AI, IoT, blockchain) to protect the enterprise and the network of consumers and partners.
2. Work out how to give every consumer the unique product, service or experience they want and make money.
The ability to execute personalization at scale is going to become increasingly important. To win in the worlds we modeled, companies must be able to build brands, curate products/services and design/execute customer experiences that are right for the individual and their specific context. Digital marketing technology allows for great advances in providing a tailored individual brand message, but companies need to instill new processes and incentives that drive consumer back product and service development at the individual level.
When AI is doing the buying, more products and services will become commodities. To retain brand value in the face of that shift, companies will need to work ever harder to create highly relevant, personalized consumer experiences that feel natural rather than contrived. Low involvement brands and categories with marginal differential are in peril of being displaced. Massive marketing budgets might not rescue them from simply being bought for functional utility and not for emotive connectivity.
3. Move from a rigid supply chain to a responsive, demand-driven network.
The ability to capture, synthesize and apply a single version of consumer demand is an essential capability in the future worlds we modeled. That view of demand needs to be granular, and it needs to reach every node of a responsive, demand-driven supply network.
Increasingly, the activities that generate demand will be unique for each consumer, as will the products and services a company provides. As a result, it will be critical that a company can leverage intelligent automation and machine learning to drive a more responsive supply chain network that works in real time. This kind of network must be supported by a data and analytics platform.
4. The future will be won outside the traditional structures, thinking and cultural norms that define most companies.
The pace of future change will be so fast that incremental thinking and action will be too slow. Shaping an industry and engaging the future consumer will require market moves that are bold and differentiated. Short-term, quarterly financial metrics create drag and get in the way.
Companies need to find, attract and retain talented individuals and give them the freedom to win. By establishing a culture of intrapreneurship and enablement, new ideas can flourish or fail fast. In a workforce that is increasingly millennial — striving for purpose, autonomy, and creative problem solving — talented employees want a workplace where they can thrive and play a meaningful role in their firm’s survival and success.