How CPG Leaders Close the Gap Between Decision Making and Execution

Blog - CPG webinar recap 05-2024 HERO

Competitive pressures in the CPG space are high, and customer loyalty is not guaranteed. During the pandemic, consumer goods companies focused on improving their operations in response to the “new normal” that was developing — including a greater focus on building resiliency, agility, and accuracy in order to avoid stockouts and deliver on customer desires through an evolving omnichannel strategy. As the immediate pressures of the pandemic eased, the new buyer journey and expectations remained.

After years of an ongoing evolution in CPG, companies are facing new challenges today. Bain & Company’s 2024 Consumer Products Report revealed that 54 percent of leaders have been significantly affected by reduced consumer spending. With inflation continuing to impact business and few options remaining to reduce cost, companies are looking for ways to return to profitable, volume-driven growth.

These are the priorities that consumer goods leaders are adopting for their supply chains in 2024:

  • Focus relentlessly on customer service to enable volume growth
  • Unlock efficiencies while continuing to strengthen resilience
  • Manage SKU portfolios, innovations, and niche products more effectively
  • Control waste and obsolescence
  • Integrate ESG impacts into daily operations

To achieve these outcomes, your business needs the ability to make complex decisions quickly and accurately, with full visibility into how those decisions impact your end-to-end supply chain. You also need the ability to adjust plans in real time to address volatility, changes in the geopolitical environment, shipping delays, and other factors that impact operations.

Gartner® research shows that many companies find this difficult: “Closing the gap between the time spent making a decision and then executing that decision is a focus for 96% of supply chain leaders. Yet, on average, only 7% have real-time decision execution.”

Leading CPG companies are closing this gap, and gaining a competitive advantage, by digitizing and automating decision making.

The benefits of Decision Intelligence

Decision Intelligence goes beyond merely identifying disruptions or points in time where decisions need to be made. Decision Intelligence combines the best of AI, automation, and data & analytics technologies to analyze data, make recommendations, execute decisions, and write back to systems of record.

Our Decision Intelligence platform, Aera Decision Cloud™, integrates with your ERP, APS, and other technology solutions. Aera ingests data directly from transactional systems and external sources, which is then refined and harmonized into a comprehensive virtual dataset for your entire enterprise, updated in near-real-time. Aera then predicts potential outcomes, evaluates options based on business rules and KPIs, and delivers recommendations. Aera captures the decisions you make, as well their contexts and outcomes, allowing for continuous learning and optimization.

With Aera, not only are supply chain planners and other leaders making more precise and proactive decisions — they are now making decisions that used to rely on partial data or “gut feeling,” or that would have been left unmade due to lack of bandwidth.

CPG companies that have adopted Aera have overcome challenges that once prevented them from achieving their supply-chain priorities: addressing manufacturing and capacity constraints, reducing waste from product expiry, optimizing fill rates and OTIF, and more.

Building trust in AI and decision automation

A key factor in our customers’ success is the ability to build trust in AI-generated decisions. Aera delivers easy-to-understand recommendations using natural language, alongside the data behind this decision and its projected impact. This “glass-box” approach, with full traceability from data to decision, helps users understand and trust Aera’s recommendations.

Our CPG customers benefit from gradually automating more of these decisions over time based on defined business rules and KPIs. This allows planners and other decision makers to focus on the smaller percentage of high-value and strategic decisions that require additional intervention.

Aera Decision Cloud is a composable, self-service platform with capabilities for decision design, engineering, and orchestration — allowing companies to build decision-making skills to meet specific business needs, and adapt those skills as needs and priorities change.

One common question we hear is whether imperfect data will impact your ability to benefit from Decision Intelligence. The truth is, you cannot afford to wait for “perfect data” before exploring Decision Intelligence or any other advanced technology. The advantage of being able to ingest data from any number of different sources is that Aera can identify gaps and inconsistencies in data, helping you overcome common data challenges and improve quality and accuracy.

To learn how your organization can achieve the benefits we’ve described, watch our on-demand webinar, “Unlocking Value in CPG with AI-Powered Decision Intelligence,” to see how Aera can dramatically improve your decision-making processes, allowing you to achieve your supply-chain priorities in 2024 and beyond.

Gartner® is the registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

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