“Digital transformation is coming to the CPG business,” says Darrell Stein, CIO of Reckitt Benckiser, a multinational consumer packaged goods company based in the UK with 2014 revenues of £8.8 billion. Focused on health, hygiene and home products, RB’s portfolio of brands includes Calgon, Clearasil, Lysol, French’s Mustard and Vanish. With operations in 60 countries and sales in almost 200 countries, RB is a top-five CPG company, going head-to-head against other global CPG giants in a brutally competitive market.

cpgSince joining in May 2014, Stein has made significant changes to transform RB into a more nimble global player. These include ample use of business intelligence and predictive analytics. He says, “Today, a lot of [an RB marketer’s] job is working with data which is after the event. Predictive analytics is about doing that before, so your market share doesn’t go bad. It completely should revolutionize the way that marketing does their job.”

Getting a handle on global data

Stein arrived at Reckitt Benckiser during a particularly high-growth period. The company was experiencing rapid international growth, with 50% of its net revenues coming from outside the UK. Each country’s point of sale and data systems were unique, so there were no common mechanisms to extract reporting from them or analyze the sales data. Replacing the patchwork of systems with a common data collection infrastructure was not feasible.
Still, without reliable sell-in/sell-out visibility and analytics, it was impossible for RB to proactively manage its business on a global basis. For example, Stein says, “A lot of our products are all about colds and flu. We need to work out when there’s going to be a cold and flu season [in a specific market] and get in front of the competition.”

A complete global view, with local agility

Reckitt Benckiser chose Birst to get a unified, global view of its sales data, while giving unique regions the ability to see data their way, for faster, proactive data-driven decision-making.

Using Birst’s two-tier analytics technology, RB was able to quickly implement separate business intelligence instances by country, with central BI for overall company analytics. Implementation was executed in a rapid, agile fashion across 22 local markets, with minimal IT involvement; four to eight countries went live with Birst every few weeks. With instances in the U.S., Dublin, Singapore and on-premises in the UK, RB’s Birst solution consolidates data daily while giving local regions real-time insight into developing trends.

A competitive advantage in a global market

For CPG companies such as RB, developing countries provide significant opportunities for growth. The winners will be those who can utilize trusted data and better analytics, and then apply it, very granularly, to local points of sale and markets.

Equipped with Birst, the next-generation standard for enterprise BI and data analytics, RB is in well positioned to extend its market leadership. Wilmer Peres, Head of BI and Analytics at Reckitt Benckiser, says, “This is the first analytics implementation with the performance and data breadth that we see will get universal adoption.”

The preceding is a blog post originally published in CIO on September 17, 2015.