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Most organizations are built on traditional operating models, which can be characterized by siloed information and slow decision making. This impedes the ability to make optimal investment choices that move a business forward. Organizations that want to move towards a digital operating model may believe that their data isn’t ready yet and opt to wait for the “perfect time” to make the transition. 

However, the time to start transitioning towards a digital operating model is now. “The benefits of moving to a digital-native operating model are clear. It’s about getting the right insights to the right place at the right time—every time—for decision makers in your business,” says Adam Ben-Yousef, Global VP at o9 Solutions. “This enables plans to be built faster with more accurate forecasts and enables gaps to close quickly. I think this combination of high agility decision making and better allocation of resources is ultimately a source of competitive advantage.” 

Adam and Victor Farnese, Director Revenue Solution at o9 Solutions, spoke with Kit O’Conner, Global Director, Sales and Revenue at Anheuser-Busch InBev and Kiel Petersen, Global Marketing Effectiveness Director, Diageo, who shared key benefits from their organization’s digital transformation journeys. 

The opportunity to rapidly evaluate marketing investment decisions Four years ago, Diageo, which has direct operations in 60 countries, began the journey to provide digital planning capabilities to marketing teams globally. The goal was to be able to leverage data and technology to predictably forecast long-term returns from marketing investment, and use this to drive a virtuous circle of growth. Initially the program started as part of a broad productivity agenda within the business. Diageo as a whole had a 500m GBP productivity target, of which 100m was linked to improved marketing performance. Through improved investment choices—made possible by the new digital planning capabilities—Diageo cumulatively delivered approximately 400m GBP in incremental profit from its marketing since the program started, whilst also increasing investment.

“It has been an incredible journey from when we started with an initial version of a marketing effectiveness capability,” says Kiel. “We’ve grown that over the last four years… to have multiple enhanced versions of that capability supporting decision making, from both an executive leadership team and the way that we think about the level of investment that we put behind our brands in a market, all the way down to individual budget holders and the way they think about phasing their marketing investment through the calendar year, key seasonal periods… and forecasting outcomes so that they can really focus on what is really important, which is creative excellence and brilliant execution.” 

The ability to get teams to align on a digital “mindset” that leverages technology to gain market insights. 

Across larger companies, workers may have different ways of working and gathering data: analog, Excel, or digital dashboards. As more employees come into the workforce with a digital-native approach, another benefit of digital transformation is that data and insights can be gathered and managed in one place. Workers can become more comfortable working outside of spreadsheets and know that credible insights were determined through an AI/ML algorithm. 

“It’s managing the scope of lots of different information, whether it’s pricing standards, market performance, weather, etc. That’s going to influence pricing and distribution,” says Kit. “You think about the sort of touch on supply, the backups at various ports around the world. How can you bring all of those together?… Everyone’s going to agree or disagree, but the advantage to having it codified is what digital is all about.” 

Creating a catalyst for change

As part of their digital transformation efforts, the team at Diageo wanted to clearly define how they would deliver value to the organization as change agents. The team wanted to create space to disrupt the status quo processes, gain momentum around quick wins, and secure the funding needed to move digital transformations forward at a strong pace and scale, Kiel says. 

At Anheuser-Busch InBev, employees are transferred to different roles throughout the organization to gain substantial experience across the business. But one caveat is that individuals are not in roles long enough to facilitate change. The current global revenue team is focusing on giving local revenue teams the data and insights to empower them to be owners of the information. This allows employees to provide standardized insights to commercial teams, leadership teams, and P&L owners. “That’s where we are on our journey,” Kit says. “It’s saying, ‘Let’s not be prescriptive about this, let’s be collaborative and build it up. It’s not going to be a success overnight–this change agent piece–but it gives you the knowledge and data you need to succeed.” 

Implementing a digital transformation initiative has an incredible return on investment and a revenue management team can help facilitate change across the organization. “Revenue management can help tell the story—not necessarily as ‘this is the right way to do things’—but in a consistent way of saying, let’s stop pointing fingers at each other and let’s actually be the owners of a process,” says Kit. “So that it’s not a constant internal blame game and sets more of an objective.”

In conclusion, even if a company may not feel ready to make the leap, taking the time to build out digital capabilities is a worthwhile endeavor. Companies, like Diageo, that have transitioned to a digital operating model are able to create value by building out their front-end capabilities, which then become a catalyst for further investment in data infrastructure that continues to make these capabilities sustainable in the long run. 

Find out how the o9 Digital Brain Integrated planning, analytics, and data platform is transforming supply chain, revenue, and P&L decision-making across global enterprises.

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