“The tail should not wag the dog” is how I believe any new technology, system or process should be designed and implemented.
Having come from an FMCG commercial background before joining AgilityWorks, I have previously watched businesses introduce a shiny new piece of IT, then build their ways of working around it. Frequently in such cases the technology is not an enabler of ‘Commercial Excellence’ nor does it make the life of the end users easier, and yet it absolutely should.
Both with AgilityWorks, and previously working for FMCG companies in roles from field sales and national accounts, to operations, commercial marketing and revenue growth management I have seen ‘inside’ many diverse businesses, both in the UK and across Europe. The best, in terms of technology enabled ‘Commercial Excellence’, are those where the people and the users are at the fore. Businesses at the other end of the technological “dog” however appear to be suffering a form of “Stockholm Syndrome”: held resignedly hostage by their systems and processes.
To meet the many challenges that FMCG companies now face, achieving ‘Commercial Excellence’, around understanding consumer behaviours, optimising marketing and promotional spend, is critical for margin protection, price growth and long-term sustainability. Having the ability to plan effectively, measure and control spend, through value adding technologies and systems, with consistent data and clear reporting, is increasingly vital. Ensuring that this technological enablement is delivered with the end user in mind however should be equally important, but it appears frequently to have been forgotten.
The role of a National Account Manager, for example, is hard enough given the current retail environment, so new technologies and systems should be designed to help them in their day to day roles, to collaborate more efficiently and to enhance their ways of working. An implementation project should therefore be viewed as a catalyst for positive change. Confirming that the shiny new technology will though help account managers and commercial teams by making their role easier, rather than forcing them into a process because “the computer says no”, should always be the first step to ensuring that the dog is wagging the tail, rather than vice versa.