The New Mission for IT in Consumer Packaged Goods

GMA Information-Technology Benchmarking 2013

By Ashwin BhaveBill BeaverJeff Gell, and Marc Schuuring

For years, the mission of chief information officers (CIOs) at consumer-packaged-goods (CPG) companies was clear: to deliver efficient and reliable systems at the lowest cost possible. Information technology was typically seen as a cost center, not a key lever of strategy.

That view, however, is becoming more and more outdated. With the emergence of innovative new technologies—from social media to mobile devices to big data—CPG companies have a rapidly expanding number of options for reaching out to and interacting with consumers to better understand consumer behavior. This is triggering a fundamental rethinking of the role that IT should play in capitalizing on these opportunities. And with the painful impact of the recession finally receding, companies are increasingly focused on growth—and technologies to power that growth. Accordingly, the debate about IT’s mission will only intensify.

To understand how CPG companies are responding to this new world, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and The Boston Consulting Group conducted an in-depth IT-benchmarking survey. GMA last undertook such a survey in 2010. The current report, drawing on data from 27 leading CPG companies, reveals how new technologies are remaking CPG IT and transforming the role of IT leaders throughout the industry.