Settle down, children, I have a story for you.
Have you ever wondered how the porridge you eat for breakfast got as far as our kitchen table?
Heroic teams known as ‘FMCG businesses’ work hard every day to manufacture foods and drinks and toothpastes and treats, and millions of other things, so that we can live a happy life. But making things isn’t enough. They have to get them to the places we call shops and that’s a space planning adventure.
These businesses all have enemies – called competitors – who want to replace the products you love, with others that you might or might not love. But that’s not all. It’s an eternal battle to keep the right amount of porridge in a shop. It’s actually known as the Goldilocks problem – the shops need to have just enough porridge; too much is almost as bad as too little. But none at all, well that’s enough to make daddy bear sound like a Wookiee.
Competitors aren’t the only enemies of these companies. At least competitors mostly operate in plain sight. No, the most dangerous enemies are invisible. You can’t see, smell, touch, or hear them. Some call them data. Others say information, or knowledge. But let me tell you a secret: they are shape-shifters, essentially all the same, so let’s just call them data.
However, you need to be on your guard at all times. Because data can be your worst enemy – but it can also be your best friend.
There is an ancient curse in the business universe, known as ‘Darth by PowerPoint’. And yet something called Excel can be deadlier, with its exploding pivots and malign lookups. FMCG teams which put all their shop data into Excel soon discover that data is their enemy. Even those who go beyond Excel can be caught out, with slow and very expensive outsourced alternatives.
How’s that porridge? More honey? No, you needn’t lose sleep over data. Because bad data can be Conkered. Many wise FMCG teams have discovered how to do this, and their products are always waiting for us in the shops. What’s more, the people who run the shops love them because they are so collaborative, so helpful with insights. In fact those shop owners smile when they hear that the sales force will be with them.