P&G is proud to be part of The Consumer Goods Forum.  We are engaged at every level of the CGF’s agenda from our CEO’s active participation on the Board of Directors to P&G leadership on the various initiatives like Environmental Sustainability and the End-to-End Value Chain. My role at P&G has led me to be heavily involved in collaborative projects that are helping our industry to find solutions that benefit the entire value chain and, more specifically, how we can give consumers the information they want, how and when they want it.

One such project has been I2C – Innovation in Collaboration (CGF publication coming soon) and another on the “Data Leapfrog” pilots that P&G have been working on alongside some 40 other CGF members, both retailers and manufacturers.

In today’s digital environment, products will go unsold unless they are associated with accurate, timely information that enables consumers to make purchasing decisions. That information amounts to hundreds or even thousands of attributes – from photos to package sizes and ingredients to sustainability profiles. And the list of possible product attributes continues to grow, as shoppers demand more information.

Unfortunately, product data today is rarely accurate, complete or timely. Many surveys suggest that in some cases product data accuracy is less than 50%. Causes can range from a lack of accurate product identifiers, a lack of internal accountability for product data, a reliance on older, legacy systems and an approach to data sharing that inhibits speed and innovation. And, previous attempts to overcome these challenges have failed.

The Leapfrog pilots, however, are an attempt to try something new, to try a different approach to solving the problem, as unencumbered as possible by legacy thinking or technologies. They will enable the FMCG Industry to integrate new and emerging technologies into the identification and management of products and product information across the Value Chain.

And, following the CGF Board’s approval of five such pilots back in June 2018, each of which brings together coalitions of willing companies to design and test ways in which new technology could help solve the product data problem, a great deal of progress has since been made.

It has been a really interesting project to be involved in and I’d encourage anyone who works in this space to look out for upcoming SpringBoard Events, also part of the E2E Value Chain work, where industry experts meet to exchange best practices and learnings.

Through such pilots and events, we have seen that:

  • technology works. Machine learning and related technologies can indeed address many of the industry’s problems in generating and sharing product data.
  • technology will not deliver without organisational change. Companies must also address organisational silos and legacy mindsets.

We know with a lot of certainty now that new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchains and Data Ports present a promising future for data creation and data exchange that is more responsive and accurate than current approaches. The Leapfrog pilots and SpringBoard Events are bringing these technologies to life through the creation of industry approaches that aim to enable efficient interoperability across systems.

I’d encourage you to reach out to the E2E Value Chain team at the CGF to learn more about how your company can get involved in this very important work on addressing the challenges associated to product data accuracy and completeness, and those more generally impacting efficiency along our value chains around the world.

This post was written and contributed by:

Jeff Schomburger 
Global Sales Officer
Procter & Gamble