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By Patrick Dolan, National Managing Partner -Market Development & National Line of Business Leader, KPMG LLP
As the pace of technological change continues to rapidly accelerate, Chief Information Officers (CIOs) of food and beverage manufacturers and retailers are facing intense pressure to prepare their organizations to drive growth, mitigate risk and seize emerging opportunities. A new wave of technologies just over the horizon promises to forever alter buyer behavior, thereby either disrupting the traditional relationship between consumers and food and beverage companies or providing the opportunity to strengthen that relationship.Wearables, ingestibles, 3-D printing, connected devices, artificial intelligence, and other peripheral technology are all concepts that food and beverage companies must understand – and company leaders will look to CIOs to make sense of it all. Many of these technologies are really not that far off into the future. Some are in use today in pilot form. And they are all likely to have an impact on food and beverage companies. To seek competitive advantage from technology disruption, rather than be blindsided by it, food and beverage CIOs also need to look ahead of the current technology market to innovations that are just beginning to gain traction in the sector–innovations such as wearables or ingestibles. Fortunately, food and beverage CIOs are already on the right track in directing IT activities today. With the buying power of millennials surpassing $1.3 trillion in 2015 and continuing to skyrocket, most CIOs will not be shocked by the revelation that 20th century consumption is changing forever, and that tomorrow’s marketplace will only be more consumer-driven. Seventy-seven percent of the respondents in our recent Food, Drink, and Consumer Goods Industry Outlook Survey said consumer empowerment is having a significant impact on their business–far more than any other technology trend. We have seen food and beverage companies begin to benefit from today’s more digital, personal, convenient and collaborative model of consumption, oftentimes led by the CIO. By investing in mobile and social technologies, data and analytics, and supporting technologies, they are driving to advance technology systems, platforms and processes in order to leverage available data to deliver powerful consumer insights that can inform better decision-making and power stronger performance.