How Consumer Product Leaders Are Approaching Digital Transformation in the Era of AI


We recently wrapped up a messaging exercise in the division of Veeva Systems that partners with the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) and Food & Beverage (F&B) industries. These exercises can land in an awkward, often inauthentic, but albeit aspirational place. Here’s what I mean. Our new tagline is “Seamless Digital Solutions Powering Brands Beyond Boundaries.” Do you feel me?!  But here’s the strange part, it’s kind of true. 

Over the past six months, a number of our top CPG and F&B customers – some of the largest companies on the planet - have accelerated their IT rationalization efforts. It’s odd to see so many companies orient around an IT initiative in mass. The good news is that Veeva is one of the leading platforms benefitting from application consolidation and rationalization. And the result? We really are powering brands beyond boundaries.  

There is a clear driver behind this transformation. Yep, you guessed it: Artificial Intelligence (AI). Or, at least, the need to develop an IT posture to take advantage of the AI revolution that’s coming. Allow me to explain.

AI’s Potential Hindered by Existing IT Landscape

In today’s explosively shifting technology landscape, IT organizations are under immense pressure to adapt to rapid advancements in AI. And I’m sure that it only inflames IT’s anxiety when senior executives cite reports, like the following: 

IT organizations are already navigating the various headwinds facing AI adoption with in their companies, all of which is well documented.:

  • Data Quality and a Consistent Taxonomy: Ensuring clean, well-organized, and well-defined data across diverse systems to train AI models effectively.
  • Skill Gaps: Addressing the lack of AI expertise and the need for ongoing training among IT staff and end-users.
  • Security and Privacy Concerns: Safeguarding sensitive data and maintaining compliance with regulations when deploying AI solutions.
  • AI Governance: Establishing an ethical AI governance framework to ensure that AI initiatives align with a company’s ethos.
  • Change Management: Overcoming resistance to change within organizations and managing the impact of AI on workforce dynamics.
  • Cost and ROI: Balancing the significant investment in AI technologies against the expected benefits and return on investment (ROI).

While these issues can conspire to slow the adoption of AI, there is another often overlooked blocker to the value unlock of AI: brittle legacy and often bespoke IT landscapes that exist in most enterprise companies. Reflecting on the nearly decade of non-stop digital transformation initiatives, it's clear that the adoption of bespoke vendor solutions and custom IT solutions is holding back innovation and is no longer a viable IT approach. 

A tapestry of third-party custom solutions and home-grown systems can create significant obstacles for IT organizations in adopting AI due to the complexity and fragmentation these solutions introduce. Such environments can lead to inconsistent data formats and taxonomies, siloed data repositories, and expensive integration challenges, all of which complicate the deployment of AI technologies. Additionally, the lack of a unified platform can make it difficult to scale AI solutions across the enterprise, hindering the ability to leverage AI for insights due to disparate data ecosystems. There is also an inherent maintenance cost associated with these environments, further burdening IT staff and diverting resources away from the original business driver: automated innovation. Or for the customers that we partner with in CPG and F&B: product discovery at speed!

The Foundation to Realize AI’s Promise: Modern Platform Solutions

Modern platform solutions offer a solution through a consolidated approach. Unifying applications on a common platform streamlines user adoption, enhances security, and promotes clean, standardized data crucial for the training of AI models. A modern SaaS platform hosting an array of business applications for R&D, supply chain, and manufacturing can significantly enhance an enterprise's “organizational readiness” for AI. Here’s one of our industry-leading customers sharing their perspective: 

Centralizing data across business functions on a unified platform unlocks powerful value for consumer product companies like Reckitt. The platform facilitates integration, streamlines workflows, and reduces the complexity of managing disparate systems, enabling IT teams to focus on strategic AI deployments. Furthermore, with built-in scalability, security, and compliance features, such platforms provide a robust foundation for leveraging AI technologies to drive innovation and operational efficiency across the enterprise.

Veeva Systems' Vault Platform exemplifies this shift, providing a flexible and integrated environment that supports clean data and common taxonomies, crucial for training AI models. The Veeva Vault Platform and suite of applications can significantly enhance an enterprise's AI readiness by providing a robust and flexible data management infrastructure featuring: 

  • The Vault Object Framework facilitates the creation of custom objects to structure business process data, essential for AI algorithms. 
  • Modern and consistent visual frameworks and workflows streamline the implementation and management of AI-driven processes. 
  • Integrated reporting and dynamic security ensure data integrity and compliance, vital for AI applications. 
  • Open REST-based APIs allow for seamless integration with external AI services, while comprehensive content management supports the organization and analysis of AI-relevant data. 

Together, these features create an agile, secure environment conducive to AI innovation and implementation. 

Unlocking Business Potential: Unified Platforms Key to AI Transformation

Embracing such platforms not only improves ITs readiness to leverage AI, these platforms also offer inherent IT operating leverage. One of Veeva’s customers is well down this path, having implemented several Veeva applications and thus creating the technical posture to support their ambitious AI plans. To date, this company has retired over 15 internal and bespoke third party tools, consolidating much of the product journey – from inception to market – on the Vault platform. But the realized value is not limited to the notion of vendor consolidation. The true value is measured across several IT and business categories, including:

  • Common security and compliance platform ensures all applications, customizations and extensions conform to a common security construct.
  • Consistent user experience speeds user adoption across various applications.  Thus reducing change management challenges when introducing new applications to user communities.
  • Fewer integrations across applications and disciplines, reducing costs and data inconsistencies that plague integration projects.
  • An extensibility framework to reach specific business use cases through custom fields, extending page layouts, creating custom objects and deploying specific workflows…all while preserving the upgrade path across all applications
  • Common product data model which threads through every application enforces a common taxonomies across R&D, supply chain and Manufacturing functions.  This common product data model is foundational for training AI models to achieve automated product discovery at speed.

We also have another Veeva customer that is actively leveraging AI models to intersect consumer preference information against their data hierarchy models to unearth new brand extensions. This company had a CIO who embraced a cloud first mindset over the past decade. The benefit? Today, this company is discovering new reformulations across hundreds of brands by leveraging a clean product data set with AI models. 

The reorientation across Veeva’s customer community is enlightening. Many of our largest consumer goods partners are actively engaged in application rationalization strategies, favoring the consolidation of data and applications onto core IT platforms – all for the purpose of advancing an IT posture to realize the promise of AI. 

Tomorrow is here. Are you ready?





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