Data factors into every single decision we make as humans. “People are biological computers processing data,” says Vikram Somaya, Chief Data Analytics Officer at PepsiCo. “We’re taking in all the information from the world around us and it’s influencing what we do.”
The reason data is receiving so much attention these days (and warrants entire teams at companies like PepsiCo) is that we have increasingly sophisticated ways to understand all that information and use it to make better decisions, products and experiences for consumers – the analytics part of data and analytics. “Analytics is deriving something meaningful from raw information,” Vikram explains. “We’re getting meaning out of the data.”
Combine the two and you have a wealth of information and insights that have profound implications at every level of the business. “There isn’t anyone who’s not impacted by data and analytics, regardless of what you do,” Vikram says. “Whether that’s someone working in a field or a farm, somebody’s who’s delivering a product to one of our customers, somebody who’s working on a financial spreadsheet — they’re all working with data and analytics.”
Learn more about how data and analytics is propelling PepsiCo’s business forward and transforming associates’ jobs for the better.
While data is a basic concept, it’s powering complex innovations that are changing the way we interact with the world — artificial intelligence, facial recognition and virtual reality to name a few. And data is having a groundbreaking impact at PepsiCo. “Data and analytics enable everyone at the company to do things better,” Vikram says. “We’re uncovering insights that can provide breakthroughs that ultimately allow us to bring more value to the consumer and make our associates’ work easier.”
Here are some data-powered innovations happening at PepsiCo:
1. Real-time updates on food to keep it fresh
Minutes matter as food travels to the shelves. Data can get it there faster and fresher by tracking where shipments are moment-by-moment and the temperature at which the food is being stored. PepsiCo is using unique Bluetooth-enabled sensors that can monitor the condition and pinpoint the location of any shipments. “That data optimizes our systems and allows us to understand where our resources are,” Vikram says. And, he explains, having that detail of information allows us to be more efficient across our entire supply chain, which can help the company save fuel, reduce food waste and stay ahead of customer demand.
2. Brand innovation inspired by analytics
Gatorade is using data and analytics to optimize the way athletes exercise and the way PepsiCo develops new products. One of the most insightful tools is the Gatorade Gx Sweat Patch. After exercising while wearing the Sweat Patch, consumers upload their workout data to receive personalized recommendations for hydration and nutrition. But it’s not a one-way conversation: Based on data about the foods and drinks consumers refuel with, Gatorade can provide even better post-workout options in the future.
“We're building an environment of consumers around Gatorade who are actually giving us information back,” Vikram says. “That information can then be used to refine our products, it can be used for research and development.”
3. Potato farmers developing more sustainable ways to grow
Farmers are an essential part of the company's pep+ ambition to spread regenerative farming practices across 7 million acres by 2030. Now data is connecting farmers, providing a new path to meeting those goals. Farmers in Europe have gathered more than 1 million data points from over 118,000 acres of potato fields through PepsiCo’s iCrop technology. Data on soil type, weather, irrigation and water usage enable farmers to assess crop performance and develop practices to improve yields. The results have nearly doubled water irrigation accuracy in some cases. “We’re helping farmers with analytics that allows them to maximize efficiency,” Vikram explains. “The more analytics we’re able to give them, the more efficiently they can use their land, their water and improve our supply chain at the source.”
4. Data upskilling programs for all associates
“Given the breadth of what’s happening in the data and analytics space, we want to give associates a way to leapfrog with access to knowledge today,” Vikram says. One of the company’s solutions is the Digital Academy. Through on-demand courses on topics including Data & Analytics, Cloud Technology, Machine Learning, and more, associates at all levels can start growing digital skills that apply to a wide range of roles. “We offer a variety of different learning formats to distill the information and upskill anyone, regardless of who you are and where you started.”
Data has become essential to every stage of the shopping process. Store owners rely on sales stats to know what is and isn’t flying off the shelves. Algorithms make suggestions on what should be in your cart based on your previous clicks. And PepsiCo has an even more sophisticated way to predict what consumers will do next.
Called pepviz, this intersection of data, analytics and industry expertise enables frontline sales teams to identify the stores with the biggest potential for growth and curate the best inventory to meet consumer demand.
"Data helps us to understand what’s happening, but our research helps us to understand why that’s happening,” says Ellen Webb, Senior Director of Category Leadership at PepsiCo. “We have experts who know the business itself, who are working with the customers day in and day out, and they are partnering with data science experts. We’ve brought these two teams together and that’s where the magic happens.”
Here’s how pepviz is making an impact on the future of shopping now:
Pepviz goes beyond suggesting ways to keep up with demand: The insights can forecast what should be on shelves in the future. “Understanding the product assortment you have in your store is absolutely critical,” Ellen says, “because if you don’t have what consumers are looking for, then we’ve all failed them.”
One of pepviz’s biggest strengths is its ability to understand the needs of the consumer at a specific location. Store owners can see if spicy flavors are doing well, for example, or if consumers want more caffeine-free drink options. “We’re able to make the best plan for that individual store and give them results that are very specific and quantifiable,” Ellen says.
Untapped growth potential
“With pepviz we can see the future sales potential for a store,” Ellen says. “Instead of looking back historically at sales data, we can look forward with a plan for where we think a store can grow.” She says that allows sales teams to prioritize differently and spend time in the field with customers helping them grow their business.
“Pepviz has helped us become better listeners and be more inventive and creative,” Ellen explains. “Because of a partnership with a customer we’re able to create something that didn’t exist before, which is incredibly exciting.”