Aligning strategic considerations with customer expectations


In my last interview, I spoke with Malinda Salter about global trends, innovation and regulatory factors influencing businesses in the market now and in the coming years. In today’s interview, we focus in on how strategic considerations are converging with customer expectations and awareness, and how environmental, social and governance standards are driving active changes in products and service considerations for the C level. I spoke with Patrick Dittli from SAS, who is no stranger to these topics. His senior positions in retail and consumer goods businesses provide compelling and realistic perspectives.

Strategic shifts in sustainability

Jason: Patrick, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I always find it interesting in discussions with you that you stay tuned into multiple market and operational viewpoints. What strategic shifts do you see happening at the C level and at senior consulting partners around environment and sustainability?

Patrick: Environmental and sustainability topics, or ESG as they are usually referred to, standing for environmental, social and governance, have been around a long time. They are certainly not new. Over the last years, many companies have tried to package environmental and sustainability-related topics into a compelling market offering while staying competitive from a pricing perspective. Some companies were successful. A lot of others, however, struggled quite a bit.

What has changed is the circumstance that more and more millennials and Generation Z shoppers actively request products or services that meet their ESG standards and are also willing to pay a certain upcharge for it. Furthermore, such fundamental topics always need time to ripen in the mindsets of shoppers.

These changes have been well noted and understood by the C level and senior consulting partners, with the effect that the product and service offerings are being adapted to indeed make them more environmentally and socially friendly with the right governance structure set up. I believe we are currently witnessing a very positive tipping point where the critical mass of shoppers actively requesting ESG-compliant topics is reached. This is extraordinary and exciting.

Data and analytics for ESG

How do you see the role of data and analytics in executing strategic goals for sustainability?

Data and analytics play an absolutely key role in executing the strategic goals for sustainability. The sheer size of data being collected continues to grow exponentially. Transforming this data into insights, especially into environmental, social and governance insights, can be the tricky part. But with the help of today’s technology, such as SAS and Microsoft, it is elegantly possible.

SAS, for example, has a “Data for Good” initiative, where data and analytics help humanity. SAS is proud to be part of the Data for Good movement, which encourages using data in meaningful ways to solve humanitarian issues around poverty, health, human rights, education and the environment. From preventing life-threatening illnesses to protecting endangered species to rebuilding after natural disasters, organizations across the globe are harnessing data to make a difference. Applying data for social good has led to new and creative ways to address global issues.

Opportunities in new technology

Where do you see some of the more untapped opportunities coming into focus over the coming years, for example, prediction and real time?

The opportunities with data, analytics and today’s technology are endless. We live in a time where technology is converging, and this creates so many new opportunities. Personally speaking, I believe we still haven’t fully grasped the converging nature of all our technologies.

Anyhow, there are many untapped opportunities in the form of AI, for example, where looking, listening, reading, writing and integrating capabilities meet and are being packed into market offerings. Or networks, where the full potential of 5G and sensor technology is still being shaped. VR and AR make their way into so many subindustries like never before.

3D printing is another one. We all may know that the airline industry uses it already. But how about 3D printing in the energy sector, where it is already used for making batteries, wind turbines and solar cells? More opportunities can be seen in blockchains, material science and nanotechnology, biotechnology. It would go way too far here to explain the untapped nature, but one thing is for sure: The future is exciting, extremely exciting.

SAS meeting retail goals

How is SAS positioned to support the strategic goals of retail and consumer goods businesses?

SAS is the leader in analytics. SAS is a trusted analytics powerhouse for organizations seeking immediate value from their data. A deep bench of analytics solutions and broad industry knowledge keep our customers coming back and feeling confident. With SAS, you can discover insights from your data and make sense of it all. Identify what’s working and fix what isn’t. Make more intelligent decisions. And drive relevant change.

We take pride in helping so many retail and consumer goods companies to create value. Our unique solution offerings, coupled with highly competent strategic partners, make us the preferred choice by so many businesses. How can we help you?

To find out more, please join SAS at the Microsoft stand at EuroCIS.


About Author

Jason Burke

Industry Advisor at SAS

Jason is an industry advisor at SAS based in Germany as part of the Global Retail & Consumer Goods business unit. With nearly 30 years of retail experience, he has led the delivery of significant change management initiatives across retail operations covering bricks & mortar, productivity, loss prevention, Category Management and Supply Chain. Jason has a strong client focus and combines his industry experience with the market-leading capabilities of SAS to help businesses develop a clear understanding of goals and approaches that achieve real results with Advanced Analytics. "As our understanding of sustainability continues to evolve, it is crystal clear that we are at a pivotal moment for innovation – Retailers & Consumer Goods businesses are catalysts for innovation. With SAS' experience in Data For Good initiatives and our market-leading analytics capabilities, we have the opportunity to combine the wealth of data & analytics to positively influence decision making that directly impacts the planet."

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