Technology is creating hyper-empowered customers

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Technology is creating hyper-empowered customers

“New consumer behaviours are transforming the way businesses operate”

Graeme Pitkethly, CFO of Unilever, experiences on a daily basis how the explosion of technology and data is fueling growth and transforming the way organisations interact with their consumers.

“Technology is driving a new phase of exponential change and disruption, causing businesses across all industries to adapt, evolve and reorganise faster than they ever did before”, says Pitkethly. “We are seeing the emergence of hyper-empowered consumers with new behaviours and expectations - the I want what I want, when I want it - philosophy of today’s consumer is transforming the way businesses operate.”

Annual Deloitte CFO Dinner 2018

On April 25th 2018, CFOs of Dutch multinationals gathered in De Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam to have a discussion on the topic of data-driven consumer insights and the role of the CFO with Graeme Pitkethly, CFO of Unilever. “New consumer behaviours are transforming the way businesses operate”. Graeme Pitkethly, CFO of Unilever, experiences on a daily basis how the explosion of technology and data is fueling growth and transforming the way organisations interact with their consumers.

From data-rich to data-intelligent

The world’s digital transformation has only just begun. By 2020 there will be seven times more connected devices than people; and almost eight billion people on the planet. With so many individual connections enabled, being consumer-centric has never been so critical. “Over the last couple of years, we have seen a new source of competitive advantage emerge: the ability to access data on an unprecedented scale, to interpret it and to use this knowledge to deliver something of value to consumers.”


The transformational change brought about by technology is much broader than the interface with consumers. “Within our own operations, the growing digitisation and connectivity of our systems means that we have moved from a situation where we were relatively data-poor, to one where we are increasingly data-rich. The real opportunity lies in how we use this information to help us make better, faster decisions, and identify growth opportunities at speed. The move from being data-rich to data-intelligent is where most of the value is to be gained”, comments Pitkethly. “At Unilever, we’ve approached our data strategy and the digital world with exactly that lens. Our focus is on how we use data and speed to create a competitive advantage. No matter where you sit in the organisation, we’ll need to enable data to drive connectivity, deliver continuous improvement and fuel growth.”

From product-centric to consumer-centric

In order to succeed in the digital world, companies need to evolve to be more receptive, more agile and faster. They need to shift from being product-centric to being consumer-centric. The challenge is to strike the right balance between connecting with consumers on a granular level; and using scale and technology to a competitive advantage. 

 “In the end, everything we do must be in the service of our consumers. They have always set the agenda in a company like Unilever, and now through technology they are more empowered than ever.”

More information?

Would you like to know more about the CFO Program? Please contact Frank Geelen at +31 (0)88 288 4659.

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