Cloud in the Consumer Products Industry | Consumer Products | Deloitte Netherlands

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The potential of cloud solutions for the consumer products industry

Accelerate innovation & enhance flexibility and scalability

Cloud solutions offer consumer products companies the possibility to act quickly and be groundbreaking. From getting closer to the end-customer to using the cloud as a driver for innovation: the opportunities are endless.

Cloud: a prerequisite for applying disruptive technologies

Cloud technology is a prerequisite for consumer products companies if they want to get serious about applying other disruptive technologies such as blockchain, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). It’s a quick and easy way to access required resources such as networks, servers, storage, applications and services, says Mark Maijs, senior manager at Deloitte. “Cloud technologies encompass flexibility and scalability. You get what you want, when you need it. It is the ultimate freedom of service. And with the overall availability of cloud services and providers like Google, AWS and Azure, it’s becoming more and more accessible.”

Three common cloud service models

When talking about cloud solutions, there are three commonly used service models:

  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) allows companies to acquire resources, such as servers, software, rack space, and network equipment, rather than purchasing them directly.
  • Platform as a service (PaaS) provides companies with facilities supporting building/delivering applications and services that can be placed/hosted on the Internet.
  • Software as a service (SaaS) gives companies the full suite of applications licensed for use as services on demand.

Possible use cases of AI in the consumer products industry

Consumer products companies have been working with cloud solutions for over a decade, says Michiel van den Heuvel, partner at Deloitte Digital Customer Solutions. “Most consumer products companies have quite a number of applications running on the cloud, or are using SaaS applications such as Salesforce. They’re slowly moving towards the IaaS and PaaS category as well, but it is still hard to find companies that are running on cloud technology end-to-end.”

 

Cloud solutions driver for innovation

Van den Heuvel sees opportunities for consumer products companies to use cloud solutions as a driver for innovation. “It is the perfect technology to start experimenting by simply setting up a sandbox and trying things in a test environment.” Especially when companies combine cloud solutions with agile ways of working, says Van den Heuvel. “By combining agility and the cloud you generate speed. If you thought of something new and wanted to build a prototype, the IT-part was always the thing that slowed you down. However by using cloud services, you can immediately put your idea in the market to validate it.”

Closer to the end-customer

With cloud capabilities, consumer products companies can be extremely on top of their game when it comes to getting to know the end-customer, says Maijs. “All data is being fed into the same system so you can analyse it and increase opportunities. If you don’t use this data, or if it isn't available because you’re still using a disperse legacy system instead of a cloud native system, you’re missing out.”

Starting out small – with help from Deloitte

Do consumer products companies need to go all-in if they want to get the most out of cloud solutions? Quite the opposite, says Maijs. “You should start small. There is no need to invest heavily at first; instead, be open and find out what works best for your company.” However, do give conscious thought to the end state, adds Van den Heuvel. “We advise a start-small approach, but with a proper rationale behind it about what the cloud can mean for your full end-to-end architecture and business.” 

Deloitte advises companies on their cloud strategy and implementation, says Maijs. “There are so many providers out there, that it’s hard to know what is the best fit for your company. That’s why we help with, for instance, vendor selection and application selection.” Moving to the cloud requires a multifaceted approach, says Van den Heuvel. “There is the business case, the IT strategy, the end-to-end architecture, but also the cyber and risk aspect. At Deloitte, we have the expertise and extensive experience advising major players in the consumer products industry on all of these aspects.”

Case studies

Mail, parcel and e-commerce corporation PostNL is one of the absolute frontrunners when it comes to working with cloud solutions. In 2012, the company kicked off an extensive cloud strategy and has since transitioned to using an end-to-end cloud architecture. PostNL uses cloud solutions for innovative projects like the MyWork app.

PostNL adopted a full cloud strategy 

Personal care corporation Kimberly-Clark has transitioned approximately 33,000 of its computer systems to the Windows 10 operating system using the SaaS model. This reduces the time required for software deployment and updates. Prior to the transition, it would take up to eight weeks to deploy and update systems, but post transition, the same activity can be completed in only two weeks, which represents a 75 percent reduction in time.

Kimberly-Clark opts for a cloud-based computer operating system to facilitate efficiencies

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