Digital thinking is critical to transforming the organization. Source: Shutterstock

Digital thinking is critical to transforming the organization. Source: Shutterstock

Nestlé on propagating digital thinking & pioneering the use of blockchains

AS COMPANIES embrace technology and add digital to their DNA, they realize that the sky is the limit. Of course, digital thinking skills are critical, and that’s what sets organizations such as Nestlé apart from its competitors.

The company has been working on the Chain of Origin project — an effort to bring more transparency into the supply chain — which has just been shortlisted for an award in the ‘Operating Model Mastery‘ category at the IDC Digital Transformation Awards.

Ahead of the award ceremony, Tech Wire Asia caught up with Nestlé Digital Technology Manager Armin Nehzat to learn how the company propagates digital thinking and its success pioneering the use of blockchains in the Chain of Origin project.

“The company, on a global level, has seen the need to develop in a digital way.

“We launched a global program called DAT (Digital Acceleration Team) where members of the brand teams are exposed to digital projects.

“Members of the DAT also have the ability to go on missions to other Nestlé offices in order to propagate digital thinking and complete briefs based on brand & consumer problems and needs, usually on smaller budgets and condensed timelines.

For the Chain of Origin project, the company took a similar approach and started with an initial proof of concept that did not require an investment. That helped the team present the business case and secure funding for development.

According to Nehzat, the Chain of Origin project has been a tad more challenging than most others.

“It has been testing how quickly we can move as an organization to completely review how we do business. From sourcing products at the micro lot level, all the way through to tracking products individually to the end consumers.

In order to succeed, the company adopted a “start-up” mindset approach, deploying small teams with the ability to solve problems on the go.

However, Nehzat plans on taking the learnings from this project and transferring them to things that the organization pursues in the future.

“While we are starting the transformation on a small scale with a new brand, we are looking to see how this could scale to other product offers. So I guess it’s more of a long term journey rather than a short term bet.”

Harnessing consumer insights is key to success with technology

“Curiosity in data & insights is more important than funding when it comes to digital transformation.”

According to Nehzat, the biggest challenge [to digital transformation] will always be working with consumer insights.

However, much of Nestlé’s success with technology and innovation is a result of its intense focus on customers.

Across the globe, the company collects tonnes of data about customers, their tastes, preferences, choices, and more — and uses it to not only make better product development and marketing decisions but also decisions about how to effectively reduce their carbon footprint, ensure safety and authenticity of products, and optimize its supply chain.

Be it through the DAT, or internally within brands, Nestlé is constantly working on making sense of data and uncovering customer insights in order to transform the business — delighting customers everywhere.

Success comes to those that find the right technology for the job

Companies are often enamored by new and exciting technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain — and jumpstart projects leveraging one technology, only to realize that it wasn’t best suited for the job.

This is probably why a majority of digital transformation projects fail — according to studies.

In contrast, when companies — such as Nestlé — uncover a pain point or need and then hone in on the technology or set of technologies that can help alleviate the problem, potentially award-winning solutions are created.

The Chain of Origin project taps into the powers of blockchain because of all the work that the organization has done with the technology, and the understanding it has gained about harnessing its potential.

“People think digital maturity is been able to use buzzwords like “blockchain”. The reality is that you always need to think what value it adds to the consumer.

“We believe that blockchain is the enabler for organizations like Nestlé to deliver supply chain transparency but the ultimate value is ensuring freshness to consumers.”

In the future, the Swiss multinational food and drink processing conglomerate corporation is expected to embark on other exciting digital projects — with blockchain and other technologies.

So long as the company focuses on using customer insights to drive innovation, leveraging the right technology, and inspiring digital thinking among members of staff, its digital transformation should ideally stay on the right path.