Pollen Consulting launches Technology arm for FMCG supply chains

05 July 2019 Consultancy.com.au 5 min. read

Pollen Consulting Group has launched a Technology practice focused on helping clients build and develop world class digital supply chains. 

The new arm will help the firm’s clients – Pollen Consulting Group focuses on the fast moving consumer goods industry (FMCG) – with embedding digitisation in their supply chain. “Harnessing the right technology underpins success in a challenging marketplace,” said Paul Eastwood, the firm’s founder and chief executive. 

Against a backdrop of heightened competition, changing consumer behaviour and shifting power structures in the FMCG-retail chain, supply chains are under pressure to deliver more, faster, while operating greener. Technology is seen a major answer to many of such challenges faced. From the likes of implementing better systems to enable integration in primary processes, to adopting digital to run smart factories or leveraging analytics to gain strategic insights, “digitisation can optimise businesses and ensure the journey towards being relevant tomorrow,” remarked Eastwood.

Executives in the supply chain realm feel no different. In a Roland Berger survey of 200 operations executives globally, three quarter of respondents stated that they believe more digitisation is needed to meet the growing demands of the business. Unleashing technology in operations is believed to, among others, enable a better forecasting accuracy, reduce slow-moving and obsolete inventory and lower the number of stock-outs to the benefit of customers. 

Pollen Consulting launches Technology arm for FMCG supply chains

Bringing such digital supply chain transformation to fruition is however no easy task. Sydney-based Pollen Consulting Group specialises in helping its clients such as Woolworths bring value-chain and operational transitions to a successful end, with the firm’s new Technology practice now extending this mission into the digital domain. Eastwood: “We help our clients map their supply chain in order to identify the digitisation potential, setup the foundations for further enhancements and with the execution.” 

However, “we are not a software developer, nor are we a licence seller,” said Oliver North, who heads up the Pollen Technology wing. “We identify and test the best fit supply chain technologies and then have the capability to deliver solutions.” Formally a chartered engineer for Rolls-Royce, North has been a consultant with Pollen Consulting Group for five years, gradually developing a passion for technology within FMCG and retail manufacturing. 

Step change technologies

Central in the firm’s offering are two elements which North believes are paramount to any successful digital supply chain: Digital Twins and Live Decision Analytics. While these powerful technologies are more widespread in sectors such as aerospace or oil and gas, they still are in their infancy in the FMCG sector. “We want to encourage adoption of innovation and become the go-to consultancy for the most applicable forward-facing technology in the sector,” said North.

The Digital Twins service focuses on helping clients create a digital replica of their operations, and then using this real-life ‘copy’ to accurately test all kinds of scenario’s. Using simulations of future scenario’s, forecasting can be improved drastically, especially in fields which show large variation such as new product launches or SKUs that are heavily reliant on partner / import channels. Demonstrating the potential held by digital twinning, US strategy consulting giant Boston Consulting Group in February this year acquired an Australian technology and software company that specialises in the matter, The Simulation Group.

“We want to encourage adoption of innovation and become the go-to consultancy for the most applicable forward-facing technology in the sector.”

Live Decision Analytics centres around using data smartly to bolster decision-making. This extends further than traditional data analytics used for performance improvement – “the challenge is no longer about being able to measure and access data – the challenge for organisations tomorrow is how to identify the information required to support optimal decision making.” He added, “Advances in data availability mean that we must be smarter in using it to our benefit and advances in computing power mean we can do this cost effectively. The goal is to use technology to leapfrog lean improvements for more step change improvements by making intelligence decisions quickly.”

The Technology arm works closely with Pollen’s teams specialised in human capital as part of the firm’s mantra to offer an integrated offering to its clients. North: “Fundamentally, we believe that technology is not just the software, we must understand the processes which will change and people who will use it in order to deliver a successful implementation.”

Ultimately, North said the firm aims at helping clients “solve business critical supply chain problems and add value to their bottom-line,” but also to help “bring Australian FMCG to forefront on the world stage.”