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Using digital technology to create new value

Lisa Mitnick
12 Sep 2022

Companies are starting to recognize the important role digital plays in designing consumer-focused products

Why would a company that sells soap, skincare, ice cream, and laundry soap be thinking about digital? According to Darren Adams, the head of digital products at Unilever, a global consumer product goods company, there is tremendous opportunity to use digital and data to help provide new consumer experiences and services. In turn, these innovations will drive new business and growth.

He shares his thoughts with Eric Cohen, VP, Capgemini Invent, in the second episode of our six-part Leaders in Innovation podcast series, a partnership we have with Products That Count.

As consumer expectations change and new technologies emerge, Adams believes companies are starting to recognize the important role digital plays in designing consumer-focused products, a journey Unilever began years ago. Leveraging and understanding data to inform new valuefor the consumer, whether in product selection or service, are integral to product success and creating customers for life.

As global head of digital innovation, Adams focuses on the consumer and the ways the consumer experience can be enhanced using digital technologies and methodologies. Data analytics is an integral component.

A CPG company, traditionally making chemistry in a bottle, exploring the world of digital and data requires an entirely new playbook, where roles and KPIs must adapt to a longer-term consumer engagement. In product-based companies, the first steps in product development center on identification of a consumer need and searching for the right solution and purchase; this is typically the role of the marketing team. But Adams’ next steps are a bit less traditional. He thinks about usage, two or three steps further down the development road map – tracking results and analyzing data over time to drive a more targeted and closer consumer engagement and cycle of products.

Usage and analysis are a big part of Unilever’s focus today, he says, and digital is starting to provide perspective on consumer buying and usage patterns. Understanding what the data shows is the foundation for a lot of decisions about product selection and services.

That data and information flow also creates an ecosystem for the consumer, extending beyond delivering new engagements to connect the digital marketing with the science and technology parts of the organization, those functions charged with developing new formulations, new product ingredients, and ways of delivering products.

Digital innovations are also playing a role in marrying short-term sales objectives with long-term development and innovation, a tension Adams says is not unique to any one company or organization. Unilever is experimenting with accelerator programs, putting a focus on specific areas that have been identified as business challenges. Accelerators also raise a critical question beyond focus: Are CPG organizations ready for digital? Do they have the infrastructure and mindset to produce, manage, and scale an entirely new class of digitally native products and services, even if they want to?

These considerations are what make the integration of new solutions and technologies into a stronger company. Innovation products and market share must surely follow.

Listen to the full podcast here.

Learn more about Capgemini Intelligent Products & Services.

Meet the author

Lisa Mitnick

Executive Vice President, Capgemini Invent
A hands-on digital leader and entrepreneur, Lisa Mitnick has more than 20 years’ experience delivering business success with deep knowledge in strategy, product management, cutting-edge technology services and business development. With industry expertise in communications, media, technology, health and government/public sector, she has harnessed the power of technology to transform services and improve client and customer experiences.