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InformationWeek 500: Consumer Goods Companies Make The Best Of Bad Times

Kimberly-Clark uses business intelligence tools to keep costs down in a trying economy.
Consumer goods companies are particularly sensitive to commodities costs. For Kimberly-Clark CIO Ramón Baez, the rising price of commodities translates into an IT challenge. "With inflation, how do you keep your costs down yet still invest in the environment?" he asks.

One approach is investing in better business analytics. Among consumer goods companies surveyed for the InformationWeek 500, 83% reported wide deployment of business intelligence tools; 21% reported limited deployment.

Kimberly-Clark is committed to SAP and SAP's Business Objects, but looking at what SAP has to offer in terms of analytics, Baez wants more quickly. "It's got to be a quick turnaround," he says. "It can't be a two- to three-year thing. This has to be measured in months."

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Many other consumer goods companies see things the same way. Among survey respondents, 52% said that BI tools were among the most effective steps taken in the past 12 months to raise productivity.

The dicey economic environment has everyone looking to run leaner and meaner, and IT leaders aim to be the engines powering that movement. "Every person I talk to in the IT industry is going through the same thing," says Baez. "How do we get our IT staffs and business leaders to think differently? How do we get them focused on value creation?"

Industry Snapshot: Consumer Goods

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