Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), a pioneer in market research and decision support software for the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, recently held its annual Reinventing CPG Summit in San Francisco. IRI executives asserted that CPG manufacturers and retailers need to collaborate and adapt to the new demands of consumers who will determine where and when they will be influenced and purchase products. The CPG industry has been reluctant to adopt technology for applying analytics and to collaborate interactively with retailers, and it has been reluctant to utilize IRI's new software. IRI's products have evolved significantly in the last two years, building on a robust analytics platform from one of its software partners, SymphonyRPM. Ventana Research advises CPG companies that want to better manage their business and performance in brands, products and relationships with retailers to re-examine software like that from IRI.
Since the heated battle of the 1990s between IRI and AC Nielsen, the market research business for the CPG industry has settled into commoditized data from retailers and minor advances in analytics and software solutions. Now IRI offers a new generation of products that help manage specific business activities in brand, category, product and store management to meet the changes in consumer behavior and retailer performance. In 1995, IRI disillusioned CPG manufacturers by selling its software assets to Oracle. But now the new software and proof-of-concept demonstrations have convinced some CPG companies that IRI is in fact committed to their industry. Applications that include analytics, data and software are not new to the CPG industry, but the new family of products serves niches such as store execution, shopper execution, buyer behavior and competitive impact, all of which are desperately needed by CPG organizations that operate using latent and static data in outdated information systems.
IRI has more to do to develop these applications beyond similar capabilities found in enterprise applications and business intelligence (BI) technology providers and into the more intuitive, knowledge-based applications it once produced. Ventana Research believes these applications are moving in the right direction for supporting performance management within specific business activities of CPG companies and retailers.
Ventana Research believes that by reintroducing sophisticated software into its business offerings, IRI can persuade CPG manufacturers and retailers to consider it again as a software provider. But IRI must distinguish itself from existing BI suppliers like Business Objects, MicroStrategy and others that have gained broad adoption of their reporting and analytics technologies and from the large enterprise application providers such as Oracle (which recently acquired Siebel) and SAP (which has verticalized marketing, sales and productization of its applications). IRI has much deeper domain knowledge and understanding of the analytics and data than these other providers, but it must show customers how its products complement the existing systems in which they have lasting investments.
CPG manufacturers and retailers have begun to realize that the pendulum of power has swung toward the consumer, who is more savvy and demanding than in decades past. To adapt to the maturity of the consumer, they will have to utilize analytics and information to improve performance. IRI addresses these challenges with analytic solutions that move toward the requirements of having information in real time and adapting to shorter time cycles. IRI will have to prove that it can bring these analytics and intelligence into their organizations. Ventana Research believes that IRI's analytic solutions can help CPG manufacturers and retailers to mature, but IRI will have to convince the industry and executives to embrace its new portfolio.
Related Research Notes:
Performance Management: A Grand Opportunity to Improve
Managing performance is at the core of every organization's mission.
"Reinventing CPG Summit" Looks To The Future
Marketers, retailers, vendors join in chorus for change.
A New Symphony for Performance Management
SymphonyRPM brings platform and solutions for operational performance management.
Symphony & Tennenbaum Make Tender Offer for IRI
Bringing BI to market could signal a change in CPG/retail data analysis landscape.
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2006 Ventana Research