For years, CPG analysts predicted new technology solutions would replace Excel spreadsheets as the tool of choice for managing trade promotions. As predicted, cloud-based business solutions appeared on the scene offering a new, better, smarter way to manage trade spending within the supply chain. After the cloud found its foothold in the CPG space, analysts then reported there was a definite momentum among CPG manufacturers for cloud-based trade promotion management solutions over on premise solutions.
All signs showed significant value of moving TPM processes to the cloud in terms of affordability, security, usability, and business intelligence. The added agility and anytime access to business data from a web enabled device made clipboards, paper and hundreds of Excel spreadsheets seem archaic.
Despite all the benefits and predictions, industry analysts are stunned by how slow the market has been to adopt cloud-based TPM solutions. This begs the questions: Why are CPG companies still clinging to Excel?
Is it due to budgetary constraints? Excel may seem free on the surface, but its limitations inadvertently create ineffective promotions, double-dipping, surprise costs associated with out of stocks, etc. Cloud-based TPM solutions have a more affordable price tag then on premise solutions and many CPG companies see a ROI in the first year.
Maybe buy-in from senior management is the issue? Changing company culture and behaviors are difficult. The truth is, CEOs who commit to 6 months of learning and implementing new processes will be rewarded with higher profits and better positioning in the marketplace.
There’s definitely a need, right? CPG manufacturers continue to voice ongoing pain points associated with speed of information, real-time data and big picture visibility. The cloud accelerates work pace, productivity, and output because chasing key people in different time zones to confirm promotions, clarify terms or approve deductions is eliminated. Yes, the need is definitely there.
So, is now not a good time to move to the cloud? If not now, when? All signs indicate cloud computing will become the de facto standard, especially for CPG manufacturers operating and serving customers globally.
Excel is a great business application, but it was never intended (nor will it ever be) an intuitive, real-time business intelligence tool. Managing trade spend in Excel is like walking uphill with a leaky bucket. There’s still some water in the bucket when you get to the top, but look how much you lost along the way.