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Industry Execs Discuss Optimizing Infrastructures for Analytics

At CGT's Analytics Unite event, Target, Dollar General, Haleon and Victoria’s Secret shared advice on how to grow and embrace new technology as well as lessons learned from executives' careers in data, analytics and marketing.
Analytics Unite 2024 panel

Andy Walter, previously of Procter & Gamble, moderated a panel of retail and CPG executives at Path to Purchase Institute sibling brand CGT’s Analytics Unite event in May. Paul Bucalo, senior director of marketing engineering at Dollar General; Greg Pederson, director of data and analytics, food and beverage at Target; Bhaumik Sharma, chief digital transformation officer, North America, Haleon; and Murali Sundararajan, CIO of Victoria’s Secret & Co. took the stage to discuss optimizing infrastructures for analytics.

The panel shared thoughts and advice on how to grow and embrace new technology as well as lessons learned from their careers in data, analytics and marketing.

In terms of how to deal with legacy infrastructures while also keeping a strong foundation in place, Pederson said to approach it with humility because tradeoffs must be considered (e.g., risks and opportunities, over-investment versus underinvestment, and the promise of AI and other tech aspirations).

“How crucial is it to have a data and analytics environment that will help you get to conversions and a shared understanding of the truth,” Pederson said. It’s important to focus on improving the speed, velocity and quality of analytics. “Make better bets and reduce the probability of bad bets.”

Sharma said data quality is foundational. His philosophy: Look for domains that grow the top and bottom line and remove redundancies.

Other advice:

  • To balance investments, Bucalo said “leaders are focused on automating absolutely everything people don’t want to do, but the reality is always some sort of gradation.”
  • In terms of how to talk with CEOs/leadership about the nitty gritty, everyone agreed education and demonstration is crucial.
  • AI is costly, and leadership’s excitement for it often overlooks infrastructure. Sharma said leaders must understand AI beyond news headlines. They must understand use cases as well as the eventual benefits and scalability of gen AI.
  • Don’t be overly technical and analytical, simplify things, and be transparent about tradeoffs and risks to leaders, Pederson advised.
  • Sharma’s advice: Be “bilingual.” Be the liaison who can translate the super technical stuff in a simplified, understandable way to leadership. “You need that ability to translate tech to business and business to tech.”

 Trust your team and vendor partners, Bucalo said. “Like POS, it’s a lot of testing and learning.”

Read a full recap of key takeaways from the event here.

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