HUL sets up end-to-end digital transformation plan for next phase of growth

HUL CMD Sanjiv Mehta said over 80 experiments were underway to help in the transformation
The country's largest consumer goods company, Hindustan Unilever (HUL), on Saturday said it had put in place an end-to-end digital transformation plan as it sought to get future-ready.

Addressing shareholders at its 86th Annual General Meeting (AGM), Sanjiv Mehta, chairman and managing director of HUL, said a new digital council had been set up at the company, and over 80 experiments were underway to help in the transformation.

"By 2030, India will have a large cohort of ‘Generation Z’ consumers with ubiquitous internet, smartphones, and digital media. As they start earning, they will actively use technology-enabled consumption models and have a big influence on the consumption behaviour of their households,” said Mehta.

The 58-year-old executive —appointed chairman last year after Harish Manwani retired — said HUL had devised a five-pronged strategy, which includes driving purpose into brands, enhancing societal impact, innovating for the future, nurturing talent, and leveraging data and technology (including artificial intelligence) across the value chain. “Our people data centre picks up real-time consumer signals and identifies business opportunities. We are using shopper data to drive precision marketing, and using machine learning to monitor demand in the real time,” he said, describing the digital transformation process.

The firm is also ramping up technology on the factory floor by reducing service lead time through an integrated sales and operation planning programme, thus creating a customer-focused network as well as a faster logistics and distribution footprint, said Mehta. 

"Our Internet of Things (IoT)-powered digital factories are helping us leverage installed capacities. Automated warehouse robotics and guided vehicles are helping with stock accuracy, reducing truck loading time, and raising the level of customer service,” he said.

Mehta added that HUL was re-skilling its workforce, developing niche digital skills in leaders, and shifting to a culture of “always-on” learning, which focused on mentoring, peer-to-peer learning and e-learning.

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