WHAT’S BUZZING

P&G takes a holistic approach to innovation
With consumer expectations changing frequently and rapidly, how can organisations ensure continuous innovation to keep on delivering enhanced products and services?

For consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble (P&G), the answer lies in partnering with start-ups and entrepreneurs.

One such effort is iLab 2021, a three-day virtual innovation festival held on May 4. During the event, 27 start-ups across the region worked with P&G teams to develop solutions in domains such as artificial intelligence (AI) personalisation, gaming, social commerce and supply chain resiliency. P&G then mentored and helped those with promising approaches to roll out pilots across its markets in Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.

“We believe partnering with startups offers a win-win situation. [Initiatives such as iLab 2021] allow us to learn and grow with start-ups as we test their innovations that can constructively disrupt the consumer journey,” Karthik Natarajan, P&G’s senior vice president, CFO, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa tells The Edge Singapore.

He adds that such collaborations create “a dynamic, sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem that will help businesses meet customers’ ever-changing needs.”

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P&G is also building its internal capability to ensure that “innovation is embedded in all its processes instead of existing as a separate stream,” says Natarajan.

In 2017, P&G launched the E-Center, a digital innovation facility focused on transforming its processes and upskilling its employees to enhance end-to-end supply chain, optimise product distribution and marketing strategy using predictive analytics, and scale digital strategies for the region.

P&G also launched its iFuture digital capability programme last year. The company will invest up to $50 million in total business expenditure linked to new digital capabilities from 2020 to 2023. This includes training over 50 employees to take on new digital roles.

Additionally, P&G has invested more than $400 million in its Singapore Innovation Center, its largest private research and development facility here.

Digital transformation still not a boardroom agenda for many Singapore businesses
Although technology is widely acknowledged as key for competitive advantage, only 34% of companies in Singapore discuss digital transformation at the board level. This is one of the findings from a tech proficiency survey by software consultancy firm ThoughtWorks.

“It is estimated that in most typical organisations, about 80% of the allocated technology spending goes to business-as-usual processes, leaving only 20% to fund transformation initiatives. They need to realise that successful transformation [requires] a fine balancing act between facilitating change and ensuring usual operations go on as planned,” says Hormese Tharakan, commercial director at ThoughtWorks.

The survey also reveals that 51% of companies in Singapore are leveraging new technology to win businesses, run efficient systems and attract talent. They are most likely to deploy tools that can help with data strategies, product development, financial inclusion and contactless payments.

Despite their enthusiasm at deploying new technologies, 45% admit their utilisation of technology is falling behind


SEE: Empower the workforce to drive innovation


competitors. One possible reason is that those companies use technology reactively instead of putting it at the core of their business strategy, Tharakan tells The Edge Singapore.

He adds: “We’ve seen examples in organisations receiving vast amounts of customer insights, where they are eager to analyse and utilise this data to address customer trends and demands. However, they run the risk of spreading their resources thin and achieving only superficial, front-end digital change if they are not properly backed by sufficient resources and changes to the system to boost development capabilities.”

To fully benefit from technology investments, Tharakan advises companies here to first identify and zero in on their unique business objectives and priorities. Thereafter, they should learn the crucial roles each aspect of technology can play and how they interconnect with one another, before scaling up their modernisation or transformation efforts.

He adds that digital transformation should also be “embraced by management teams as the ‘oxygen’ modern businesses need to live, flourish and prosper”, instead of being the sole responsibility of the chief information or technology officer.


IN PICTURE

Grab robotGrab Singapore will be piloting a robot runner service at Paya Lebar Quarter Mall this month. The robot runner will consolidate more than 250 orders daily for up to 35 GrabFood and GrabMart merchants within the mall, before handing them off to delivery partners at a central collection point for last-mile delivery. This is expected to shave off up to 15 minutes the time delivery partners usually take to navigate shopping malls and collect orders.

Designed in partnership with Techmetics Robotics, the Grab robot runner comes fitted with safety features. It uses Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) sensors to detect incoming obstacles, features an automated voice message that alerts shoppers of its presence, and can scan and monitor its immediate proximity in real time to avoid sudden obstacles and prevent collisions.


DIGITAL LIFE

If you are struggling to stay focused as you work from home, try these apps to help you be more productive:

Freedom

Freedom app that blocks distracting websites and apps on all your devices simultaneously

Block distracting websites and apps on all of your devices simultaneously with Freedom. This prevents you from reaching out to your phone to check Facebook when you have blocked it on your computer during a session.

If you are prone to working around your good intentions, you can activate the lockdown mode, which makes it impossible to edit your blocklists while a session is active.

Forest

Be rewarded with a tree for every time you focus
Forest uses gamification to help increase your focus time. All you have to do is plant a seed and watch it grow into a beautiful tree over a set period. The catch? The tree will wither away if you switch to another app.

You can grow different species of trees and set focus time ranging from 10 to 120 minutes. Over time, you will gain an entire forest of trees, reminding you of all the time that was intentionally spent getting things done instead of scrolling through Instagram.