April 2021

Are You a Chief Data Scientist?

We just published this special report specifically for chief data scientists.  We have noted an increase in the number of folks with this role, and though the role scope differs widely, we thought it might help bring together research and advice for the role.  Here is the special report: The Chief Data Scientist Role Is Key to Evolving Advanced Analytics and AI.

The role of the chief data scientist is increasingly prevalent. Use this research to orient and guide the chief data scientist to strategically support, manage and scale the use and adoption of advanced analytics and AI within the organization.

Please let us know if you find this selectin useful and interesting.


Supply Chain Leaders Champion People and Planet

I recently had the privilege of moderating a virtual Leaders in Action (LIA) event on the theme of running purpose-driven supply chains, co-hosted by Unilever CSCO Marc Engel.

Twenty-five COOs and CSCOs of large global companies joined this interactive event. They shared perspectives and heard from peers on how our supply chains can improve the health of the planet, support people’s health and well-being, and contribute to a fairer, more socially inclusive world.

Held a week before Earth Day, it was followed by a flurry of corporate announcements sharing ambitious goals for resource stewardship, emissions reduction and ethical sourcing. There are too many to list, but one example is from Diageo. Ewan Andrew, president, global supply and procurement and chief sustainability officer, shared Diageo’s progressive 2030 goals for carbon, water, sustainable packaging and DEI in a recent Gartner webinar.
The Race to Zero
Marc opened our Leaders in Action session by describing the purpose-driven journey that Unilever has taken over the last decade. It started with the Sustainable Living Plan, which aimed to halve Unilever’s environmental impact while simultaneously growing its various businesses — “soups and soaps” as Marc describes them. Its current purpose is to make sustainable living commonplace, underpinned by three principles: people with purpose thrive, brands with purpose grow and companies with purpose last.

These aren’t just pretty words on a page. Unilever’s Compass Strategy sets comprehensive goals for progress in all the traditional sustainability categories — a race toward zero impact. Moreover, it is investing in less common areas: 5% of its workforce will be comprised of people with disabilities by 2025 and it is promoting living wages for the millions of agricultural workers supporting its food, beverage and beauty businesses. It also commits to upskill 10 million young people by 2030, independent of employment.

On this last point, Unilever recognizes that our youngest generations are not only growing in numbers, but also in alignment with companies driving positive impacts on the world. As proof, 75% of its recent financial growth has come from brands with a clearly articulated purpose.

It was noted in our group discussion that only a tiny fraction of the global population is willing and able to pay a “green premium” for its products and services. More common is the expectation that companies will be both cost competitive and green/ethical; otherwise, customers will simply take their business elsewhere.
What Did We Learn?
Here are some key takeaways from the group sharing and discussion at this LIA event:

Integrating commercial partners into environmental, social and governance (ESG) funding models is a key success driver (e.g., using marketing budgets to fund this work and integrating it into brand messages, instead of treating it purely as an operational cost).
Longer-term thinking is required when it comes to environmental sustainability efforts. Investments in “green” may be a cost in Year 1 and 2, but generate savings by Year 3 or 4, and ultimately yield a positive ROI for companies.
Driving an ambitious purpose-driven supply chain agenda takes leader commitment. Some of the COOs/CSCOs attending this event spend a quarter to half of their time on ESG-related topics with their teams. Increasingly, global CSCOs are adding sustainability to their corporate titles and organizational remits.
Scope 3, or the up- and downstream environmental impacts of product creation and use are typically the largest, by orders of magnitude, and hardest for companies to influence. Some companies use incentives, coaching and digital technologies to cascade their vision and objectives upstream into the tiers of their supply bases. When it comes to customer product use, progress is often best achieved through complementary objectives (e.g., customer convenience and a lighter environmental footprint).
Standards are still needed to measure and communicate product carbon footprints. The community is also interested in harmonizing emissions standards reporting and reduction performance management.
Some companies are advocating a price for “externalities,” such as carbon emissions and virgin plastic usage, to make greener alternatives more economically viable.

It was inspiring to hear the level of conversation and passion for these topics across the supply chain community. We’re very much looking forward to the next gathering of this esteemed group, in May, to explore the opportunistic intersection between product lifecycle management and supply chain.

Stan Aronow
VP Distinguished Advisor
Gartner Supply Chain
[email protected]

Lessons in simplicity strategy

To help leaders boost performance, Julia Hobsbawm describes six principles for cutting through complexity, which she calls “hexagon action.” It’s based on ACCEPT, an acronym for alignment, clarity, collaboration, ease, productivity, and time. We need to accept complexity, but strive for simplicity.

Dale Vince has a winning strategy for sustainability

In this Inside the Mind of the CEO interview, Dale Vince, chief executive of Ecotricity, discusses how he is promoting sustainability through his green initiatives — which include, for example, new forms of renewable energy and a vegan soccer club.

Why Regulation Won’t Harm Cryptocurrencies

Measures that protect investors and weed out bad actors will boost confidence in cryptocurrencies and help the industry to grow, according to Wharton’s Brian Feinstein and Kevin Werbach.

Asia-Pacific's rebalancing act

In recent decades, the Asia-Pacific region has provided one of the great growth stories in human history. Its share of world GDP now stands at nearly 40 percent. But given the vast changes and structural shifts afoot, the region, home to 60 percent of the world’s population, urgently needs a new growth narrative. Raymund Chao, Christopher Kelkar, and David Wijeratne of PwC argue that the key to the region’s future lies in building rebalanced and more resilient global supply chains and further enabling the success of homegrown Asia-Pacific businesses.

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