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Line of Business and Information Technology: Different Perspectives in the Food and Beverage Industry

Line of Business and Information Technology: Different Perspectives in the Food and Beverage Industry

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Line of Business and Information Technology: Different Perspectives in the Food and Beverage Industry

Dec 15, 2021

John McCurdy
Food and beverage business professionals discuss data.

The food and beverage industry is comprised of many different business types serving the various sectors within the larger marketplace. As each company is unique, with its own critical processes and key considerations, priorities and perceptions differ based on circumstances—and that’s also true for the individuals within the organizations.

To investigate that particular phenomenon, we broke down the results of the survey conducted for IDC’s Global Food and Beverage Industry Trends and Strategic Insights whitepaper based on the roles that the respondents play at their place of employment. Specifically, we noted some marked deviations between the answers given by those in line-of-business (LOB) positions and those of information technology (IT) professionals.

In this post, we’ll examine where LOB and IT food and beverage business respondents agreed and disagreed on top threats, trends and digital transformations. Then, we’ll conclude with some brief general guidance to help your organization navigate the future of the industry.

Perceived Threats and Focuses for Risk Mitigation

When asked to identify the top threat to the food and beverage industry over the next five years, LOB and IT respondents alike selected future global disruptions like pandemics, geo-political shifts and climate change as their main concern.

However, there were some differences further down the list. IT respondents chose significant shifts to sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) priorities as the second- and third-ranked threats, while LOB participants selected shrinking profit margins and cost increases as their second-largest concern.

As for areas for risk mitigation, there was a definite contrast, as LOB respondents named sustainability as their main focus, while IT participants indicated they’ll be placing more emphasis on food safety and traceability measures. IT respondents also showed more interest in preparing for changes in global trade and regulatory compliance.

Finally, both LOB and IT picked lack of supply chain visibility as the top gap to be addressed. IT participants had slightly more interest in overcoming deficiencies in digital competencies and collaboration with supply chain partners, perhaps illustrating these professionals’ greater focus on the digital platforms used to conduct operations and communications.

Predicting the Impacts of Trends and Technologies

There was a marked difference between LOB and IT respondents in their predictions of trends to have the greatest impact over the next 5 years, with LOB participants choosing sustainability and environmental stewardship while IT professionals selected changes in consumer demands and preferences. Those on the LOB side also have their eye on labor shortages and their potential impact, while IT professionals are more focused on increased traceability demands and requirements.

On the topic of technologies to have the greatest impact over the next 5 years, there was greater consensus, with LOB and IT participants making big data and analytics the clear frontrunner. Cloud-based networks were a close second for those in IT, while the LOB respondents chose the Internet of Things (IoT) as their next-most impactful technology.

With regards to more immediate priorities over the next year, sustainability took the top spot for IT participants, whereas food regulation and legislation was chosen by LOB respondents. Both will no doubt be critical areas of emphasis for most food and beverage businesses, so this difference may reflect a greater focus on delivering products to market for LOB professionals, while IT workers are concerned with making the equipment and systems that power their operations leaner and greener.

Attitudes Toward Digital Transformation

Interestingly, IT survey participants would seem to perceive their businesses’ digital transformations to be in later stages of maturity as compared to their LOB counterparts. Across the areas of food safety and traceability, supply chain management and Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing, IT respondents rated their organizations’ maturity at 4 out of 5 or greater, while those in LOB rated all categories slightly—but noticeably—lower, between 3.75 and 3.91 out of 5.

The fact that IT professionals are more likely to have in-depth knowledge and understanding of how far along they are in their modernization efforts is the likely explanation for this difference. They work with their company’s digital systems and solutions as their primary responsibility, and this constant exposure allows them to learn the tools and features at their disposal more thoroughly and completely.

This disparity was further illustrated in the responses on the topic of the top challenges to digital transformation. IT participants chose limited visibility over operations as their primary concern, with their businesses’ resistance to change coming in second, while LOB participants selected lack of awareness of solutions as their top challenge. This suggests that more in-depth training may be needed to ensure the LOB professionals are up-to-speed on the features and capabilities available to them.

Positioning Your Business for Success

Many of these differences in opinion can likely be chalked up to personal experiences and circumstances, but LOB and IT professionals’ shared focus on leveraging big data and analytics is telling of the ways in which the industry is changing. Down to even the most granular of details, information is powerful, and diving deep on metrics, past results and forecasts for the future can yield actionable insights that lead to real results.

The collective desire for greater traceability and visibility along supply chains is also notable, as food and beverage businesses recognize that today’s consumers demand more transparency from the brands they buy from. All of this demonstrate the importance of having a solid digital foundation that can act as a “single source of truth” for your organization, and there’s no better solution for this purpose than a food enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

At Aptean, we’ve put decades of industry experience into making our platforms as powerful and flexible as possible, starting with a Microsoft Dynamics 365 framework and fleshing out features and modules based on best practices and top concerns in each sector. We also know the value of reliability and mobile access for enterprise systems, so we offer and encourage cloud deployments for organizations that want additional resiliency and agility.

On that subject, one more key finding from the survey makes the advantages of cloud implementations clear. Consider that respondents whose businesses have cloud solutions reported 3.3% annual growth in revenue and 3.9% annual growth in profits, compared to 1.7% annual revenue growth and 2.7% annual profit growth for businesses with traditional on-premise setups, and the impact is obvious.

If you’re ready to learn more about our solutions and explore the potential of putting Aptean Food & Beverage ERP in place at your company, contact us today. You can also schedule a personalized demo to see our best-in-class systems in action.

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