Solution Provider Spotlight: Microsoft

April 17, 2023
by David Leibowitz, General Manager, Retail & Consumer Goods Industry at Microsoft

Give us a brief history of your company, when and how did you get started and what is your high-level mission statement?

Microsoft’s mission statement is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. We believe technology can and should be a force for good and that meaningful innovation can and will contribute to a brighter world in big and small ways. We believe technology is a powerful force for good and are working to foster a sustainable future where everyone has access to the benefits and opportunities created by technology and target being carbon negative by 2030.

We deliver secure, private, and reliable computing experiences based on sound business practices and, when designed with people at the center, AI can extend your capabilities to achieve more.

What would you like CMA and SIMA members to know about your brand/company?

Microsoft is a technology company that has evolved to deliver intelligent solutions that deliver real industry business value. Microsoft is also a world class manufacturer and omnichannel retailer to consumers and enterprise organizations. Through this experience, we have learned a great deal and that has been infused in our solutions offered to retailers and brands around the globe.

What is the most common question you hear from current and potential customers, and how do you answer it?

The common questions we hear from consumer brands and manufacturers are common: 1) how can we leverage data to engage, serve and develop loyal consumers? 2) How can we connect our enterprise to optimize manufacturing operations and 3) how can we accelerate our innovation journey?

We answer this with a broad stack of solution capabilities that build upon a trusted data estate and stress the importance of ‘your customers, your data.’ We build upon that with a rich ecosystem of solutions for the intelligent supply chain. This helps drive operational excellence with automation, quality improvements with digital twins, improve metrics like OEEE on the plant floor with AI/ML, and deliver optimized sales velocity to retail partners and consumers direct with robust data estate.

Accelerating the innovation is answered with the comprehensive stack of solutions needed for success across security, governance, data, supply chain, analytics and visualization along with the expansive ecosystem of Microsoft partners that enrich our offers.

Any white space in the industry or areas you are looking to expand into?

Generative AI is a expansion area for our direct and partner offers. The opportunity to automate and accelerate solutions is exponential. You can already experiment with the value for developers and knowledge workers with our Copilot capabilities, which include components to accelerate business operations with Azure Open AI.

Beyond that, these capabilities are manifest is our industry solutions like Microsoft Dynamics Supply Chain Center. Consumer goods brands can have supply chain disruptions from weather, finance, geopolitical events, and a whole host of external factors. This can mean challenges in delivery ETA’s, costly order rerouting, and missed SLA’s with partners (distributors, freight forwarders, and retailers). Ultimately, customer satisfaction and the P&L can take a hit.

Now, with Supply Chain Center Supplier News Communication, consumer goods brands and manufacturers can receive real time alerts that leverage generative AI to proactively address these issues to assist Supply Chain managers in real-time communications with suppliers.

What is the most important thing that needs to be addressed in the category management and shopper insights disciplines going forward?

The value of a rich data-ecosystem that is grounded in consumer consent and trust helps brands and retailers work together to deliver the products and services that buyers demand at the time they want is paramount for supply chain efficiency.

Including a variety of inputs from consumer demand signal, to supply chain, to marketing campaigns, local events, and consumer preference will help brands deliver products with efficiency.

How are you thinking about the next 3-5 years in retail?

This is truly an exciting time for retail and consumer goods. As we capitalize on the promise of generative AI, we can deliver compelling personalized experiences customers in a fraction of the time. Brands will be able to connect seamlessly to consumers in meaningful ways across mobile, social, via digital media in store and at home. By leveraging generative AI, conversational intelligence and consumer preferences, brands will be able to deliver mass personalization at scale to meet customers where they are.