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For more than 120 years, The Hershey Company has successfully made great-tasting chocolates that you and your family have grown to love. Over the years, the company has added other candies, confectionaries, and snacks to its growing portfolio to meet the changing needs of consumers.

Hershey’s tradition of innovation goes beyond creating new products; it also involves reimagined systems and processes. Hershey understands that it takes innovation and evolution for continued growth in today’s marketplace.

In a recent video, J.P. Bilbrey, Chairman, President, and CEO of The Hershey Company, talks about how the company relies on knowledge and insights to drive business decisions in order to win in the marketplace.

Hershey is on a journey to providing an uninterrupted flow of information to employees across the company. Bilbrey sees this kind of enterprise connectivity as critical to Hershey’s future success.

Exactly how critical? Well, to quote from that same video, Bilbrey says, “Enterprise connectivity is going to be the single most important thing to be able to win in the marketplace. And we want to win.”

That’s a very strong statement, and off-screen, Bilbrey had even more to say about the topic.

Keeping Pace with Change

During his 35+ year career in the industry, Bilbrey has seen tremendous change in the consumer products world – economic globalization, a growing digitalization of daily life, and the consumer’s own changing relationship with food.

“The speed at which these things are happening is more dramatic than ever before,” Bilbrey observes.

He believes businesses like Hershey must keep pace.

“Having access to information in a live business environment lets you act on insight at equally fast speeds,” says Bilbrey.

Bilbrey makes the point that a company’s information and its talent typically span the entire enterprise.

“An organization needs to be well-connected to take advantage of all the data that is available,” he says. “Tear down the silos and get that information to as many people as possible. You’ll discover some great insights from some surprising places.”

Knowledge is the Enabler

Such insights already help Hershey fine-tune its recipe for market success.

“We use SAP S/4HANA in our supply chain where we’ve been able to influence how we think about inventory, how we procure goods, and how they move through our system,” says Bilbrey, citing just one example.

And by “influence,” Bilbrey clearly means “improve.”

He describes a specific instance where deeper analysis and greater insight into the supply chain enabled Hershey to take out more than 20 million corrugated paper cartons from the production and shipping process.

“Twenty million cartons,” Bilbrey repeats for emphasis. “That’s a big number.”

It’s the CEO’s Job

Bilbrey notes that Milton S. Hershey built his business on the concept of “doing well by doing good.”

Hershey himself believed workers should be treated fairly, and he established a model community that included good housing, green space, arts, and entertainment. He was responsible for creating the Milton Hershey School for disadvantaged children, and decades later a US$50 million gift from the Milton Hershey Trust led to the renowned Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, which combines a medical school, teaching hospital, and research center.

This legacy of progressive thinking continues at Hershey.

Today, Hershey uses the knowledge gleaned from its data and analytic capabilities to explore new market opportunities, build value for its investors, and deliver the great tasting snacks loved by generations of loyal customers. In other words, to help the company identify all the right priorities.

“And that’s one of the most important things a CEO does,” says Bilbrey.

You can hear more from J. P. Bilbrey in this SAP video where he describes how The Hershey Company is using SAP to support the business’s goal to Run Live.

And please follow me on Twitter @JohnGWard3.