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SAP recently sponsored a custom research project with Consumer Goods Technology magazine (CGT).  CGT surveyed CP executives across business functions to assess the availability, use and maturity of various types of downstream data within the consumer products enterprise.  The complete research results are available online via the CGT website.  Here are some of the key findings:

80%+ of all CP companies surveyed consider downstream data to be a critical component of their overall enterprise data strategy, effective use of that data to be essential for competitive advantage and timely access to accurate data to be crucial for confident decision-making and business process improvement.

At the same time, however, 60% of all respondents indicated that integrating demand signals from various sources remains a significant challenge, which could be due at least in part to data ownership - 56% of respondents report that data ownership is dispersed throughout the organization.

To address these issues, CP companies are increasingly taking a broader view of demand signal management as part of a larger enterprise information management strategy.  Respondents indicated that data integration (75%), business intelligence (66%), data harmonization (55%) and data quality management (52%) are all processes which are all included in their companies' downstream data management strategies.

The current focus for these processes remains on quantitative, structured 3rd party data including point-of-sale (POS) and syndicated retail measurement data but the companies surveyed also indicated emerging and increasing investments in integrating qualitative, unstructured data such as consumer research and social media analysis.

However, currently only 19% of CP companies surveyed reported that the ability to integrate and leverage downstream data was centrally managed and delivered across business functions with consistency and quality while, 65% reported that downstream data analysis was available either on an ad hoc basis (36%) or managed by an individual team but integrated with other, corresponding business processes (29%).

Respondents clearly indicated plans for a greater future emphasis on "enterprising" downstream data - or incorporating demand signal management into a larger enterprise information management strategy.  47% of all respondents reported plans to increase spending on acquiring 3rd party demand data in the coming year and, at the same time, respondents reported that they plan to increase spending on ALL types of demand data categories included in the survey.

Clearly, the application and use of downstream data, demand signal management and initiatives to enterprise that data are top of mind for CP executives and, while companies are still working through challenges associated with leveraging that data, the opportunities for future benefit are clearly driving greater investments in data and data management across the board.