NEW YORK: Procter & Gamble, the FMCG group, is transforming information technology from a "back office capability" into a "competitive advantage", reflecting several new trends at work in the market.

Filippo Passerini, president of the firm's business services group and its chief information officer, suggested that the role of IT was undergoing an equally rapid and radical redefinition.

"We are achieving our vision of transforming IT from a back office commodity to a strategic and competitive advantage. This is something that we continue to focus on and do the best we can every single day," he said.

"I feel that we're at a unique point where the stars and moon are aligned for the CIO to play a dramatically different and much more transformational role in the business."

Gartner, the insights provider, has predicted that chief marketing officers will spend more on IT than chief information officers by 2017, indicating the growing crossover between these departments.

"I believe it's less about technology, and much more about being a businessman with an interest in technology. This is the mindset that has helped ... transform the way business is done at Procter & Gamble," said Passerini.

Procter & Gamble itself has created a global system, now utilised by 60,000 staff around the world, that offers key metrics covering areas like brand equity and category sales, often providing real-time statistics.

Passerini began developing this platform three years ago. "When we started, we had 50% to 60% of the data automated, and for the balance we did a lot of manual work, but that created an incentive for our business leaders to invest because they saw what was possible," he said.

Alongside all the current insights, the firm's "decision cockpit" – as it is known in-house – presents three, six and 12 month projections covering areas like profit margins, market share and the price of products.

Such information can be broken down by country, region, brand and product, providing a granular view to accompany the wider picture. It has also allowed P&G to cut bespoke, standardised reporting by 80%.

"What's different now versus what we did three years ago is that all this data is coming together in the context of the business discussion," Passerini said.

"It's not fragmented by geography or management level and, importantly, it's coming in real time to make better decisions faster in every single business review we do."

Data sourced from Haas School/Information Week; additional content by Warc staff