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FMCGs are produced and distributed by Unilever Plc which sells a wide range of consumables, including food, beverages, household goods, personal care products, and vitamins, minerals, and supplements. The success of Unilever is greatly attributed to its development into more than 190 countries with products they dominate and specialise in. Additionally, it gives regional managers a significant amount of decision-making ability, which raises their status in numerous markets. Here is An overview of Unilever Plc's technological environment Future IS strategies for Unilever Plc will be put forth. Along with details on how they will be implemented from beginning to end, how they will strategically affect an organisation's operational culture and more.
Unilever Plc works in a wide range of industries, including those related to food, spices, water in bottles, baby food, beverages, frozen treats, instant caffeine, cleaning products, energy drinks, toothbrushes, pet food, pharmaceuticals and consumer medical goods, tea, breakfast cereal, cosmetics, and personal care. Unilever Plc is the largest manufacturer of soap in the world, with distribution in almost 190 nations. Lever Brothers and Margarine Unie merged to form Unilever on September 2, 1929. In the 1930s, United Africa Company was bought by Unilever Plc. The company expanded beyond its initial emphasis on oils and fats to become a global powerhouse in the latter half of the 20th century (unilever.com, 2023). Unilever Plc wants to improve a billion people's health, reduce its impact on the environment, and ethically source all of its farming raw materials by the year 2030.
Figure 1: Financial Performance of Unilever plc
(Source: statista, 2023)
A brief account of the technological system background of Unilever Plc
Organisational R&D and Innovation: The innovation of this Unilever Plc improves the plc's various activities in a very good way. Along with this, the innovation of this plc is specially developed to create a fast track of various types of work. As a result of this, this Unilever Plc is very good at inventing a variety of serious antiques for the dads they need. According to Mees-Buss et al. (2019), not only that, this process of this plc is very good the plc's variety is very important, strong knowledge, efficient process, increasing efficiency and reducing cost Costs can be reduced.
Figure 2: Advantages Of Technology In Business
(Source: slidegeeks, 2023)
Digital Transformation: This Unilever Plc's business processes have improved significantly due to this digital transformation. Not only that, the business activity of the plc has seen tremendous improvement and the business efficiency of the plc has increased tremendously. For this reason, the plc can provide the required products to the customers through various types of digital transformation in a very good way and very cooperatively. As per Jevtić and Milovanović, (2023), as a result of this, there are additionally reduced mistakes made by employees, as well as lesser mistakes automatically translating towards decreased costs for operations on Unilever Plc.
Automation and Robotics: This Unilever Plc has benefited from this automation and robotics process very well to make their products very well and very seriously. Both automotive and manufacturing segments have implemented numerous superior robotic arms and automated solutions on this plc. Along with this, big complicated robots have been put assembled employing specific AI-enabled solutions compared to employees (Mees-Buss et al. 2019). As a result of this, this Unilever Plc is very good at making their products almost flawlessly and within a very short period.
Customer engagement: Guerrero and Carroll, (2022), said that Unilever Plc's customer engagement, the plc can very well sell their business in a very high volume. Along with this, customers can buy all the products required by this plc in large quantities. Unilever Plc is very good at running their business till the end of the day and helps the business to acquire them for a long period.
Innovative inventory management: This innovative inventory management method is helping Unilever Plc to understand the stock and stock situation of all their products very well. Along with this, this method helps the plc to understand the order of the product they need and the knowledge to make the product accordingly. Paulino, (2022), stated that as a result of this, overall these factors lower the expenditures that Unilever plc inventories as well as the total number of merchandise which continues to be unwanted beforehand the item.
The implementation process, from initiation to termination of the technology system
As per Mariani and Wamba, (2020), the implementation process of the technology system starting from initiation to termination helps to enhance the organisational stability and improve the strategic vision. The implementation process of essential technology has affected the organisational effectiveness and strategic flexibility of Unilever Plc. From initiation to termination of the technology system, the process has a key role in establishing the organisational objectives by enhancing the technological skill of employees in Unilever Plc (Tien 2019). Implementing cutting-edge technologies effectively creates an efficient supply chain network as automation is the key factor in implementing technology in this organisation.
According to Madakam et al. (2019), the implementation of robotic process automation (RPA) is important for inventory management broadly speaking for effective logistics and supply chain. Inventory management refers to the process of procurement, storage, and utilisation of the inventory of an organisation which are the raw materials, items, and end products. The application of robotic process automation for inventory management in Unilever Plc has helped the company in simplifying and automating inventory spreadsheets and also in enhancing decisions with the assistance of real-time data and immediate warnings (Nielsen et al. 2023). This technology has helped Unilever Plc to reduce the engagement of much time and labour in the manual inventories and most importantly, RPA implementation has helped to enhance the spending of time in establishing greater organisational values.
Figure 3: Inventory management automation by RPA implementation.
(Source: aspiresys, 2023)
The implementation of RPA in inventory management in Unilever Plc has helped to improve visibility and productivity in the entire supply chain management. Nozari et al. (2021), stated that the RPA has helped in carefully monitoring the inventory levels to assure that sufficient products are present for meeting the demand. This system generates a notification immediately by detecting the low levels of supply below the threshold value. Thus, this system has helped Unilever Plc to instantly monitor the inventory levels for managing the needs in supply chain management much more effectively (Paulino, 2022). The effective automation by RPA has helped Unilever Plc to evaluate the current needs in the supply chain and has minimised the inventory processing time by nearly 70%.
As per Günesen et al. (2021), the implementation of artificial intelligence and machine learning has helped Unilever Plc to minimise production costs by optimising the processes and finding out the areas for enhancing production efficiency. Implementation of artificial intelligence and machine learning has become helpful in assisting in the detection of defects and anomalies in the data generated in the process of Unilever Plc. The implementation of artificial intelligence has enhanced the accuracy and most significantly the pace of predictive maintenance in the manufacturing process of the company (Najafi et al. 2022). The application of AI has caused the automation of routine monitoring and has provided Unilever to engage more time in creating innovative and strategic solutions. Another significant impact is that AI has helped enhance the consumer experience by customising the interactions and has provided more personalised suggestions and support.
Figure 4: The positive impacts of AI and machine learning on business.
(Source: adnovum, 2023)
Nirmal et al. (2022), suggested that the application of machine learning has helped Unilever obtain a competitive edge by detecting consumer trends and thus, provided the scope to enhance profitability by meeting customer needs. The implementation of AI is also particularly useful in the detection of fraud and circumventing those by finding out the patterns and oddities in data (Dogru and Keskin, 2020). The implementation of AI and machine learning has enabled Unilever to design and innovate new products and customer services rapidly that have accelerated their business growth and innovation.
According to Alawi et al. (2022), the implementation of blockchain technology can help Unilever Plc to improve the efficiency of the entire supply chain more accurately. Blockchain technology will help Unilever Plc to give real-time visibility in the supply chain network and in the tracking of raw materials, items, and finished products along the whole supply chain. This technology will help to enhance the efficiency from the process of production to distribution services to the last step which is reaching the customers (Peres et al. 2022). Unilever Plc can implement blockchain technology in supply chain management as it will aid in improving transparency and create trustable relationships among various stakeholders involved in the entire supply chain network.
Figure 5: The impact of blockchain technology on supply chain management.
(Source: linkedin, 2023)
The implementation of blockchain technology will help Unilever to gain insights regarding their supply chain modifications and involve customers with real and verifiable data that cannot be immutable. Iqbal et al. (2020), referred that this technology will become helpful in enhancing the credibility of the company in acquiring the trust of consumers through the easy accessibility to the supply chain yet will help in minimising cyber-security threats. The application of blockchain technology will provide many secondary benefits to Unilever Plc in enriching the corporate reputation in the FMCG sector by enhancing transparency in the manufacturing process of consumer goods.
The strategic impact of a new technology system on the operational culture of Unilever plc
Supply chain enhancement: The development, deployment, and management of software robots that imitate human motions while interacting with digital systems and programs are made simpler by robotic process automation (RPA) software technology. As per Khan et al. (2022), stock management requires numerous moving parts and time-consuming operations. The amount of productivity that can be increased by utilising typical inventory management software has a limit. When the company automates interactions in its legacy systems, it can save time and money with automated inventory management and cloud-based automation solutions.
Figure 6: RPA in Supply chain and organisational operations
(Source: Xenonstack, 2023)
Inventory spreadsheets can be streamlined and automated using robotic process automation (RPA), which also improves decision-making by providing real-time data and prompt notifications. As a result, employees may spend more time coming up with innovative ways to grow the company and less time on menial activities like taking physical stock. As per Radke et al. (2020), optimising warehouse management is made possible with a prebuilt bot called From Demand and Inventory, which is available in the Bot Store. Unilever Plc can predict and automate reorders with it, keeping overstocks and stockouts at bay. Automatically adjust for seasonal or variable data and determine stock needs to boost profitability. Supply chain issues may be tracked in real time via robotic process automation, and data can be instantly synced between systems. One area that potential gains from robotic process automation (RPA), which uses software robots to automate tedious, repetitive tasks, is supply chain management.
Shipping and logistics: Businesses have been compelled to internalise this process because there aren't enough external logistics providers. As per Perestoronina, (2020), one of the biggest challenges in the field of shipping and logistics management is determining the most effective and efficient delivery routes. This method greatly lowers labour and shipping-related costs by automating the manual tasks related to confirming and sending orders in a fulfilment operation. A single automated shipping program can take the role of 15-20 human parcel manifestation and checking stations. According to Zhang and Huang, (2022), the logistics of making deliveries are substantially simplified by the use of RPA to determine the optimal routes and the most suitable quantity of orders for each courier. By ensuring that customers receive their purchases within the allotted time frames, businesses may maximise earnings while minimising costs. Unilever Plc will be able to automate inventory counts and better track goods from manufacture to delivery by using RFID inventory counts rather than barcodes and barcode scanning.
Figure 7: The impact of RPA on Shipping and logistics
(Source: ITyXsolutions, 2022)
As per Radke et al. (2020), Robotic process automation (RPA) works in conjunction with intelligent routing solutions that are powered by artificial intelligence (AI) to improve the effectiveness of the delivery phase of the supply chain. These solutions are responsible for coordinating the numerous shipping and logistics partners. RPA also provides options for verifying orders, producing reports on the status of those orders, updating TMS, informing customers through synchronised tracking, and retrieving relevant data.
RPA in HR management: Software bots are used in RPA in HR to carry out a single, repeatable task that follows instructions in a high-volume, error-free manner. As per Saukkonen et al. (2019), RPA technology verifies employee punch-card times and attendance, and it notifies HR of irregularities. Formerly, it took human resources, and staff, 13 minutes to update regional systems with termination data. The HR bot completes the same operation faster and more accurately, in 3 minutes. Through automation, this tiny difference saves business hours and money. Interesting findings came from the bot's 'entrusted' internship selection exam.
As claimed by Balasundaram and Venkatagiri, (2020), the fundamental conclusion of this study is that to appeal to young customers, businesses must communicate their ideas on how to be distinctive, memorable, and receptive to participation in formats that are already common in well-known social networks. The high restrictions made it difficult for HR to choose interns. According to Fettke and Strohmeier, (2022), the selection process was time-consuming and expensive, and HR met 80% of business objectives on schedule. Four times as many applications were received, 100% of them were closed, responses to applicants were given five times faster, and expenditures were reduced by 35% at Unilever Plc.
An assessment of the implementation (PIR – Post-Implementation Review)
Improved quality of customer service: This technology of this Unilever Plc can very well provide their business with the products required by their customers. Along with this, this plc's diverse workforce greatly reduces business errors and greatly improves customer service. Dogru and Keskin, (2020), suggested that as a result of this, Unilever Plc's customers have the products they need in large quantities because of this plc. And the customers of this plc buy their required products from this plc in large quantities. For this reason, this Unilever Plc is very well able to take the reviews of the plc's products from their customers and improve the product.
Figure 8: Robotic Process Automation
(Source: itconvergence, 2022)
Accelerated digital transformation: Through this technology, Unilever Plc can digitize its entire business process very well. Not only that, this plc is very good at helping their business improve their business-critical equipment through this technology. As a result of this, robotic process automation software empowers businesses to bring together every aspect of the procedures they use effortlessly and without any risk. According to Monem, (2021), along with this, through streamlining the creation of user graphical user interfaces the widespread implementation of RPA software also applies the functionality of conventional programmes. In addition, this technology plays a significant role in improving Unilever Plc's various machine-learning capabilities. As a result of this, this Unilever Plc very well helps to improve on all kinds of machines which helps the growth of this plc later on.
Improved supply chains: This technology has a very significant impact on all aspects of Unilever Plc's supply chain operations. Along with this, the plc's various business marketplaces are playing a significant role in making its supply chain very efficient. As a result of this, this plc can improve its business very well by improving the supply chain in its business marketplace. Unilever Plc can reorganise its various supply chains very well, which has a great impact on Unilever Plc's profitability. This enables the plc to generate very strong annual profit and helps the business to develop very good financial growth. Side-by-side high-scalability robotics technologies transmit fresh possibilities regarding functioning, storage spaces, and management to supply stock levels.
Improve efficiency to generate savings: This Unilever Plc's technology through this plc's instead of merely prohibiting individuals from consuming an excessive amount of time conducting monotonous tasks increased efficiency becomes important. Robotic process automation as well as employee service together in the order contribute to a reduction in expenses. As a result of this, this technology greatly reduces all of Unilever Plc's very expensive costs. For this, the costs of processing all kinds of work of the plc are greatly reduced, and the output of the workers is greatly increased.
Improve business data security: Unilever Plc executives biggest are concerned with the achievable consumption employing RPA tools is the impact they have on overall risk management. As a result of the use of this technology, the plc's various types of business are very important and necessary data is very well secured. Mhetraskar et al. (2020), stated that along with this, due to this technology, various types of risks and threats to this plc are comparatively less. In addition, this plc is not immune to these kinds of problems and continues to do business without fear (Rinderle-Ma and Mangler, 2021). Unilever Plc used RPA to deliver favourable benefits such as diminishing the total number of employee interaction points necessary.
A proposition for the future IS Strategy of Unilever plc
Focus on sustainability: Sustainability is the ability to maintain a process across time. The three primary concepts of sustainability, economic, environmental, and social, are commonly divided. Sustainable goals, such as reducing environmental impact and conserving resources, have been embraced by both governments and businesses (Jurjević et al. 2019). IT that is generated, utilised, maintained, and discarded with minimal negative effects on the environment is called "green IT," sometimes known as "sustainable IT." In conclusion, a Sustainable Information System (SIS) is a system that helps to integrate and apply knowledge by facilitating its creation, evaluation, and application.
Enhance cybersecurity: Protecting sensitive information from being stolen or destroyed is a primary reason why cyber security is so important nowadays. This includes sensitive data, PII, PHI, personal data, data related to intellectual property, and government and business information systems. Security measures for computer networks protect against intrusion from both inside and outside an organisation. Encryption is used to safeguard sensitive information by transforming it into unreadable code (Chowdhury et al. 2019). A firewall is a security system that prevents unauthorised users from accessing a network. By implementing these safeguards, businesses can protect their information systems from unauthorised access and exploitation and guarantee the confidentiality of their sensitive data.
Streamline operations through automation: Streamlining is the method of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of a process by eliminating unnecessary and time-consuming procedures. The goals of process streamlining are to maximise efficiency, maximise output, and minimise waste (Graesch et al. 2022). Business process automation (BPA) is the practice of using technology to replace human labour in business processes to boost output while simultaneously improving quality and decreasing overhead. Computer-based Artificial Intelligence Systems collect data and software to streamline the management of operations and data based on input from a wide variety of sources.
The business operations of Unilever Plc have been considerably enhanced by the digital revolution. It can be concluded that the business activity of the company has also greatly increased, as has its operational effectiveness. Unilever Plc has enhanced decision-making through the use of RPA for inventory management by utilising real-time data and fast notifications. Spreadsheets for inventory have been automated as well as made simpler. As a result of AI's improvements, the company's predictive maintenance in the manufacturing process is now both more accurate in addition, more importantly, more swift. By eliminating the need for human involvement in order confirmation and dispatch, this strategy drastically reduces labour and shipping expenses. This organisation benefits from a diversified workforce in terms of fewer mistakes and better customer service. Because of the use of this technology, the numerous business lines of the plc are very important, as well as sensitive data is effectively protected.
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