AWS for Industries

CPG Partner Conversations: AI-powered planning with Anaplan for better business results

Consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies face the challenge of driving sales and profit margins in a volatile market while chasing changing consumer trends. The CPG industry has an opportunity to harness AI (artificial intelligence) to stay ahead of today’s dynamic and competitive market. AI can dramatically impact the CPG industry in key areas, including demand forecasting and planning, personalization and consumer insights, supply chain optimization, quality control, product development, and customer service. To gain insight and inspiration, we’ve embarked on a series of conversations with executives from Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partners to showcase their leadership and expertise in the use of AI in the CPG industry.

In the latest installment of our CPG Partner Conversations blog series, we talked to Bob Debicki, Senior Director of CPG & Retail Industries at Anaplan, a leader in helping companies contextualize real-time performance and forecast future outcomes for faster, confident decisions. In this blog, Debicki shared his views on the importance of connecting people, plans, data, and insights to help CPG companies drive better decisions.

AWS: Help our readers understand your vantage point. What’s the space you play in, and with what type of CPG executives does Anaplan interact?

Bob Debicki: We play in the enterprise connected planning space and engage with C-level execs in marketing, sales, supply chain, finance, and operations. We believe that by streamlining data acquisition and enabling visibility across business processes and scenario planning, you can improve revenue, profit, and consumer engagement. In working with these customers, We are seeing how many of them want to act with greater agility and improve their planning capabilities. But without the right process, change management, and technology platform, it’s more difficult than ever to achieve.

AWS: CPG companies have been managing through unprecedented disruption. What have been the biggest challenges for your customers?

Bob Debicki: We are seeing that it boils down to a few key issues. First and foremost, we have inflationary conditions that are somewhat unprecedented. Households have taken significant pay cuts in the last year and a half and are making different choices when it comes to spending for both discretionary items and necessities. Additionally, supply chain disruptions have created gaps in sourcing materials, ingredients and other essential goods, causing consumers to shift their buying behavior. Many have accelerated not only their omnichannel shopping behavior but their desire to be engaged in every aspect of the creation and selling of a product. All these conditions combined are putting an extraordinary pressure on CPG companies.

AWS: How do you see CPG companies adjusting their current operating environments to changing market dynamics and consumer expectations?

Bob Debicki: CPG companies are taking note of these changes and have all reacted in very similar ways. For example, to address the inflation challenge, many CPG companies have raised prices and reduced their product and package offerings while still striving to be relevant to consumers. Additionally, many are determined to get the most out of their marketing and trade budgets by improving their capabilities in those areas, changing their spending mix, and aligning better with retailers and direct-to-consumer channels. For supply chain, many are investing in demand planning “digital twin” technologies to understand and enable better decision-making in real-time.

AWS: The CPG industry is incredibly resilient. As you look toward the new normal, what role do technology and the cloud play for CPGs? How do you see technology enhancing the way CPGs make, move, or market their products?

Bob Debicki: CPG companies are banking on the fact that connecting people, plans, data, and insights will ultimately help them drive better decisions. They are looking into ways to seamlessly curate large amounts of data across multiple workloads, and enable better, automated decisions through AI and ML (machine learning). They believe that through this automation they can become more agile, allow planners to focus on value-added tasks, and successfully drive the business into the future. Underlying all this is the need for a data platform that has the flexibility to maintain and make sense of any data source and connecting that with an enterprise planning platform that automates better decision-making based on market insights and other factors.

AWS: With the current CPG industry disruption, how is your company innovating to respond to changes?

Bob Debicki: Our company is working hard to bring the best planning platform in the marketplace. We’re also working with technology and services partners who have deep industry expertise and can provide insights into every part of a product’s lifecycle. It’s surprising how far our customers have come on their journey even though it’s still early in this game.

AWS: There is much talk about a “new normal” going forward. What does this “new normal” look like to you, and how do you think the CPG industry will look three years from now?

Bob Debicki: Three years from now, CPG companies will be closer to providing each consumer with goods and services that are meaningful for them along with ways of obtaining those goods and services that align with their lifestyle journey. The melding together of ecommerce and in-store channels will allow CPG companies to make more targeted offers to the right consumers while providing more relevant ways for consumers to shop.

AWS: Thanks for chatting with us, Bob. We appreciate your insights and expertise.

We hope you enjoy our blog series. If you have questions for Bob Debicki, Anaplan, or AWS, please leave a comment on this blog. To learn more about Anaplan, get in touch on their contact page.

About Anaplan

Anaplan is a transformative way to see, plan, and run your business. Using our proprietary Hyperblock technology, Anaplan lets you contextualize real-time performance, and forecast future outcomes for faster, confident decisions. Because connecting strategy and plans to collaborative execution across your enterprise is required to move business forward today. Based in San Francisco, Anaplan has 20 offices globally, 175 partners and more than 1,700 customers worldwide. To learn more, visit

Bob Debicki

Bob Debicki

Bob Debicki is the Sr. Director of Industry CPG & Retail Industries for Anaplan. In his role he engages with customers to ensure that Anaplan’s connected planning platform creates value and solves the most valuable business outcomes for those industries. Prior to Anaplan Bob served in various sales, consulting and management roles for IBM, AC Nielsen, Information Resources, Inc., as well as J&J’s consumer companies.

Kevin McCurdy

Kevin McCurdy

Kevin E. McCurdy is Global CPG Segment Lead – APN for AWS, responsible for identifying and engaging relationships with strategic ISV and SI Partners. Previously, he served as VP – Demand Signal Management at E2open; was Co-Founder and VP of Strategic Accounts for Orchestro, which was later acquired by E2open; and was also Co-Founder and VP of Business Development and Services at Mercari Technologies. Kevin has 25+ years of experience in supply chain management, category management, and demand signal management working with global CPG companies and retailers, including Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kellogg’s, PepsiCo, Unilever, and Kraft-Heinz. He holds a BSc in Business Logistics and International Business from Penn State.