On 13 May 2021, Mars and Microsoft announced that the companies are expanding their long-term relationship with a new agreement to accelerate Mars’ digital transformation by leveraging the Microsoft Azure platform to optimize its operational speed and intelligent manufacturing supply chains. Together, the companies integrate transparent and responsible data, AI and digital technologies into Mars’ global portfolio of confectionery, pet care, pet services and food businesses. This work positions Mars to further embrace market-leading digital technologies and capabilities, intelligent manufacturing and personalized customer engagement, and improved digital skills training for Associates.
Working with Accenture as a partner to Microsoft, the companies are further expanding a unified cloud and data foundation across all Mars businesses on Microsoft Azure, helping Mars achieve its “cloud-first” strategy and significantly fast-tracking its cloud journey as well as the realization of business growth. This digital infrastructure provides Mars with the business insights needed to accelerate growth, profitability, speed, resiliency, sustainability and, most importantly, build and develop trust with customers and consumers by offering more responsible, transparent and compelling experiences. For example, as one of the world’s largest pet care companies, Mars is driven to make a better world for pets. The company has leveraged the Azure platform to create AI-powered applications and services to support its business.
“Our relationship with Microsoft is helping transform how data and technology are used to continue ensuring compliant customer solutions and build trusted brand and consumer experiences. It will change the relationship between our brands and consumers, deliver hyper-relevant consumer experiences that include content and media, and fulfill needs and expectations across every touchpoint in the consumer’s journey,” said Sandeep Dadlani, chief digital officer, Mars. “After evaluating all the platforms on the market, we chose Microsoft as our primary Mars platform because of its rich portfolio of features, engineering partner ecosystem, talent availability, focus on data privacy, and security and similar cultural values and principles.”
Microsoft Azure’s AI and IoT solutions provide Mars with the tools and capabilities to digitize its supply chain at scale — including manufacturing — while enhancing the collective digital skills of Mars Associates globally. Mars has already made progress to enable this digitization, working with digital manufacturing and operations experts from Accenture’s Industry X group to deploy the Azure Digital Twins IoT platform in its manufacturing facilities. Using Digital Twins to optimize production will help Mars improve margins, reduce waste, and empower on-site associates to make real-time decisions.
Based on this use case, Mars will be able to quickly scale to use similar IoT technologies for optimizing manufacturing across its business segments, including food and pet care, providing process control, consistency and uniformity across product lines and helping to give the company a competitive advantage by increasing speed and capacity and reducing operational costs. In the future, Mars plans to use digital technologies to introduce even more intelligence into the end-to-end supply-chain processes, including identifying the optimal way to create products through digital simulations that take into account climate and other situational considerations, as well as creating greater transparency and visibility into its supply chain from the point of origin to the consumer.
“Through our expanded relationship, we’re harnessing the expertise and insights Mars has gained from more than a century of producing some of the world’s most loved brands to create a layer of intelligence that will drive reimagined experiences for Associates and consumers,” said Judson Althoff, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Commercial Business. “Together, we will create a foundation for cloud, data and AI that will allow Mars to grow faster and transform how work gets done.”
Mars, Accenture and Microsoft share similar ambitions around sustainability, which was a key decision-making factor for Mars choosing Azure. As Mars continues to migrate critical infrastructure and workloads to Azure, Microsoft’s commitment to 100% renewable energy in its datacenters by 2025 will help Mars reach its own goal to reduce its total greenhouse gas emissions across its value chain by 67% by 2050. The relationship is also helping Mars make progress toward its other sustainability goals around environmental impact by implementing technology solutions for reducing the waste of energy, raw materials and water across its production facilities around the world.
The new future of work
Mars has always been considered a forward-looking and modern workplace, ranked fifth in the 2020 Fortune’s Global Best Places to Work List. Mars plans to continue incorporating digital technologies to evolve and transform its workplaces, focusing on increasing Associates’ digital skills. To accomplish this, Mars, Accenture and Microsoft will work together to establish an Innovation Lab to collaborate on the use of advanced technologies, to expedite time to market for new transformative use cases, direct-to-consumer initiatives, sustainability efforts and digitized product innovation. Through the Innovation Lab, Mars will focus on the future of work and how technology from Microsoft can help drive greater efficiency and effectiveness in the modern Mars work environment.
Additionally, Mars is empowering its workforce with modern workplace tools, such as Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Viva, to drive tighter integration between its businesses and increase productivity and collaboration for its Associates.