Brewer and beverage giant Lion is replacing of up to 550 legacy applications and moving to the cloud, with Lion New Zealand first to test the new systems.
Chief information officer Grainne Kearns told the AWS Summit in Sydney last week that for Lion, transformation came in the form of a three-year project to roll out SAP S/4 HANA delivered from AWS' cloud.
But the project was about more than technology, she said. In line with the company's ten year strategy it had to be about "customer, creativity and culture".
The IT group at Lion felt that change strongly, with 42 per cent of the team now being new staff, Kearns said.
The old Lion had a high degree of technical debt, a plethora of legacy applications and a need to transform to reduce costs and increase agility.
When the transformation started, Lion had nothing in the cloud at all but partnered with AWS for the capability to quickly set off on that path.
"I had 550 legacy applications that I have to use every day to run my supply chain end to end, so you can imagine the excitement I'm having with that," Kearns said.
The transformation had to address both business-to-business customers in the supply chain and consumers, who are developing more sophisticated tastes and demanding more.
Kearns said B2B was how Lion went to market, so it was very important to be able to service them in the way that was required.
B2B customers want a similar experience to using Netflix or Uber Eats, she said.
"They want to be able to see what stock is available so they can place their orders and to be able to track their orders from beginning to end.
"They want to be able to see an advance shipping note to tell them something is on the way and when it will arrive.
"To be honest, I have some significant challenges in being able to effectively manage that supply chain."
The piece that pulled Lion's 100 plus brands, its channel IT team, its consumer market and its B2B community. together was SAP, she said.
The vision was to create something that would allow one way of doing business across the entire organisation: one set of systems, data and processes that meant Lion was all doing business in the same way.
The vision also enabled data to be used to make fast and accurate decisions.
"It was to have a tech solution that would give us an edge to compete in the global environment and data that would enable us to manage our resources and our costs so we could be successful," Kearns said.
Lion became one of first fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) organisations in the region to implement SAP S/4 ERP core together with the full range of cloud applications.
A team of 550, spread across the Philippines, India, Germany, Australia and NZ, worked on the project which went live in August last year in New Zealand, within two weeks of its scheduled date.
The technology will be rolled out in Australia this year.
The biggest problem was end to end supply chain for Lion's beer business.
"You couldn't say we were faint-hearted," Kearns said. "We dived in and took a different approach and just went for it."
Customers in New Zealand are seeing the benefits, Kearns said. One small customer, with no experience or exposure to technology, spent an hour training on how to use the new portal and is now reporting increased revenue of $200,000.
Customers can see what is available, see pricing, see their own past ordering history and order online quickly and easily.
While all that was going on Lion recognised the need to deliver transformation in its IT unit as well, in parallel with the business transformation.
The company stood up an innovation and accelerated delivery team, took on new partners and new tools and "refreshed" its IT team for new capabilities.
Staff were hired with a digital culture in mind to create a more collaborative model using innovation frameworks and Agile delivery methodologies.
"Users in organisation have become very excited about IT innovation and recognise that we are an enabler of that and come to us with initiatives they would like to do," Kearns said.
Among other projects, Lion has worked on IoT to reduces wastage of milk from the farmer to the factory, smart bar technologies using facial recognition as well as some AI and machine learning work around pricing.
"We knew while we were doing the transformation it wasn't just a lift and shift and a migration around our legacy systems and movement to the cloud, but also around a big cultural shift within IT, driving transformation from there, all with the intent to line up to our ten-year strategy around customer, creativity and culture and building a Lion for the future."
Rob O'Neill attended AWS Summit in Sydney as a guest of AWS.