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How do you change a disparate, outdated IT infrastructure – in a company with 70,000 employees in 50 countries – into a best-in-class standardized IT landscape?

With a plan that can fundamentally change global business, say the authors of a recent article in 360° – the Business Transformation Journal. The article, entitled “Transformation towards the Future,” describes how a major consumer goods company recently undertook such a project – a transformation that is the largest in its history and perhaps the largest in its industry.

When the company’s future is at stake…

The organization, which asked to be anonymous, undertook this task not because it wanted a slight improvement here or there. It did so because the whole future of the company was at high risk. The company knew that a reduction in yearly costs of $250 million and the closing down of a few business units was a start – but not enough.

Company executives recognized that a cultural change was needed – one that did away with long-standing traditions, processes, and practices that were holding the organization back, particularly in the areas of customer service and operational performance.

The company had IT systems that should have been replaced 10 years ago, along with different infrastructures in various countries, and unique, highly specific systems for different countries and business units. Several acquisitions and disparate data, roles, and processes made it difficult to effectively respond to customer demands and international cost pressures.

To that end, the company undertook what is nick-named “Speeding!” for an initiative that would include a state-of-the-art IT system, standardized processes around the world, and a new dedicated customer service organization.

High demands for a best-in-class solution

The company believes that Speeding! will it achieve better customer service, a higher quality of products and services, and a reduction in costs.

The specific goals for the company’s IT transformation were many, including:

  • Efficient management of the all logistical, financial, and B2B processes internationally
  • Immediate quantifiable benefits
  • Ability to analyze massive amounts of data to drive key performance indicators in real time
  • Auditing and regulatory compliance
  • A reduced total cost of ownership
  • Easier implementation of technological innovations

And perhaps one of the most demanding requirements was the ability to accommodate the company’s business and market needs in the future.

The company worked with industry-leading vendors to build an IT system that was best-in class, with a robust and modular design. It is employing a proven holistic framework for business transformation, services, rapid-deployment solutions, and a high level of support to help it meet an aggressive timeline for the project.

Building success, country by country

The Speeding! initiative is a four-year process that has entailed careful planning and holistic transformation management, as well as a close alignment with the company’s corporate strategy. Business and change leads have been set up regionally and for specific markets to help manage the rollout.

With the focus on a smooth, non-disruptive rollout, pilots countries have gone live on the new platform, while there are temporary solutions for older processes and patchwork IT systems as a short-term fix.

While confidence is high regarding the success of this initiative, there is still fear in both executives and employees that it may not work.

For now, optimism is the driving force and it seems to be working.

To get more details on this company’s business transformation, access the full article on page 54 of Issue 10 of 360° – the Business Transformation Journal. This publication is produced by the Business Transformation Academy, a thought leadership network devoted to providing cutting-edge insights on innovation and business transformation. For more business transformation articles on the SAP Community Network, please visit the 360° – the Business Transformation Journal library.