by Divina Paredes

How Dominic Quin stepped up from marketing director to head of digital transformation at Fonterra

Oct 02, 2017
Artificial IntelligenceBig DataBusiness Intelligence

Our bold ambition is to be one click away from every customer, consumer and supplier, in a very personalised way.Dominic Quin, Fonterra

“For a big company like us, it is very easy to get siloed,” says Dominic Quin, head of digital transformation at multinational dairy co-operative Fonterra.

“We wanted to make sure the customer has a unified experience with the whole company, and for us digital transformation was the answer,” says Quin.

“We needed to transform digitally and build one platform, so we could connect all the way through the business.”

He says the company is already on its way there, working with Salesforce to build a connected digital skin around its business units and connecting all staff.

“We are the middle ground between the needs of consumers and business units, customer suppliers and actually translating that need into digital solutions,” he tells CIO New Zealand.

As he explains, Fonterra was created in 2001 as an “end-to-end co-operative”. As such, it can take milk from farmers who own the company and manage that all the way through the supply chain to the consumer.

Fonterra is New Zealand’s biggest company and the world’s largest processor of dairy products, producing 18 billion litres of milk annually.

Fonterra exports 95 per cent of its product to 100 countries. It has more than 22,000 employees, with more than 10,000 based outside New Zealand.

“Geographically we are quite remote across the world,” he says, “we want to get to a position where we can get a little closer to our customers.

“Our bold ambition is to be one click away from every customer, consumer and supplier, in a very personalised way.”

Having one ecosystem that will allow Fonterra to engage, innovate and connect and heighten the customer experience for each of these groups is important, he points out.

At the recent Salesforce Basecamp conference in Auckland, Dominic Quin talks about connecting consumers, customers and employees in one platform as an essential step to digital transformation.

You have got to have that user experience rightDominic Quin, Fonterra

The biggest challenge, he says, was moving away from 30 different CRM systems to one CRM partner.

“It does not matter who you connect with around the organisation,” says Quin, on the top goal of the integration project. “Consumers, customers and employees are all connected together in one platform.”

His team chose one part of the business to test this integration. They chose Farm Source, which at that time had three CRM systems.

Farm Source is the system that integrates Fonterra with the farmers, through a website and apps, a 24-hour helpline and a network of stores across the country.

The co-operative has a network of people that support the farmers. The system, which has a single view of the farmers, allowed the mobile teams to change the way they interact with farmers.

When a farmer raises an issue or seeks information, the representative can drive to the area, look at the notes and have the conversation right then and there. This provides a positive experience for the farmer.

Whereas, in the past, the Fonterra representative will respond by visiting the farm, filling in a carbon copy pad of the details of the conversation, then spending time in the office to update their notes.

“The type of conversation you have changes dramatically when you have a closed single loop for the customer,” he says. “It is about connecting everyone together and everyone having the right conversation in real-time.”

The beauty of a single CRM is you can take a service solution, or an app, to another part of the business and modify it slightly for a different purpose, he says.

Hyperpersonalisation, meanwhile, allows them to get to understand each supplier. This is important for Fonterra, which works with 10,000 farming groups with different farm structures.

“Ultimately, the consumer wants a better experience, Their expectations are growing and one of the ways we can do that is through personalisation”, he says.

“Because of the power of artificial intelligence, that hyperpersonalisation will be achievable in time,” he says.

“So when you go into the website and you are registered on our CMS platform, that goes into Einstein (artificial intelligence platform of Salesforce) and we can personalise content for you.

“Personalised content is a big area,” he says. “Ultimately you don’t want to see things that are irrelevant.”

Quin works closely with Fonterra global CIO Gerben Otter.

Gerben Otter, global CIO, Fonterra

He says the global IS team delivers the technical expertise, knowledge and architecture to make the systems work.

“The focus is putting the customer at the centre of what we do,” he says, of a common theme he and his team has with global IS.

He says the two teams recently worked on a collaboration platform for Fonterra staff across the globe. Any idea from a staff member in the global operation can be posted in the platform and translated into 15 languages.

The response has been great, he says, as they got positive feedback and much better usage of the platform compared to the intranet.

“Internet of Things (IoT) is a massive opportunity for us,” says Quin on another technology focused project they are working on.

Fonterra is now working with Salesforce to pilot IoT on farms. Thus, data like soil moisture and conditions of the grass and paddocks, can be converted into real-time data that farmers can access in the devices they use to assist in production decisions.

“We are piloting how we can work in that space with farmers, as precision agriculture becomes more important for productivity and sustainability.”

It is also about scaling their work on IoT. “We have 10,500 farmers, we want to create solutions that can scale rapidly.”

“How do we get there quickly and how do we keep ahead of the game? We are using technology to enable that.”

Photo by Divina Paredes

Understand the problem you are solving and the importance of design thinking in solving that problem as wellDominic Quin, Fonterra

Career outlook

Prior to Fonterra, Quin was general manager customer experience at Tabcorp in Australia. There he implemented change management programmes, including customer loyalty and advocacy for the group’s four casinos.

He joined Fonterra as general manager marketing and innovation, then moved on to director for marketing and innovation and on to director global marketing services.

The skills that are critical in his team’s work at Fonterra include user experience, search engine optimisation, content management, as well as CRM.

“We have small agile teams that can work across each business unit in Fonterra.”

“It is a very collaborative environment.”

He says his team applies design thinking, as they work on functionalities on applications. An example is that of ensuring farmers, who don’t work office hours, will be able to use their mobile app, when checking on milk production figures at 4am.

At the other end of the scale, the user experience considerations will be different for an app being developed for a sales representative in Hong Kong.

“You have got to have that user experience right.”

He says it is also important to “get your house in order” when it comes to data.

He cites the experience of Farm Source, which was able to move quicker after the division had ensured it had clean data and good data structures.

“Be very clear to define the business problem,” he stresses.

“Understand the problem you are solving and the importance of design thinking in solving that problem as well.

“But the most important is collaborating and being trusted by the organisation, to support them in their journey and deliver to their requirements,” he concludes.

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