by Divina Paredes

CIO50 2019 #26-50: Pieter Bakker, Frucor Suntory

Mar 28, 2019
Artificial IntelligenceBig DataBusiness Continuity

“Collaboration underpins everything we do. It drives our ways of working and the nature of relationships we build,” says Pieter Bakker, Business Technology director (CIO) at Frucor Suntory.

Bakker says the group bases their approach on the Japanese concept of “nemawashi” (translation: “going around the roots”).

This approach lays the groundwork for change by including people up front, gathering their support and feedback, he explains.

One of the ways they have done this is through BXT (a human-centred approach for co-creating projects with the wider teams) and agile ways of working.

“It means collaboration is now fundamental to the way we work with our business colleagues.”

The business technology team has been applying these concepts in implementing projects across three “innovation areas”, says Bakker.

The first area was the large-scale shift to operating as an integrated trans-Tasman organisation.

There were three major technology implementations around these, which were augmented with training and user-adoption campaigns, says Bakker.

These were Cisco DNA for next-generation software-defined networking; adoption of the Office 365 suite for collaboration and communication; and implementation and use of BlueJeans for video conferencing.

“With Frucor Suntory Australia and New Zealand merging into one ANZ organisation, we faced the challenge of ensuring we could enable ANZ collaboration across the company,” says Bakker. “Additionally, we had legacy challenges with older WiFi and network solutions, causing network dropouts and call issues along with the need to drive down travel costs across the Tasman.”

They also wanted to reduce the need for trans-Tasman travel. Widespread adoption of BlueJeans has allowed Frucor Suntory to connect in ways that were previously not possible, he says.

Recently their CEO set up a videoconference with 125 people across six sites and two countries. It was a successful session with a flawless experience, he states.

A second innovation area is the digital space, says Bakker.

Over the past two years in an effort to drive growth, the business technology team partnered with sales to fundamentally change the way they work (using SAP Cloud for Customer – C4C), and the way they interact with customers (an online store using SAP Hybris Commerce).

As a business, Bakker explains, they did not offer a customer self-service option. Ordering was tied to business hours only, and sales representatives were spending much of their time operating as order-takers rather than business developers.

Bakker says the two functions utilised design thinking to understand the problem and used an agile approach to deliver a minimum viable product, which they rolled out online for customers.

“With nearly 5,000 trans-Tasman customers on-boarded to date, our sales reps have more time to focus on in-store compliance and business development, and our customers can place their orders whenever it suits them. The sales organisation is now placing more focus on availability, visibility, display and value in driving for growth,” says Baker.

The sales team faced challenges in their ways of working as well. They have typically been heavy email users, have had no single platform for customer information and interaction, lacked real-time data on KPIs to give transparency, and relied heavily on the use of decentralised spreadsheets. To date, Bakker and his team have successfully implemented and completed rollout of C4C across all of NZ, with Australian completion not far behind.

Bakker says the shift in the way sales operates has been palpable. The number of emails dropped as their representatives used in-app messaging and social feed based communication.

Real-time KPI dashboards enable sales to have a view previously not possible (with live dashboards now on big displays right in the centre of sales).

Business development is now centralised and is a collaborative effort on a single platform. Spreadsheet reporting and tracking is becoming a thing of the past, and an omni-channel hub is now in place for customer management, says Bakker.

The third area of innovation was implemented through the business technology team, enabling the wider organisation to deliver projects and respond to change.

Bakker says the challenges they faced included a fast-changing competitive environment that required adaptation at pace, problems that need cross-functional co-owned solutions, and a strong need to be able to pivot and respond to changing customer and organisational priorities while delivering at speed.

To face these challenges head on, Pieter says the team adopted an agile product-based delivery and governance approach, a DevOps focus on automation, and a design thinking approach to solving complex problems.

“This has fundamentally changed the way the wider organisation collaborates on and thinks about projects and the speed at which value is being delivered to our internal and external customers,” says Bakker.

Last year, the business technology team co-created the IT strategy for the next three to four years with the executive team and senior leaders across the group.

“We used design thinking to understand the problem and a human centred approach we call “BXT” for co-creation,” says Bakker. “BXT takes three perspectives and uses these to identify challenges and co-create a solution: business, technology and experience.”

A lesson in change management

The past three years of full-on implementation of the digitisation programme at Frucor Suntory has ingrained in Bakker an important lesson in leadership.

“As a CIO, you’re paid to make a difference and get things done,” he explains.

“Over my career I’ve learned many lessons about how best to create sustainable change, but one of the biggest learnings came recently when tackling the move to digital. What I thought was support for a major change was, in hindsight, tentative at best.”

He says the group invested in digital sales and marketing technologies as part of the digitisation programme, so spent months presenting these to the leadership teams. The executives loved the concept and signed up for a three-year programme of Digital for Growth.

It was a cause for celebration for BT, and they got down to work. However, they realised they needed the rest of the organisation to also “own the vision”.

As the commercial pressures came on, the business units’ priorities were not in developing digital channels or using new tools. Instead they continued to use their existing methods and processes, and launching new products and promotions as they always had done, says Bakker.

His team persevered, and over time, got the sales team on board. They set new targets for online customers, cycled through more adoption sprints, each time gaining more customers and more confidence.

Today, he says, the online store and other digital initiatives have gained real traction. “We’ve surpassed customer volume targets and territory managers are reporting that our new systems are making customers lives and their lives easier,” says Bakker.

“In hindsight we had been selling the dream of digital, then getting buy-in from our business colleagues,” says Bakker. “But when it got hard, they did not truly own the vision.”

This, he points out, was not the right approach to creating sustainable change.

“Instead, we needed to find a way where the business had the dream of a better way and they owned the way. Business technology would partner and co-create but not be seen to own the future.”

They recently tested this approach. Frucor Suntory is facing another major step change, standardising business processes and systems across ANZ, and moving to a new ERP platform.

“We can’t afford to drop the ball with the whole business at stake,” he explains.

They started by getting the support of senior executives, and asking them to identify a group of leaders that could work with them on a joint discovery and road-mapping project.

We took these leaders and other specialist subject matter experts through a comprehensive review of the business, says Bakker.

They set up dedicated transformation hubs, ran workshops and mapped customer journeys.

“Over a three-month period, we developed a groundswell of support for change, so when our executive committee gathered for a playback session, there was an enthusiastic buzz throughout the organisation,” says Bakker.

The business leaders sold the need for change. They identified areas needing work and shared the pain inaction was causing.

“We’ve dubbed our approach BXT (Business – eXperience – Technology) to highlight the collaboration and co-creation taken to bring all three perspectives to bear in the process,” he says.

“The result is another major change programme signed off,” says Bakker. “My BT team was there to co-create and support, but our business colleagues now truly own the vision along with us.”