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Digital transformation is brewing at Heineken

The mission of Heineken’s “digital and technology” department is to put “data at your fingertips,” according to Elizabeth Osta, director of data management for the company.. The hope is that employees, partners, and customers have easy access to the data they need, within policy and regulatory frameworks, of course.

Osta’s job is to ensure that the data is of good quality, that it is consistent, and that it is in a standard format. It provides data governance, which will enable the company to meet its goals for AI adoption, increased automation, and business process transformation. Osta reports to the digital and technology director.

“My position is equal to that of a chief data officer,” Osta explained to Computer Weekly. in the event. “It was established two years ago with the official start of digital transformation at Heineken. The history of paper began in 2004 when Yahoo! invented the position and appointed Usama Fayyad, who was one of my old bosses. Since then, the role of data has grown in importance in virtually every company, so most organizations now have a chief data officer or equivalent role.”

A new taste of digital transformation

As is the case with most companies that have chosen to undergo digital transformation, Heineken is seeking to modernize and simplify at the same time, and sees the transformation as a multi-year undertaking.

In his presentation, Osta said that for Heineken, digital transformation is about making it easier for customers and supply chain partners to work with the company. To this end, Osta and his colleagues are “reinventing” their business processes to use some of the latest technology. The hope is to make Heineken the most connected brewer.

“My advice to other companies that want to undertake a digital transformation would be to look at the four Cs: customer, crisis resilience, climate, colleagues”

Elizabeth Osta, Heineken

“A little over 10 years ago, working in digital technology was all about applications,” Osta told Computer Weekly after his presentation. “Very soon after, everything became instant services and connecting buyers and sellers. At that point, he realized this couldn’t happen without solid data and well-designed technology landscapes. In many companies, digital teams were siled, making it difficult to fulfill instant services. At our company, we make sure that digital, data and technology work together,” he said.

“My advice to other companies that want to experience digital transformation would be to look at the four Cs,” Osta said. “These are the customer, crisis resilience, climate and colleagues. Identify sources of value and develop both short-term and long-term plans to find ways to transform the company in stages.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the role of digital technology became critical, enabling people to work from home and communicate with colleagues, partners, and clients through a suite of collaboration tools. The choice of tools was important, and Heineken experimented with metaverse tools.

During the lockdown in Malaysia, Malaysians couldn’t go out to buy their favorite street food. Using the metaverse, Heineken replicated the street food experience and added features to order food and beer and have it delivered to your home. Another example of the use of these tools was the recent launch of Heineken Silver in Europe, which took place in the metaverse as a way to emphasize the importance of enjoying beer in real life.

Heineken realizes that artificial intelligence (AI) will become increasingly critical to the company’s success and is eager to use it wherever it makes sense. The company’s attitude is that the best path to adoption of any new technology is to apply it in a way that provides immediate value.

“We have used various AI-powered products in different parts of our value chain and these products have produced immediate results,” said Osta. “Globally, we look for the most promising technologies and how we can adapt them to our needs. At the same time, we encourage innovation at the local level.”

Osta gave some examples of Heineken’s use of artificial intelligence: “We are using AI to predict the color of beer in production. We are using AI to support our sales force with a variety of recommendations, including optimal routes, the best sequence of customer visits, and assortment proposals. We are using AI to take photos in markets where there is a fragmented trade or counter fridges and send suggestions of planograms for optimization. We are using AI to predict the availability of barrels. And we are using AI to predict financial cash flows.”

Digital transformation keeps sustainability within reach

Heineken says that it is fully committed to the path to net zero – and that there are efforts around the organization to achieve this goal. Sustainability is top of mind in strategies and tactics for digital transformation.

“We have several fully organic breweries,” Osta said. “This started in Austria a few years ago with Goesser and is now being replicated in markets like France and Brazil. We also have 3D printers in 40 breweries, with 25 more planned for this year. On-site 3D printing is very efficient when it comes to spare parts management, reducing carbon emissions.

“There is also an incredible effort being made on the data side in terms of what we can estimate and measure. We are always looking for emerging data standards for better quality data to exchange across the ecosystem with our providers. The challenge is that often in sustainability we are faced with dark data, data that is critical but not collected and not visible.

“The corporate value chain (Scope reports 3) requires an ecosystem approach to data sharing. We have started with the first initial steps with our suppliers, ensuring that we can access critical production data. We are also looking at more effective data sharing with retailers. And of course there is a lot of work being done to make sure we capture every step in our internal value chain.”

One of the goals of digital transformation is to increase communication between partners in the supply chain. Heineken hopes that the foundation it is laying now will make it much easier to do the reporting that will be required in the near future.

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