In 2020, the tobacco industry paid taxes worth 12.35 billion USD to the US government and became one of the leading contributors of revenue to the states. Producing, marketing, and distributing one of the most profitable consumer goods in the market is no cakewalk and needs mature business processes and slick technologies. This blog describes the challenges of one of the world’s largest tobacco manufacturers and how we helped them overcome those. Anand Venkatesan, the Head of Strategic Initiatives at Ivy Mobility, led this implementation and the blog also has flavors of his experiences.
This tobacco giant has a worldwide distribution network powered by multiple technologies and on-premise servers. One of their biggest challenges was fragmented operations. Each of their markets was on a different route-to-market solution making it extremely difficult to manage operations globally. The lack of real-time data and standard measurements across markets led to inaccurate and inconclusive data points that affected their business decisions.
The company needed a scalable and agile solution to manage global operations, support market-wise customization, and get real-time business visibility.
With different markets under its global supply chain, this leading tobacco manufacturing company used multiple region-specific on-premise service providers to support operations. These disparate systems were expensive to maintain, caused data inconsistencies across the supply chain, and hampered the decision-making capabilities of teams. Initially, the company built an in-house route-to-market solution to support their unique business requirement. However, both these attempts did not succeed. Then, they decided to check the solution providers in the space and wanted a solution that would work for all markets alike.
After thorough research and understanding, the company decided to build an ecosystem of products that would seamlessly talk to each other and bring transparency in their processes. Our solution is part of this ecosystem, and we supported their route-to-market strategy.
Building a digital ecosystem by integrating multiple products was tedious and required specialized technological requirements. However, it turned out to be fruitful and benefited the business in many ways. Let’s see how.
The multinational tobacco company had market-specific software in every geography, and creating a single source of data for the organization was next to impossible. The order fulfillment had to run alike globally, and they also needed merchandising and trade coverage capabilities across markets. After an intense evaluation process, the company chose Ivy’s Direct Store Delivery (DSD) and Retail Execution Solutions to address their unique requirements.
The tobacco giant chose our solution built on Salesforce and wanted to start the pilot phase as soon as possible. For the first release, the company handpicked markets with a mix of modern and traditional business processes: Australia, New Zealand, and Ukraine. The success of Ivy at each handpicked market ensured that the system would work globally as well.
Unifying data from all markets and standardizing the processes across all regions was our first challenge. Collaboration with the existing region-specific features into the Ivy environment was necessary to make this happen. The tobacco conglomerate curated a Global Business Team comprising experts who helped us collate their requirements globally and worked closely with us.
Phase 1 launched our Retail Execution in Australia, New Zealand, and Ukraine markets. The tobacco company was delighted with the success of this execution as the solution met and exceeded their requirements, leading to improved trust. It laid the foundation of a great relationship, and we knew it back then. As we proved our mettle, they offered us other markets as well.
In the second phase of this implementation, we launched our Direct Store Delivery (DSD) solution in Chile and Poland. The successes came pouring our way, and there was no looking back after that.
User Access Testing (UAT) is usually one of the most vigorous phases of any large-scale solution implementation. For this implementation, we started with off-ground users in their UK office. The entire setup configured was tried thoroughly, leaving no scope for errors.
In the second part of this UAT, handpicked regional users and field representatives were involved. These users were from different functions: finance, dispatch, delivery, and others.
After the Business Go-Live of each market, we provided the company with 4-to-6 weeks of hyper care to ensure a smooth market adoption. On several occasions, our employees traveled to these markets, took real-time user feedback, and provided guidance for the initial days of the system.
Readying the Ecosystem
We had developed our system to meet the client’s unique route-to-market requirements. As a next step, we needed to integrate our solution with other technologies in their digital ecosystem. Our team collected, cleaned, streamlined, and standardized all data flowing into our solution to work uniformly across all systems. The data would then feed into their ERP, where order taking happened. The entire business analytics is now running onto this data in the ERP to provide real-time updates and intelligence. With this functional ecosystem, the company experienced the power of having everything on one platform. It is also one of the biggest strengths of our solution-Single Source of Data and Single Source of Truth.
It’s been four years of this partnership, and it keeps getting better. The technology solution was the starting point, and the tobacco company is always looking forward to our quarterly release cycles for updates and enhancements. They are now in 37+ global markets, and we are excited to see their growth.