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Cow to consumer in 24 hours: Business value for Consumer Products companies from Enterprise SOA

There is growing evidence that Consumer Products companies have created business value by leveraging Enterprise SOA concepts. I would like to share a few examples where leading companies have combined technology with innovative ways of doing business to create new economic value.


A large food company with more than 60 production sites is faced with the continuous challenge of providing fresh products in a competitive fast-paced environment. For instance the fresh milk business needs to get the milk from cow to consumer in 24 hours. Private labels pose a significant threat, and the agility of doing business is key to success.


This company has leveraged Enterprise SOA to move the game from operating at a local level to an enterprise level. A corporate manufacturing portal has been deployed at local sites. Composite applications connect multiple systems at the MES and shop-floor level to various planning and control systems, providing organization-wide analytics. The increased visibility into the production sites has enabled them to react faster to changing market demands.


Another large food company has designed a central product traceability system using Enterprise SOA. The objective is to make a product recall very efficient, in case that is suddenly required. The bio-terrorism act requires that in the event of a special situation, all impacted products must be recalled within 24 hours. By connecting multiple systems, this company has the ability to see in one screen which production batches of a product were produced on a particular date, all the ingredients including packaging used for each batch, every pallet associated with a batch, where each pallet is at a given time, and to which customers those pallets were shipped.


A well-known beverage company is faced with increasing customer expectations for accurate same-day shipments from its warehouses. This needs to be done without expanding facilities or staff, in order to keep costs under control.


This company has taken Enterprise SOA to its warehouses where voice picking solutions have led to significant increases in productivity and accuracy. By creating an enterprise-wide voice UI capability on SAP Netweaver they are automating processes for mobile workers, customers and vendors. Results include accelerated order fulfillment at higher accuracy levels. Redundant quality assurance processes are getting eliminated which increases agility and reduces labor costs.


A home and personal care company with many brands operating in a competitive environment is measuring its customer service levels in terms of actual shelf-in-stock rates. They are creating new processes with the retailer to better serve the shopper, using Enterprise SOA concepts. Shelf out-of-stocks have been reduced by up to 50% as a result of this innovative way of doing business.


A global high fashion company that sells apparel and footwear through hundreds of its own stores as well as thousands of other retail stores, faces unpredictable consumer demand and slow industry growth. This company has leveraged Enterprise SOA to transform its sheep- to-store business from a push to pull model.


Push-oriented planning, production and logistics have been transformed to a pull-driven supply chain, using an agile architecture. Processes involving creative, sales and operations have become connected and have become more transparent. The company is growing at more than 3 times the industry growth rate by increasing product availability, improving quality as well as providing advanced available-to-promise capabilities.


There are many such examples that are now being reported, and several best practices are emerging. The above cases give us ample evidence that enterprise SOA can provide business value to Consumer Products companies while reducing costs.

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