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Coke may add fizz to transformation

Coke may add fizz to transformation

Coca-Cola Amatil is considering turning up the wick on its $65 million business-wide information systems transformation to steal a march on competitors hit by the current economic slowdown.

Beverage group Coca-Cola Amatil is considering turning up the wick on its $65 million business-wide information systems transformation to

steal a march on competitors hit by the current economic slowdown.

CCA chief information officer Barry Simpson said the company had

finished the first part of its three-phase, three-year transformation

project, which is based on systems supplied by German software giant

SAP.

The first phase of the project centred on back-office support.

CCA would move into the second phase in the new year, Mr Simpson said.

However, the company declined to detail plans for this phase of the

operation.

The IT transformation was announced in April 2007 as part of a

five-year strategic review of CCA's operations.

Under the program, a back-office overhaul, dubbed OAisys, is due to be

complete by the end of next year, with upgrades to front-end systems

coming in 2010.

Brewing group Lion Nathan's $8 billion takeover offer for CCA, which

surfaced in November, had not changed the company's IT plans. Senior

management had instructed that operations were to continue on a

"business as usual" basis, Mr Simpson said.

Similarly, CCA's IT budget had not come under pressure as a result of

the slowing economy, he said. "If anything, we are being asked if we

can go faster."

The business had indicated that more funding was available to

accelerate the initiative.

"When business is tough, and the economy is tough, that's when strong

companies get stronger," Mr Simpson told a group of CIO peers at a

roundtable conference held by The Australian Financial Review's MIS

magazine. "That's where the opportunities are.

"This is when you want to be investing in business to drive that

growth and to take advantage of weakened competitors."

Managing IT in tough times did not need a change in strategy, Mr

Simpson said. Measures designed to cut cost - such as the

virtualisation of servers and rationalisation of systems - were very

much day-to-day business for IT operations.

"At the end of the day, you are supposed to be driving efficiency out

of your function, whether the economy is good, bad or ugly," he said.

"That is your job.

"If you are doing projects that don't add any value, you have to ask

yourself why you are doing them," he said.

Tackling the downturn was "more about the big-ticket items that can

take advantage of the situation and making sure you are investing in

your people and your business", Mr Simpson said.

A former global vice-president of IT for Colgate-Palmolive, Mr Simpson

took over the transformation program following the retirement of its

instigator, former CCA chief information officer Peter McNamee, who

departed a year ago.

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