Things go better with roam

One of the benefits of being the world's biggest and most well known beverage company, is the wealth of innovative ideas available from multiple offices and operations across the globe.

From mainstreet New York, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, to the backstreets of Singapore and Mumbai; even in remote mountain villages from Africa to Mongolia, the brand name Coca Cola is universally-known and recognised. PT Coca-Cola Bottling Indonesia (CCBI) is part of this iconic and truly global beverage sales company based in Sydney, Australia and with regional headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia.

CCBI’s business services director, Bruce Waterfield, based in Jakarta, said ‘a great lever’ in the Coke system was the ability to share information.

“Through the Coke system network we were able to share our vision for sales force automation and within days we had commenced a sharing process with what the Peru Bottler, CJRL, on the other side of the world, had pioneered,” Waterfield said.

“Although there was not a direct fit for their application, we could see the similarities and the most important factor was tacking affirmative action to engage and envision the future model.”

Multi-featured telecommunications

Within three months, CCBI introduced ROAM (Real Time On Line Application for Mobile Users), a sales automation solution using a GSM, SMS, WAP and GPRS telecommunications platform which is operated through a regular, low cost, commercial mobile phone.

Thought to be a breakthrough for Indonesia, ROAM is the first model where handsets are supplied to both internal sales workforce and customers for self management.

CCBI’s telco provider is Telkomsel and products involved with ROAM include Coca Cola’s proprietory ERP system BASIS, the Microsoft .NET framework 3.5, IBM CL and RPG ILE, IBM Websphere MQ, Microsoft IIS, and the Kannel WAP Gateway.

The project is on-track to generate about US$720,000 in annual cost savings and replaces some 8.3 million paper-based transitions per year.

Waterfield said that CCBI required additional functionality to cover all sales processes within the desired model and then entered a build process to cater for conventional selling, shipping, and delivery.

Complete customer management

“Along the way this technology and the vision of the system led to the development of our Managed Third Party (MTP) application which has now lead to a complete end-to-end customer management tool using ROAM,” he said.

“The planned journey was to lay down pre-selling within three months, MTP within 2008 and conventional shipping and delivery by 9 March 2009. We have achieved these targets with 6,600 active handsets deployed with 94 per cent utilisation.”

ROAM removed the duplication of administration costs, enabling the company to re-route 2,313 man hours per day to more productive tasks. The system enables cash, credit and inventory control improvements at the point of sale, plus real-time monitoring and communication of sales and inventory activities.

Other ROAM benefits cited by CCBI include an increased flexibility to support customer needs, by better offering the correct range of products and the ability to capture misses of customer demands in real time.

Waterfield said ROAM further creates a symbiotic customer relationship; a closed-loop process from customer demand until delivery settlement. “Customers are able to communicate directly to the CCBI contact centre and salespeople anytime, without waiting for some to visit,” he said.

Saving 1,840 trees

ROAM was also in-line with CCBI’s environmental strategy. Waterfield said that in the past two years CCIB has reduced its carbon footprint by 23 million sheets of invoice and order paper, the equivalent of 1,840 trees that did not have to be cut down.

He said that ROAM had enabled a complete change in thinking about how CCBI approaches solutions for any area in the business where, for example, data collection, monitoring, and communicating are required.

“In the field survey tools are being modified, asset management solutions reviewed and linked daily performance to online incentive calculations are all in the pipeline for development.”

Waterfield said there were many practical challenges with implementing ROAM in Indonesia, including selecting the right people to explore the opportunity plus the right people to project manage, design, develop and deploy the system.

Another challenge was to obtain the confidence and complete support of the CCBI board of directors and to convince them the project plan could be delivered.

Relationship with Peru

To develop knowledge of the technology platform, CCBI built on the relationship with the Peru Bottler and stayed engaged and transparent. They shifted the reliance on critical project points to Telkomsel, maintaining a transparent relationship with regular weekly account management meetings to forecast deployment zones and to establish an immediate action response process in the field, to tackle connectivity issues when they occurred.

Waterfield said that handset management required a 12 month outlook on commercial handset availability to ensure a range of models existed to meet their specifications and OS mapping compliance for system navigation.

CCBI’s president and director John Seward said ROAM’s biggest benefit was “the 'change platform' we can establish to demonstrate to our customers and ourselves our commitment to innovation when there is clearly value to be gained”.

“We haven't been intimidated by the new technology,” Seward said, “quite the reverse, we see ROAM as a competitive advantage which offers us a vehicle to grow volume and create a new service channel without compromising control.”

Prestigious award winner

The innovation and success of the system, won CCBI a prestigious CIO Asia 2009 award. This is the eighth year of the annual CIO Asia magazine awards, presented by CIO Asia magazine and judged by an independent panel of experts, which recognize regional enterprises and organisations that have excelled through creative and innovative IT projects.

“Moving business out of the data centre and into the hands of the people doing the work is a great challenge at the best of times, and CCBI has done it in an environment not normally considered for high-tech projects,” said one of the CIO Award Judges, Global Refund Group SVP and CIO, Walleed Hanafi. “Combining the ubiquity of cellular with a clever application is noteworthy.”

Waterfield desdribes ROAM as “an engagement jouney with many areas of our business, industry, suppliers, service providers and the Coke bottling community”.

“Each of these has ideas on how improvements can be made or how it can be adopted in other areas,” he said. “We have always been an engaging business so the challenges are welcomed. The over-all impact can be measured in many ways. What is core to our business is that this tool, ROAM, provided us with a better platform upon which to improve our service levels to our broad range of customers.

“Loud and clear the answer is ‘yes’ it has improved our business. Our knowledge of customer needs and behavior has improved and the speed in which this knowledge and information is delivered to the areas throughout the organisation to react, plan, forecast, service, organise and deliver has, and will, continue to improve as the ROAM business model matures.”

Snowballing savings

CCBI president director Seward said the initial idea of what ROAM will deliver from a system perspective was already in place, “however, we are already into design mode for version 2 and 3 and therefore the cost saving opportunities continue to snowball through a self-fulfilling process”.

Seward has this advice for multinational enterprises seeking to ensure that ideas are shared across the global offices of the organisation.

“Every leader of each function and organisation has the responsibility to ensure they have an intermit understanding of the core business drivers,” he said. “The ability to see gaps, advise others of gaps and to share, without self interest, the practices or knowledge that can improve your business, will surely bring value to process design.

“Sharing information which is relevant is key. Questioning existing processes is also important. Seeking improvement in everything you do, should be part of the values all successful people, or companies, adopt.”