Business Transformation in Action

Joe McKendrick

Coca-Cola Service-Enables its Merchandisers, Saves Millions

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At last week's SOA Summit hosted by Software AG, we heard a compelling case study that had all the elements of perseverance and belief in what service orientation can accomplish.

Kevin Flowers, director of enabling enterprises for Coca-Cola Enterprises, described his SOA journey, which began with the service-enablement of merchandisers through mobile technologies.

Previously, all 11,000 merchandisers -- who work out in the field, visiting stores -- keep in touch via an 800 call-in number and paperwork forms. Flowers pointed out that there were charges associated with line usage, and that the FCC charges for payphone usage alone -- keep in mind that 11,000 people were doing this everyday -- amounted to more than $2 million a year.

The solution was to provide Blackberries with links to all merchandising services, and in the process save tens of millions of dollars in phone charges and travel expenses. Along with reduced phone charges in the millions of dollars, Coca-Cola's merchandising operations saved more than $3 million a year in travel costs, Flowers added.

Interestingly, corporate management wanted to pull the plug on the project, but Kevin's team believed in the project so much they just plowed ahead with it. Now, he says, the effort is delivering so well and efficiently that the sales organization is demanding that they get the same kind of solution as well. "Our sales vice president demanded to know why merchandising people now had more capability than the salespeople," he said.

Coca-Cola also adopted geo-spatial management capabilities as part of its rollout. Planners can now view mashup maps of various retail outlets to assess the impact of weather and other events.

"The defacto communication method within an company is going to be services," Flowers pointed out. He is also a strong believer in cloud-based services. He noted that "If you don;t figure out a way to manage your resources better, the cloud will."

In this blog (formerly known as "SOA in Action"), Joe McKendrick examines how BPM and related business and IT approaches can promote business transformation.

Joe McKendrick

Joe McKendrick is an author and independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. View more

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