HEINEKEN is on a quest to become the most-connected brewer on the planet, which means event-driven integration is at the heart of operations.
In a market where consumer demands and preferences can instantly change, being agile is no longer a “want” but an absolute “must have”. HEINEKEN, being one of the largest brewers in the world, knows this all too well. To ensure the company can keep pace with ever-changing market conditions and business requirements now and for the future, HEINEKEN’s focus is now on becoming the best-connected brewer through the launch of its EverGreen global business strategy. Seeking technology capable of facilitating this goal has been fundamental for its success.
HEINEKEN, renowned across 190 countries for its production of beers and ciders, is a household brand with an excellent reputation. But this alone won’t suffice in the current market climate, and the company has recognized the need to ensure resilience and adaptability in its operations going forward. This has led to the company’s EverGreen strategy – a business-wide plan to drive superior growth, fund that growth, raise the bar on sustainability and responsibility, become the best-connected brewer and unlock the full potential of its people.
To underpin this strategy, HEINEKEN turned to its Digital & Technology (D&T) team to help enable corporate-wide resilience and agility. What was the challenge? To integrate thousands of business-critical applications across payments, logistics, inventory management and more, while also connecting dozens of separate operating companies (OpCos). It also needed to connect across 350 global and local brands in more than 190 countries.
Bursty erratic data flows to enable streamlined operations
According to Guus Groeneweg, HEINEKEN’s product owner for digital integration, becoming the world’s best-connected brewer means “providing all internal and external customers with real-time access to data provided through integration assets, and ensuring those integration processes work effectively, consistently, and without disruption.”
Enabling consistently fast, reliable and robust integration processes across diverse business functions is not an easy task for a company that frequently sees data come in large bursts from geographically dispersed sources. That “bursty” data flow, driven by orders on the back of a new beer brand launch, can overwhelm integration platforms that rely on point-to-point communication via synchronous APIs.
Event-driven infrastructure bolsters cloud-based D&T strategy
Two years ago, HEINEKEN faced challenges relating to the increasing volume of orders it was receiving, which sometimes resulted in duplicate and lost orders. Event-driven integration was the answer. By event enabling its integration platform, HEINEKEN’s processes have become more robust and reliable.
“Taking an event-driven approach has increased efficiency in what data is moved, and how this is done,” explains Groeneweg. “In the past, HEINEKEN would see hundreds or thousands of point-to-point scenarios, but now they are being leveraged with the 1-to-many integration patterns, where an application only has to produce an event (like an order of beer) once, and any other applications in the system can just subscribe to what they want to receive and get it when it’s published.”
“Each and every capability of our digital integration strategy is in place. We enable all required integration patterns through a limited set of integration platforms, from interfaces between local systems in Vietnam up to interfaces from global ERP systems to local CRM systems.”
“That is really required, with some big standardization programs we are now deploying to more than 190 countries. Moving away from 70+ different ERP instances with different data models and process definitions to a lean core with a loosely coupled, yet tightly integrated architecture; from a large set of fragmented solutions to modern cloud-based platforms that optimize end-to-end ways of working in specific area,” explains Groeneweg.
Why EDI is the answer for better connected processes
For event-driven integration to work, the whole process needs to work correctly and efficiently; it’s what allows all the processes and applications in the value chain to communicate in real-time.
“Consider this chain of events: a large supermarket chain in New Zealand places an order through HEINEKEN’s B2B portal, the order is processed in the back-end with the payment information, the beer is delivered, the packing lists in the brewery have to roll out of the label printer etc.,” Groeneweg explains. “Each of these activities is supported by multiple integrations between front- and back-end. All these digital integrations are developed, operated and monitored by the HEINEKEN global digital integration team.”
Agility and resilience will always be key in a shifting consumer market
There has been a paradigm shift in consumer expectation and power. Today, customer experience drives differentiation. The need for real-time, secure transactions anywhere within the 190 countries in which HEINEKEN is active has changed integration into an enabler.
HEINEKEN’s event-driven digital transformation has given the brewer a competitive edge, enabling it to operate smoothy around the world with excellent experiences for customers, consumers, suppliers and employees. Further, it has empowered the brewer to deploy scalable “plug and play” solutions quickly and take advantage of timely business insights.
Making real-time data an expected standard for all involved
HEINEKEN is looking to utilize its capabilities to build seamless digital interactions across the entire value chain, and give all HEINEKEN software users, both internal and external, the information they need to make smart decisions.
“To achieve this, event-driven integration must be used to deploy a global observability solution that makes data-driven insights available to operational teams in real-time. This allows us to instantly feed our business with the right data, for the right consumer, with the right application, at the time they need it,” continues Groeneweg.
Event-driven integration makes the EverGreen business strategy a reality
The EverGreen business strategy is a major step for HEINEKEN to become a better-connected business, and like many other organizations, the digital transformation journey is well underway. From meeting rising consumer demands, to staying ahead of the market curve, technology will prove its worth in HEINEKEN’s expedition to become the world’s most connected brewer.