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In this Digital CxO Leadership Insights interview, Mike Vizard talks to Eduardo Luna, global head of category and shopper insights at Heineken, about why the multinational conglomerate decided to work with Stravito to build a Knowledge and Insights Management (KIM) platform.



Mike Vizard: Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of the Digital CxO Leadership Series. I’m your host Mike Vizard. Today we’re with Eduardo Luna, who’s the global head for category and shopping for Heineken, and we’re talking about a project that they have created to manage data more efficiently. They’re working with a company called Stravito. Let’s dive in. Eduardo, welcome to the show.

Eduardo Luna: Ah, thanks very much, Michael; pleasure to be here.

Mike Vizard: All right, Eduardo. What exactly was the motivation for building this platform? And how did you guys wind up working with Stravito? What were you kind of trying to solve as the fundamental problem?

Eduardo Luna: Yeah, our journey began with this strong desire of the company to build more of a consumer and customer centric mindset. We are a pretty much decentralized company. So we wanted to really ignite the curiosity and the passion for understanding consumers better. It has been a challenge, of course, and as a decentralized company, you can imagine that this is one of the key challenges. And for this endeavor, we were trying to find a partner that helped us to centralize our consumer and company knowledge in just one place. Of course, the intention is to democratize all this knowledge and make it accessible for everyone in the company. Not just those persons that are in the insights functions, not that are very used to this type of information, to this type of data. Of course, we needed to ensure in that journey that our teams could easily find all this information, and they digest this knowledge. So for us, it is not only our repository, let’s say. And it’s important to mention that this is not our first insights platform; we previously had another one. But we suffered a lot in many, many ways, from the poor shopping user experience that we had in the past. So we were really trying to find a vendor partner that could help us in this journey and onward to solve these issues.

Mike Vizard: Is this mainly for data that you’re collecting directly from interactions with consumers? Or is it also collecting data from your partners, distributors and all the folks that kind of sell Heineken products anywhere?

Eduardo Luna: I can say that is everything; one of the things that we were trying to create is an ecosystem. Of course, we think the idea is to be the central heart of everything. So we are connecting information that we are producing in every market, built by our CMI teams. But also we are connecting information that is produced by our partners. We are in the middle of this journey. So it’s more than just a repository for CMI or marketing information. It’s more than that – we are really trying to connect everything. And, of course, the KIM, as we call it, KIM, internally at Heineken, stands for knowledge and insights management platform, which is, of course vital and crucial for this.

Mike Vizard: So you have the core platform that you got from your vendor partner. The question is: What exactly did you guys need to do to extend it or customize it for your use case?

Eduardo Luna: Yeah, one of the things that we realized is that when people, let’s say, were facing new solutions into the organization – that were provided by external vendors, they were more resilient. So we found out and we learned a lot now with the previous platforms that we were managing, that if we customize the look and feel, and if we customize and curate information, that is an extension of the platform, it’s always better to drive adoption and to generate engagement. So that’s why we did what we did. In this case, we created the platform with the look and feel of Heineken. And of course, we tried to find out a very nice name that resonates internally. KIM stands for something that could be relevant not only for a few functions, but for everybody in the organization.

Mike Vizard: I mean, do you have to rethink your approach to data management to use this platform? It seems like there’s a lot of data with a lot of variations and formats. So how did you pull all that together?

Eduardo Luna: It’s, it’s a nice question, because we already we have more – almost 1000 documents and reports in the platform. So you can imagine that it’s very hard to manage that amount of data. In this case, of course, this parameter has been crucial in the process. Of course, in the implementation process, we were very careful about the data governance and data quality and how we’re going to be sure that we are accomplishing that privacy and security matters. But, at the end, it’s Stravito – they are really helping us to manage this amount of data, helping us to be relevant for, in terms of Heineken, helping us to digest better all the information that we have available there.

Mike Vizard: How much time and effort went into this? What was kind of required on your side? Is there a whole team of folks dedicated to this? Or how did you approach it?

Eduardo Luna: Yeah, it’s a very important factor because when we’re talking about, in terms of technology and implementation, of course, the CMI team didn’t work. Alone, let’s say, the Heineken site and technology team provided invaluable support. In this process, of course, we invited different kinds of teams to be part of the process – to be part of the procurement process. But to be fair, in terms of timing, it was not that long, from the RFP, to the implementation. I remember, it’s about six to seven months, something like that. So it was not very long; of course, we learned from previous experiences. And we already had a repository, so of course, we migrated the data. But of course, that implies different kinds of rollout programs and training sessions from Stravito working together to really position teams within the organization as a central point for everybody, though. So that was more or less the journey.

Mike Vizard: We hear a lot about concepts like DataOps these days. How did you guys kind of change the way you think about managing data as a result of the platform?

Eduardo Luna: We think that managing data, it’s one of the most important pillars in our organization. Nowadays, we are really taking this very seriously. And the plan is to continue raising the floor and raising the ceiling in how we are training and using the information. So one of the things that we really liked was working with distributors and the capabilities that they have – that they are very, let’s say, they are a future proof partner now that is going to help us to really digest the data and to implement and to embed new technologies like AI in the process. So we trust that Stravito is a great partner to help us in this manner.

Mike Vizard: What’s next for you guys? What are you thinking about from here? What’s the roadmap look like?

Eduardo Luna: Yeah, for us, I think that we are, of course, thinking about how we’re going to evolve, knowing the future team, what is going to be the next stage. And of course, in this case, AI and all the capabilities that we can have over this platform, I think that can unlock infinite possibilities now for Heineken and is going to be helping us to digest better information, to connect the dots better and to reuse more and more insights. And, of course, to follow this past base and know what the modern world is showing us and technology is changing every time. So the plan is to continue evolving together; it’s going to have been one of the most important partners in this matter, at least from the CMI perspective and the marketing perspective. And we really want to work together in this  journey.

Mike Vizard: As you think about the impact of this platform, how has it changed the relationship between your team and the rest of the business? Is there a tighter relationship? Or, you know, what are the end users telling you about this?

Eduardo Luna: Well, we have very nice examples of how people are using the platform now. KIM is now in every decision we are making. So I think that this is the best thing, or the best way that we can talk about know the benefits of the platform or how people are using it. For example, I can tell you that it is now very normalized within the organization. So now if we want to share information with a peer, we are not sending it over through an email, for example – we are sharing things, for example, to access directly to the information. Also within the first 12 months, we already reached 1300 unique users. For example – to the platform – and 3% of them are accessing at least once a month now in a regular basis, consulting and adjusting information over the platform. Additionally, for example, senior leaders – they don’t need to wait for the information. So one of the things is that we are more agile with the times for to go to the market; no one has to wait for information, and that stands, of course, knowing that the bigger operation companies that we have are sharing all these great pieces of information that they are producing somewhere in the marketplace in data. And on the contrary, now there’s more markets that we have at hand and they are using all this information and are getting access. In the past, they didn’t get access to all the information that was produced all around the world. So now, we are really exploding, and the data and the knowledge that we have, mainly from consumers, but also from the business.

Mike Vizard: What do you know now that you kind of wished you knew a year ago or even two years ago before you started this project?

Eduardo Luna: Yeah, one of the main lessons that we have learned from the past success managing different kinds of platforms and managing data is – adoption. If nobody’s using the information, we can say that we are not having success. So that’s why one of the main learnings is that we were looking for a partner. And it’s not only for Stravito in this case – it is for everything that we are trying to embed in this ecosystem. We are trying to find platforms and partners that really deliver seamless user experience, friendly, intuitive info that really unlocks the adoption process. And of course, support with engagement – it could be more related to many other things. But this, let’s say simplification of the process. It’s what we want when we’re talking about data.

Mike Vizard: Do you think that your organization as a whole has a greater appreciation for the value of data? I mean, we hear that data is the new oil, but it seems like we have limited ways of refining that data. So the end result is a lot of the data doesn’t have as much value as it might. So, you know, is this all really about finding ways to surface the data in a way that makes it actionable?

Eduardo Luna: Yeah, I think that our vision is more about how to use more efficiently the data – how do we use the knowledge that we are creating all around the world? And this is very aligned to the company’s vision for the future. Now for the evergreen strategy that we have for Heineken, one of the pillars of these big strategies for Heineken, is about democratization – about building passion for consumers and customers. And it’s fully related about data. So it’s not about the amount of data or how much data we are able to process, but how efficiently we are able to manage, and to use that data, how platforms like this study could help us to really put in front of us, in seconds, the information that we need, and that we’re looking for. It’s helping us to connect the dots. It’s helping us to be more agile in the market. And this reusing of insights is also helping us, for example, to drive agility within the teams.

Mike Vizard: So ultimately, what’s your best advice to your colleagues as you look at this and what you kind of learned from it? If you were sitting around having a chat with four or five of your similar minded souls, what would you tell him?

Eduardo Luna: The best advice that I can give to other business leaders now that are facing these type of challenges of how to manage data, or how to digest data is to be open to to experiment. Now, usually, companies, and some big companies, have been very resilient to embed this data for these kinds of things. But more and more data is a competitive advantage for the organization. So, of course, the best advice that I can give is experiment, and be open. But try to prioritize and choose these platforms that provide you these, these user experiences. As I mentioned, adoption is the most important part of this process. Of course, the platform needs to have the capabilities that you are looking for in terms of digestion, managing, searching, et cetera. But at the end, if you really want to be successful, you really need to drive this adoption and engagement within your organization. So select these partners that are also committed, let’s say with this continuous improvement in a regular basis. I think – because technology is evolving rapidly. And it’s crucial to stay responsive. It’s right to prioritize these type of partners that are really in this continuous journey for improving and enhancing processes.

Mike Vizard: Alright, folks, Well, you heard it here. It’s all about data management when you think about it, and of course, DataOps is core to that. Eduardo, thanks for being on the show.

Eduardo Luna: Thank you very much Michael. Thank you very much for your time.

Mike Vizard: And thank you all for watching this latest episode of the Digital CxO Leadership Insights series. You can find this episode and others on the website. Once again, thanks for joining us and we’ll see you next time.