Labatt takes a

It wasn’t exactly a keg party for Labatt Breweries of Canada when the company first realized the impact its outdated infrastructure was having on its business. Pools of fragmented information were causing several inefficiencies across its Canadian-based operations.

“We had lots of people doing lots of things with different data,” said Mike Ali, change management, enterprise business intelligence at Labatt in Toronto. He made the comments while delivering a keynote address at a gathering of Cognos Inc. business intelligence software customers in Toronto recently.

With 10 diverse provinces in the country selling 60 different kinds of Labatt beer, the company also discovered that it employed 10 different ways of compiling and recording its business data. It needed to organize its information to support its multiple views across various functions and subject areas, according to Ali. The company was also using 11 different systems with 74 transaction sets at its warehouse. Labatt started to deploy a corporate performance management (CPM) system from Cognos. Labatt started its deployment of CPM slowly, focusing first on the commercial side for its sales and marketing departments.

With a new business intelligence and enterprise planning approach, Ali explained that the key thing Labatt learned along the way was the “call before you dig” mentality. “Understand what your business needs are in an enterprise context,” he added, “otherwise it’s easy to start letting the technology drive the solution.”

He said it was important to manage and align the corporate and country-wide metrics; to facilitate best practices, knowledge sharing; and to provide access to information for all of the users.

The company started out having an inconsistent data frame-work. “The company now has simple, standardized reports and nationally consistent views,” Ali said. Now managers across the country are using the same tools. “This reduces manual effort.”