China’s baby food market is booming, but brands must work hard to win over choosy consumers. How could Beingmate give its marketing a boost and maintain cost-effective, high-quality manufacturing?
Working with IBM and Oracle, Beingmate embarked on a total business transformation, digitizing processes and reinventing systems to support more efficient operations from manufacturing to marketing.
20% reductionin manual workload driven by more integrated and efficient processes
1 dayto create new marketing campaigns, down from 1 week in the past
30% decreasein time spent processing documents thanks to digitization
Business Challenge Story
Evolving to meet new demands
China is having a baby boom, with close to 18 million infants born in 2016—the highest number this century. As families welcome new arrivals, appetite for baby food is growing, and manufacturers such as Beingmate are keen to capitalize on the increased demand. However, standing out from strong competition and winning over picky parents presented tough challenges.
Guang Li, CIO of Beingmate, elaborates: “Our market has changed dramatically in recent years. Today, consumers have more choice and ways to buy than ever before. Not only must we contend with a growing number of local players, we face very tough competition from foreign brands, particularly when it comes to milk products. And more customers are choosing to make purchases online, which means that must now support both bricks-and-mortar and e-commerce channels.”
The challenge facing Beingmate was twofold: the company had to convince customers to choose its brands over the competition, and it needed to adapt processes and systems behind the scenes to support smarter manufacturing models.
Guang Li continues: “As customer habits and market trends changed, we needed to adapt our strategy to make sure we weren’t left behind. To create more targeted marketing outreach, we wanted to gain a better understanding of who our customers were, what products they purchased and which channels they shopped on. At the same time, to strengthen our sales capabilities, we decided to set up new strategic business units [SBUs], each focused on a specific product offering and market segment. When it came to manufacturing and distribution, we wanted to drive more transparent and efficient operations at every link in the supply chain. This would help us to maintain very high quality standards while driving down costs, sharpening our profitability.”
Turning its bold plans into reality required making big changes to Beingmate’s business processes and IT systems.
Weihua Bao, IT Centre Director at Beingmate, explains: “We still relied on many paper-based processes, and our existing systems were outdated—we just didn’t have the flexibility or performance we needed to support our transformation. We decided to completely overhaul our IT landscape, introducing new technologies and digitizing processes to help drive more efficient ways of working and gain deeper insight into our operations and customers.”
Building a better business
With its sights set on an unprecedented business transformation, Beingmate set out to find a partner with the skills and experience to help make the initiative a success. After closely evaluating five different services providers, Beingmate chose to join forces with IBM Services.
“What set IBM apart was their professionalism and deep understanding of our industry,” says Guang Li. “This was a huge undertaking for Beingmate, and we believed that IBM had the right capabilities to help us achieve success.”
Working with a team from IBM Services, Beingmate outlined a comprehensive plan for optimizing its IT infrastructure, which included introducing all-new enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM) and business intelligence (BI) systems. To serve as the foundation of its new IT landscape, the company selected an integrated suite of Oracle applications.
Weihua Bao recalls: “We had several requirements for the new software suite. Flexibility and performance were key. As a fast-moving consumer goods company, business requirements and market conditions can change quickly, and we need to be able to make adjustments and roll out new functionalities fast. Similarly, during peak periods such as month end, demand on business systems often increases dramatically and we needed a powerful system that could accommodate these spikes in workload and deliver strong performance, even for very intensive workloads.
“Oracle solutions delivered on all these requirements. We liked how flexible the software was, and how it delivered all the capabilities we wanted in a single platform. Oracle also offered an attractive price-performance ratio, which was another important consideration.”
Working with IBM Services, Beingmate made the move to Oracle solutions in just six months, rolling out new ERP, CRM and BI systems to approximately 50 subsidiaries and five production branches. The company has integrated the Oracle software with dozens of existing applications, including product, quality control, supplier, production and warehouse management systems.
With a modern and unified Oracle business application landscape in place, Beingmate has gained a solid foundation for subsequent IT optimization initiatives. For example, the company has replaced many manual, paper-based processes with digitized content and automated workflows. Most recently, Beingmate teamed up with IBM Services to introduce a process-tracing system that provides full visibility of every step in the company’s milk production process.
Guang Li explains: “Recently, the State Food and Drug Administration issued new regulations requiring baby milk producers to provide end-to-end tracing of the manufacturing process—this is to help ensure that all products meet strict quality and safety standards. We worked with IBM to create a complete tracing chain that covers every step in the supply chain: from milk collection and processing to the packaging of the powdered milk, and then from distribution to consumer purchase.”
With the new system, Beingmate can trace exactly what raw materials are used to make any batch of powdered milk, the exact date when a batch was produced, the stores a batch was sold in and which customers bought the products. With this fine-grained insight, not only can the company comply with strict government regulations, it has also brought an unprecedented level of control to its operations.
“Thanks to our work with IBM, we have positioned ourselves as a leader for end-to-end tracing in the baby milk powder industry in China,” states Guang Li. “No other company has introduced the same kind of quality management system as quickly and comprehensively as Beingmate.
“With total process tracing, we can understand exactly how activities are being carried out at every link in our supply chain. Having this kind of insight allows our teams to make much better-informed decisions; for example, if we notice that deliveries from a certain farm are often delayed, we can take steps to speed up the process, helping keep manufacturing on track. Similarly, if we see that a particular product is selling faster in certain stores than others, we can adapt our stocking strategy to capitalize on the incremental sales opportunities.”
Fit for the future
By working with IBM Services to digitize its processes and integrate its operations on industry-leading Oracle applications, Beingmate is helping its business run more efficiently than ever.
Weihua Bao notes: “Oracle applications have brought a high level of integration to our operations; end-to-end process flows are smoother and faster. With unified and digitized processes, our teams can work much more productively. We’ve eliminated a large number of paper-driven processes, which reduces workload for our staff and minimizes the risk of documents getting lost in the shuffle.
“In fact, the entire process from order management to product dispatch is now almost completely electronic. As teams no longer have to spend time managing paper, we have been able to reduce workload in this area by at least 30 percent. This has freed up staff to focus on more productive work.”
The efficiency gains have enabled Beingmate to reduce overall manual workload by 20 percent, as Guang Li confirms: “Now that processes are more streamlined and faster, we can handle higher volumes of work much more effectively. We are able to run a much more productive and profitable business thanks to our work with IBM and Oracle.”
The sales area at Beingmate has undergone a similar transformation. Today, teams use Oracle Business Intelligence (BI) to gain super-fast insight into sales data, and provide executives with up-to-the-minute reports.
“Previously, it was difficult and time-consuming to obtain an accurate and detailed view of our sales activity,” says Guang Li. “Now, all sales data is available within a day in Oracle BI. Thanks to the improved information availability, our teams can create daily sales reports for executives, giving them clear insight into how the business is performing.
“The granularity of analysis and reporting in Oracle BI is very impressive: we can easily drill down into sales data to see what is being sold by product category, channel, region, and more. Our management can identify which brands are most profitable, for example, or which stores might be underperforming. With this insight, they can adjust resources and efforts accordingly to boost sales and profitability.”
In marketing, Oracle Siebel CRM applications are empowering teams to create more targeted and engaging campaigns rapidly.
Weihua Bao explains: “Oracle Siebel equips our marketing teams with a much better understanding of customers’ preferences and purchasing habits. We can use this insight to shape more targeted and impactful marketing outreach, which inspires more customers to buy our products.
“In the past, it could take up to a week to design and launch a new campaign. Today, teams are typically able to put together a complete marketing campaign within one day—that covers everything from drawing up an initial plan to selecting target groups, gaining budget approval and pushing out the campaign.”
He continues: “Working with IBM and Oracle, we have gained unprecedented visibility of our customers and operations, and we can reach out with highly personalized, timely communications. We find these new capabilities to be a very powerful value proposition for Beingmate, as they allow us to get closer to our customers and boost our brand appeal—helping our products stand out in an increasingly crowded market.”
Thanks to its pioneering work with IBM Services, Beingmate has a strong foundation to carry its business into the future.
Guang Li concludes: “We have worked continuously with IBM Services since 2014, and we have enjoyed a very happy and productive partnership over the years. IBM continues to impress us with their knowledge and skills, and we would certainly recommend them to any other company.
“With our business unified on Oracle applications, expertly deployed by IBM Services, we can make the most of the opportunities that the market holds, and continue to bring nutritious, high-quality baby food to families across China.”
Beingmate Baby & Child Food Co., Ltd. (Beingmate) is food manufacturer based in Hangzhou, China. Founded in 1992, Beingmate engages in the research and development, production and sale of infant foods, and maternal and child supplies.
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