Business Challenge story

When Asahi acquired several Australian beverage businesses, how could the enlarged group streamline and optimize operations even as further acquisitions joined the family?


Asahi Beverages outsourced support and maintenance of business-critical applications such as SAP to IBM® Services, freeing up internal resources to focus on innovation and business development.



focus on business development and customer service excellence


operational costs through shared services


expansion into new markets

Business challenge story

Driving growth through acquisition

Asahi Beverages relies mainly on SAP solutions to manage its extended non-alcohol business processes, from manufacturing through to sales and distribution, and even helping customers order the right stock and maintain their drinks cooling equipment.

Ross Harris, Head of Data Analytics with former responsibility for application management, explains: “For a complex business such as Asahi Beverages SAP is a reliable back-office processing solution with some excellent customer-facing portal and mobile solutions. In my opinion SAP provides a robust ERP solution that a fast-moving consumer goods company needs, from manufacturing all the way through to logistics, procure to pay and order to cash.”

With several new companies joining the group over the past few years, the Asahi Beverages team was keen to reduce system administration effort and maintenance costs, and use the savings to invest in new business applications and services.

Ross Harris remarks: “Asahi Beverages has expanded throughout the Australian & New Zealand region over the past few years, and is adding to its portfolio with new brands and businesses.

“Several years ago, we decided to outsource support and maintenance of our business-critical applications to IBM Services, and at contract renewal we looked hard at how we could reduce costs and improve our operational performance. In particular, we wanted to cut the number of IT incidents, and accelerate the time for resolution of those incidents. This would release valuable time for the technical teams to focus on innovation and business development."

IBM and Asahi Beverages reviewed the existing application management services contract, and built a plan based on reduced incident numbers, increased innovation and enhanced business processes.

“The purpose of working with IBM is to get the best value out of the contract for both sides,” comments Ross Harris. “We wanted to ensure we could always ‘keep the lights on’ and to develop new opportunities for Asahi Beverages. This would safeguard and embed the shared knowledge that we have gained over the last five years, and ensure that we secured the right resources for the rest of the term of the contract. Additionally, we were looking for plans, ideas, efficiencies and new ways of working, because we know that the IBM team has the experience and knowledge to make that happen. And finally we needed to reduce costs – a paramount consideration.”

Knowing IBM are there to support our business is a great benefit.

Ross Harris, Head of Data Analytics, Asahi Beverages

Transformation story

Refreshing managed services

Asahi Beverages agreed to extend its contract with IBM Services, with new policies and targets designed to cut system maintenance fees, increase application flexibility, and accelerate development cycles.

Ross Harris gives an example: “During the review of the contract we discovered that the team was running daily reports that were used to reconcile discrepancies between systems. The new contract is based on the idea that we should find out why there are discrepancies and solve the underlying issues. By learning how to improve we will be able to cut costs, increase efficiency and provide a better service for users – and IBM will be able to reassign valuable resources to more proactive, new business-focused services.”

Additionally, the new ways of working provide for regular governance meetings, problem management reviews, root cause analysis reviews and much more, all within the framework of reducing total costs.

As a result of the refreshed approach, Asahi Beverages can now further enhance the solutions that are rolled out to their customers, such as online services based on the SAP solutions landscape. Non-alcohol customers running cafés, restaurants and food outlets can log into a portal and self-manage their stock, orders, billing and account information. Based on SAP Portal technologies, the solution takes stock, pricing and distribution data and presents it to customers in a simple browser format.

The portal greatly reduces back-office paperwork, and makes it significantly easier for customers to buy from and stay loyal to Asahi Beverages. By eliminating paperwork and integrating customer data with the core SAP solutions, the company gains greater insight into customer behavior, preferences and value.

The next step will be to further leverage the SAP HANA® platform to provide additional near-real-time data analytics.

“One of my objectives is to find out from key stakeholders in the organization what areas they need to focus on from an analytics point of view,” notes Ross Harris. “The idea is that when senior executives go into meetings they will really know where the business is at. We will be able to provide a one-page summary, generated using live data via SAP HANA, using infographics or numbers to represent the health of the organization.”

Results story

Driving down costs

IBM continues its drive to cut the number of incidents and reduce the time to resolution across all systems, and is now generating intelligent reporting and analysis to help improve performance.

“Outsourcing support and maintenance of our business-critical applications such as SAP to IBM works well, because IBM really know the Asahi Beverages business,” remarks Ross Harris. “Asahi Beverages is a 24-hour manufacturing business. Having staff in-house to ensure round-the-clock coverage would be prohibitively expensive. The IBM team delivers shifts that offer continuous coverage for critical applications, maintenance, database and much more, and it works out as a lower cost option than insourcing.

“In many cases the IBM team goes beyond the simple contract agreement. If a call actually concerns a third-party vendor, IBM simply handles it and deals with the other vendors on our behalf—evidence of real partnership in action.”

He continues: “Knowing IBM are there to support our business is a great benefit. We can sleep comfortably at night, knowing that if there is an incident on the manufacturing side at two o’clock in the morning they can ring the service desk, and be routed and the incident managed thoroughly. Even where a key IBM resource is rolled off the team for another client, IBM captures the knowledge transfer within the team so that the service is continuous.”

Ross Harris concludes: “What I like most is the relationship we have created with the IBM team in India. The communication is open, transparent and honest, and the IBM service is completely integrated with our environment. The executives and team leaders are committed to the account, which makes a massive difference, and collectively we are driving the kind of innovation and process optimization that will significantly assist Asahi Beverages with its expansion ambitions.”

business logo

Asahi Beverages

Asahi Beverages formed in 2014 when it announced plans for the commercial integration of the operations of the Schweppes Australia and Asahi Premium Beverages businesses. Later that year, it extended the integration to include Independent Liquor in New Zealand. Today, the group employs more than 2,500 people across Australia and New Zealand, with manufacturing facilities and sales teams in both countries.

Solution components

  • GBS AD&I - EA - SAP - Application Maintenance Services
  • IBM Global Business Services
  • IBM-SAP Alliance
  • Oracle Database
  • SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization
  • SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization
  • SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse
  • SAP NetWeaver Portal

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