Whirlpool Corporation looked to drive growth, improve efficiency and enhance the consumer experience, but was limited by aging infrastructure, including a legacy SAP ERP deployment.
Whirlpool Corporation is migrating SAP ERP powered by SAP HANA to IBM Power Systems in the IBM Cloud, with IBM Services for Managed SAP Applications, freeing up resources for innovation.
SAP HANAexpertise of IBM enables Whirlpool Corporation to invest in business priorities and innovation
Highnear-continuous availability supports 24/7 global operations
IBM Cloudand IBM Power Systems create a scalable platform for future growth
Business challenge story
Increasing consumer engagement
In any consumer-focused business, engaging with consumers is key to ensuring their long-term loyalty and increasing sales.
With a century-long record of growth and success behind it, global home appliance producer Whirlpool Corporation knows this better than most. The company envisaged new ways of improving the client experience around buying, using, and maintaining household appliances, seeking to deepen its relationships with consumers.
Mike Berendsen, Vice President, Global Information Systems at Whirlpool Corporation, explains: “We no longer want to be just a manufacturer of appliances – we want to create a broad ecosystem of connected home devices – such as smart ovens or smart refrigerators – that through data, enable us to build relationships and understand our consumers better so we can improve our products. Our goal is to make their daily lives easier.”
The company’s existing SAP systems ran within Whirlpool Corporation’s on‑premise data center infrastructure that was proving a barrier to expansion of application capabilities.
Unexpected downtime and lack of flexibility threatened to block Whirlpool’s transformation and continued growth.
Mike Berendsen continues: “In order to drive further growth and power the innovation that would help us ensure consumer satisfaction and loyalty, and maintain our established place at the forefront of the global home appliances industry, we set out to overhaul our IT infrastructure and management of our SAP environment, aiming to achieve greater reliability and scalability.”
Ensuring flexibility and availability
To enable manufacturing, supply chain management, logistics and consumer care, Whirlpool Corporation chose to modernize its SAP application landscape, and selected SAP ERP powered by SAP HANA®, SAP® BusinessObjects™ Business Intelligence and SAP Customer Relationship Management applications. Whirlpool chose to move its SAP environments to IBM Power Systems servers in the IBM Cloud and engage IBM Services to run, manage and optimize its SAP deployment. This allows the Whirlpool team to focus their resources on innovation.
Mike Berendsen comments: “We need maximum availability for the four geographies in which we operate, and there aren’t many cloud providers that could entertain hosting SAP environments on Whirlpool’s scale.
“We realized that IBM Cloud and IBM Services for Managed SAP Applications is the perfect solution for our SAP environment because of its reliability and flexibility – which we knew would give us room to grow and provide maximum uptime. With global operations running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it’s vital for us to have maximum availability – and we believed that IBM could provide this.”
“Candidly, with IBM we can more rapidly expand HANA capacity, and we felt that the flexibility of IBM Services for Managed SAP Applications would empower us to enhance our culture of innovation even further.
“With our SAP environment run by IBM, we can take on a lot more as an organization and will be able to scale up capacity as our business continues to grow. This would be almost impossible without a partner like IBM.”
The strong SAP experience within IBM was another key differentiating factor in Whirlpool’s selection of a cloud provider. Whirlpool saw great value in being able to focus more energy on providing new capabilities for consumers.
Mike Berendsen adds: “IBM Services for Managed SAP Applications enables us to free up staff to focus on more value-add tasks and drive the innovation that will make a real difference to our consumers. It’s important for us to stay abreast of the latest SAP developments. The expertise that IBM demonstrated in all things SAP gave us confidence that they would manage our SAP environment as effectively as possible to ensure efficient business processes and help create value throughout the organization.”
Mark Slaga, General Manager, IBM Services for Managed Applications, comments: “The IT industry is moving fast and it’s a lot to keep up with – and that’s where IBM comes in. IBM has had a long and deep partnership with Whirlpool Corporation, and the breadth and depth of our capabilities, as well as our understanding of the business, enable us to add real value to Whirlpool’s operations.”
Mike Berendsen explains: “We take a multi-cloud approach to ensure we are competitive in the marketplace. IBM provides us with excellent support in ensuring our various cloud capabilities are integrated and optimized, to ensure continuity across the business.
“We value the partnership we have with IBM – the team is constantly challenging us to do more with our resources and find innovative ways of working. The involvement of IBM doesn’t end at the data center; they’ve helped us by introducing fresh thinking to a range of operational areas, including supply chain management, facilities maintenance, and bringing new products to market.”
Increasing consumer satisfaction
Today IBM Services for Managed SAP Applications runs the SAP ERP, SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence, and SAP CRM systems that Whirlpool Corporation uses to conduct 80 percent of its critical transactions. By migrating its SAP environment to the IBM Cloud supported by IBM Services for Managed SAP Applications, Whirlpool is also benefiting from the increased scalability and reliability that its cloud-based infrastructure provides.
Mike Berendsen comments: “The flexibility that IBM delivers ensures that we will have plenty of headroom for future growth, with no need for major capital expenditures: when we need more capacity, all we have to do is ask the IBM team, and we only pay for what we use – perfect for a high-data growth business like Whirlpool Corporation.
“The time and cost savings of partnering with IBM Services for Managed SAP Applications has allowed us to significantly increase our customer focus, with initiatives such as rolling out point of sale support systems and deepening our commitment to connected appliances.”
“We’ve also seen major improvements in system availability since migrating our SAP deployment. By reducing downtime, we’ve ensured that we can attend to our consumers whenever they want to engage – and with a global business like ours, that means always!”
To help improve consumer experience, Whirlpool Corporation partnered with IBM Watson® Services to implement an IoT (Internet of Things) solution, using sensors on connected appliances to collect data about how those devices are being used which can be accessed through the IBM Cloud.
This means that Whirlpool’s consumers can activate functionality within the appliances via smart devices, and the company can keep monitoring and improving products even after they’ve been sold. The data shows exactly how consumers are using their machines, and how the machines themselves are responding, making it easier to tailor future designs to consumers’ requirements.
Mark Slaga comments: “Our partnership with Whirlpool has developed to the exciting stage that we’re now looking at how to extend its SAP ERP systems into IoT and even using artificial intelligence capabilities to make better decisions based on the additional data the company is capturing.”
Mike Berendsen concludes: “Working in partnership with IBM to migrate our SAP environment to IBM Services for Managed SAP Applications is a very important step for our business. The expertise of the IBM team in managing our SAP applications and the flexibility and reliability of IBM Services for Managed SAP Applications fill us with confidence that we are ready to deepen relationships with consumers, and are well-placed to meet any other new industry challenges that may arise.”
About Whirlpool Corporation
Whirlpool Corporation is a leading global home appliance company, with approximately USD 21 billion in annual sales, 92,000 employees and 65 manufacturing and technology research centers as of 2018. The company markets Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Maytag, Consul, Brastemp, Amana, Bauknecht, JennAir, Indesit and other major brand names in nearly every country throughout the world.
Take the next step
To learn more about the IBM SAP Alliance, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following websites: ibm.com/sap
To learn more about IBM Services for Managed SAP Applications, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/services/sap/managed