Coke bottler turns to advisory panel for SAP mobile direction

The nation’s largest Coke bottler is developing and refining its mobile strategy with new initiatives, from a mobile advisory board to a program it says identifies “mobile moments.”

One prominent Coca-Cola bottler is using an enterprise mobility advisory group to guide the SAP processes it wants to mobilize as it formulates its SAP mobile strategy.

The Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated (CCBCC), located in Charlotte, N.C., is the nation’s largest bottler of Coca-Cola and other Coke-owned beverages, spanning 11 states and five production facilities. The company uses SAP mobile technology across processes ranging from production to sales.

The advisory group -- similar to a center of excellence -- helps the bottler make better decisions around how to use mobility now and in the future, according to Paris Fogle, the company’s senior systems specialist.

“It’s a cross-functional group with a strong focus on governance,” Fogle said.

The group was created in late 2009 and includes individuals with strengths in networking, mobile programming and user experience, training and adoption, plus one person who manages the business and configuration analysts, Fogle said.  

Someone from the company’s IT help desk also attends, he added.

“One thing that we really try to focus on is to try and make sure that our help desk is up to speed,” Fogle said. “We’ve really found that there’s nothing more frustrating from an end-user perspective if you pick up the phone to call your help desk and they have no idea what you’re talking about.” 

During the meeting, members share their respective mobility projects.

"[It’s to make sure] we’re all on the same page and that we’re not all running off in a lot of different directions at the same time.  As fast as mobility is moving, it’s really easy to do that,” Fogle said.

The other benefit is that other people champion the company’s evolving SAP mobile vision, he said. “Your developer goes out, and he’s talking with his peers, he’s helping spread that vision, too, to kind of plant that seed.”

SAP mobile moments

The company has an informal program it calls “mobile moments” in which executives who oversee the company’s mobile operations follow field representatives to determine what daily tasks need to be mobilized, according to Fogle.

The program is part of a “user first” attitude that focuses on mobilizing specific processes, rather than a “build it first” mentality that tends to focus more on technology. CCBCC execs recently went out with a cross section of sales reps, he said.   

“Because what we’ve seen is just because we’ve got the same exact technology, a lot of times people use them in different ways, and they do things in different ways, even though it’s the same job,” Fogle said.

Fogle said that on a recent outing one of the reps identified a piece of equipment -- a cooler, located at the customer’s business -- that wasn’t functioning correctly.  In the current system, the representative or the customer has to take down the asset number and make a call to the department that handles equipment repairs.  A better idea, he said, would be posting a bar code on the equipment, which anyone with a mobile device could scan to report the issue.

“Don’t even make it dependent on the salesman himself. A security guard that’s doing rounds could just scan a machine … and then in the background, the process would generate some sort of notification in SAP, which would automatically get sent to a dispatcher, which would go to a technician,” Fogle said.  “You’d save all kinds of time at that point.”  

Go for the low-hanging fruit, but also think long term

The key to a successful SAP mobile strategy is to keep things simple, according to Onyeka Nchege, the company’s chief information officer.

“We’ve tended to move away from these big, large, mobility projects that take months,” Nchege said.  “The question for me is … what are the things that we can enable for you sooner, rather than later, so that you can begin to derive value? Let’s try to mobilize that as quickly as possible,” he added.  

But that also means trying to make those deployments part of an overall mobile strategy and that isn’t easy, he said.  

“If you are an on-premise account rep, talking to a restaurant owner, who do you need to call on?” Nchege said. “I can call on a whole CRM suite to make that happen, or I can truly understand what it is that you truly need to get your business done [right now], and figure out how to mobilize it. At the same time, we can’t lose sight of [what] a CRM solution provides to the organization.” 

The question then, he said, requires striking a delicate balance. “How do [you] get some of these things done quickly at the same time [while] keeping in mind what we need from a holistic perspective for the organization?” 

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