SAP, Coca-Cola pact keeps data in perfect harmony

Calling it one of the most significant technology projects in the consumer space, SAP's logistics expert Franz Joseph Schoppengerd asserts that a new partnership with Coca-Cola could change the way the food and beverage industry does business. Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. last month announced a multiyear deal with SAP to connect information gathered by delivery drivers in the field with the massive beverage company's SAP R/3 Enterprise software. Coca-Cola plans to develop a system over the next two years, one that will revolve around SAP's core enterprise resource planning (ERP) product, as well as its NetWeaver integration middleware, to enable mobile connectivity. In an interview with SearchSAP.com, Schoppengerd, vice president of direct store delivery processes at SAP, said the project will be watched closely by direct-store delivery companies around the globe, mostly those in the food and beverage industry. Applications developed with Coca-Cola could be available to customers within the next several years, he said.

Will this information be given to managers in real time? Delivering the information in real time is a cost issue.

We would have to equip all the trucks with mobile phones and direct communication devices. The way we planned the process is to start with giving each driver an independent mobile device from the distribution center, and then the information gathered by that driver remains independent until the truck comes back. The cost for communication may change in [the] future, and we will have information flows also during the tour.


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What kind of information will you be collecting from vending machines?
One of the very exciting things will be that we will have is communication with vending machines.
Franz Joseph Schoppengerd
vice president of direct store delivery processes SAP
We will be developing a completely integrated ERP fulfillment solution. From a sales perspective, it provides an understanding of what's selling through what vending machines at what rate, taking into account various promotions in the store and at other locations, in addition to seasonality. The software enables the driver and back office to assess the fill rates and sales, and to determine what locations are better than others. For example, machines placed in large retail shopping grocery outlets might not sell as well when people can walk down the aisle and grab a 12-pack. On the other hand, data might indicate that putting a machine in the workplace, such as a blue-collar environment, might produce higher fill rates and profit. Which specific applications will be brought about by this project?
One of the very exciting things will be that we will have is communication with vending machines. The delivery driver that goes to the vending machine will read data out of the vending machine, and at a later date it will be used for forecasting products, for defining the product mix in the vending machine or even to calculate price and prevent delivery interruptions. This can significantly reduce the cost of servicing vending machines. There will also be 30,000 truck drivers who will be connected to comprehensive information on their mobile devices. They will have a user interface which is geared toward their needs. How will this project change Coca Cola's delivery processes?
There are two things here which are in focus -- how can we get more information about the customer, and how can we offer better services for better customer loyalty? The business is labor intensive, and if you can increase delivery efficiency for the truck driver and get more information out of the transactions taking place, then it's an area for significant growth and cost reduction -- without having an extraordinary growth in their head count.

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