Digital Transformation

From assessment to transformation: The digital transformation story of an Australian brand distributor


Most success stories of digital transformation often center around digitally mature organizations like Amazon, Apple, or Google. But do these stories ring hollow for early transformative businesses who may be new entrants to the digital space?

The last couple of years and ensuing economic uncertainty has been a lesson in the making for companies that have chosen to put transformation on the back burner. Digital transformation is no longer a nice-to-have – it is a crucial vehicle for growth in this highly volatile market landscape. Not only does it allow businesses to reduce operating costs in the short-term, but also helps them reimagine their competitive advantage and remain agile in the face of disruption in the long-term. This is exactly what a leading food and beverage distributor, chose to do. Renowned for its ability to launch, nurture and develop premium global brands in the unique Australian market, this top distributor kickstarted their transformative journey by exploring how they can strive for complete value chain enhancement, beyond the confines of their existing ERP systems.

What did the digital maturity pulse assessment reveal?

A couple of years ago, the distributor engaged Fortude to conduct a comprehensive data and analytics health check. The assessment brought to light some of the persisting data challenges facing the company. Fortude’s team provided high-level recommendations for their data and analytics strategy. This time around, the company took up Fortude’s complimentary high-level Digital Maturity Pulse Assessment, which aimed to provide the business with a 30,000-feet view of its digital landscape. The assessment brought to light several challenges echoing through their operations, pointed to critical areas that warrant immediate attention, and presented opportunities for improvement. These challenges ranged from process complexities, lack of process and data visibility, repetitive manual work to inefficient data management, which were impacting the company’s operational efficiency and overall performance. The assessment also highlighted the need for the organization to develop a comprehensive understanding of its cybersecurity capabilities, an aspect that had not been thoroughly tested previously.

  • The distributor managed diverse relationships with its brand partners and customers, each with distinct requirements, adding layers of complexity to their operations. Lack of visibility to the status of processes and siloed processes meant that significant and duplicated reconciliation efforts were required from different departments. The finance department, in particular, faced challenges in invoice management, with a lack of visibility on invoices needing payment and excessive manual work for coding invoices and credit set off. The three-way match process (between purchase orders, goods received, and invoices) was not working as expected, requiring significant effort from both the finance and supply chain teams. Logistics reporting and integration with external transport providers also needed improvement.

  • The assessment also unearthed the hurdles the company faced in effectively leveraging its data for decision-making, including outdated tools, siloed analytics, and decentralized reporting. All of this hindered the distributor’s ability to access real-time insights and make decisions. The use of outdated tools like Cognos Cubes, ClickView, and Excel for analytics, along with decentralized and siloed analytics, lead to data discrepancies and non-standardized reports. Combining data from multiple sources was time-consuming, and infrequent data refreshes meant the company was unable to effectively analyze profitability, customer satisfaction, make informed decisions, and optimize cost-to-serve metrics.

  • The absence of defined processes and standard operating procedures also led to inconsistencies, so the team often found themselves relying heavily on individual knowledge, rather than structured workflows. There were no clear workflows and SOPs to ensure efficiency, accountability, and knowledge transfer within the organization.

What would a digital maturity pulse assessment look like in reality?

In response to these challenges, our strategic focus revolved around targeted improvements. Exploring integrated approaches is paramount to streamline collaboration in managing diverse relationships, reducing complexity. Transparency enhancements, along with optimized reconciliation processes, are key to addressing the lack of visibility and duplicated efforts. Strategic investments in modern technologies and integrated solutions will help overcome hurdles in data utilization, promoting real-time insights and more informed decision-making. Simultaneously, initiatives to establish well-defined processes and standard operating procedures will help eliminate inconsistencies and enhance overall operational efficiency.

As the scope and time available for analysis during this complementary Pulse Assessment was limited, a more detailed digital maturity assessment was conducted to dive deep into 140+ capabilities defined in Fortude’s digital maturity model. This is expected to further refine these insights and pave the way for a more comprehensive solution proposal.

Fortude’s digital advisory team identified and prioritized focus areas based on business criticality. The team provided both short-term tactical recommendations and long-term strategic recommendations, along with a high-level timeline and dependencies. These transformation recommendations were assigned into work packages for systematic execution emphasizing the priority and rationale. Recognizing the requirement for budgeting to support the IT funding decisions, high-level estimations for the proposed potential work packages over a two-year period were also indicated. The focus was on providing the customer with a comprehensive picture to facilitate decision-making.

This included an integrations strategy, a customer strategy, a data and analytics strategy, standard operating procedures for process improvement, business continuity and disaster recovery planning, customer experience and portal strategy, integration standardization and platforming, discovery workshop plan for ERP optimization along with the plan for migrating to the multi-tenant cloud edition, and a discovery workshop plan for the recommended automations.

Why the digital maturity pulse assessment matters?

The purpose of Fortude’s Digital Maturity Pulse Assessment with its limited scope, is to act as an eye opener to bring immediate focus to assess and establish the way forward. It starts with a fact-finding consultation to understand the organization’s goals, challenges, and unique requirements. This step is crucial to tailor the assessment to the specific context of the customer. Therefore, with its tailored focus on the identified customer pain points, the assessment provides a high-level view of the company’s digital maturity, targeting the most essential areas for its transformational readiness.

Fortude’s Digital Maturity Model aims to conquer a holistic view of the organization, evaluating the digital landscape of the customer across dimensions including their customer, strategy, technology, operations, people and organization and data. The maturity level for each dimension was defined based on observations. The assessment was not just about the technology ecosystem – it is a full look at the goals of the business and a review of the technology ecosystem to ensure that it was capable of supporting the realization of these goals.


Beyond analysis: Delivering quantifiable, transformative change for your business

For many customers, measuring the return on their digital investments poses an undeniable challenge in the investment decision. Digital transformation doesn’t fit the mold of traditional investments where success is immediately evident. Pinpointing the return on investment (ROI) for digital transformation projects isn’t always straightforward—those benefits aren’t always immediately flashy or easily quantifiable. They often extend beyond mere financial metrics, it can influence areas such as improved customer experiences, enhanced employee productivity, and increased business agility. This ambiguity tends to raise questions and makes stakeholders somewhat cautious about venturing into future digital initiatives, putting a brake on overall progress.

Fortude addresses this ambiguity by providing business cases for priority work packages, offering a transparent quantification of benefits through cost-benefit analysis based on actual organizational data. By aligning our strategic initiatives with the company’s overarching vision, communicating anticipated wins, assessing the value from retiring legacy systems, as well as the benefit to business users from different departments, we are able to help leadership foster a culture that supports the company’s ongoing transformation efforts with compelling use cases and a conservatively calculated ROI.

In addition to fostering a culture that supports ongoing transformation efforts, Fortude’s Digital Advisory team also provides support related to comparing product proposals. During the product evaluation process, we take a backseat and let customers independently choose the product that is most suitable for them. A tailored request for proposals and a comparison model, based on business user requirements, ensure critical functionalities are provided for a like-for-like comparison of products.

Connect with Fortude’s Digital Advisory team to understand how you can get started on your complimentary digital maturity pulse assessment today:

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