Tetra Pak: Master Data Is A Corporate Asset

Nilly Essaides

In 2014, Jeff DeWolf of Tetra Pak put master data management (MDM) near the top of management’s priority list by treating it as a corporate asset. As the company’s director of global master data strategy, he framed master data within a strong business context. At the same time, he launched a data rejuvenation effort that completely overhauled the giant Swiss packaging company’s MDM model.

Tetra Pak already had a high level of maturity in its management of master data. It has an enterprise-level model and a single ERP instance. But the company was beginning to add new applications that had their own embedded data. Implementations were handled by a small group of individuals. Ownership was incomplete and scattered. Metrics varied. This led, for example, to problems with spare parts pricing, which in turn caused customers to complain. “The problem was we were not treating master data with respect,” DeWolf said.

The right framing

Between 2005 and 2013, the company had made many improvements by focusing on master data management rather than maintenance. But this was not enough to take the next giant leap forward. To do this, DeWolf changed the context of the program by framing it as a business imperative. “When I addressed the C-suite, I didn’t talk to them in terms of data, but in terms of customer realities,” said Dewolf.

For example, when the company developed a new product, it moved it to the ERP environment once it became commercially viable. Initially, there weren’t good checks and balances governing the use of data between the development and commercial environments. The item might have appeared to salespeople as available at a certain price. They would then proceed to quote the price to customers. But parts still in the design phase were constantly updated, leading to pricing changes.

“The result was that customers would keep getting new price confirmations in their inboxes, which customer representatives had to explain. In this case, the lack of clear data governance rules affected the end customer. We were exposing the customer to our own inefficiency,” DeWolf summed up. That got top management attention.

The three objectives

To put MDM back on the map, DeWolf set out three objectives:

  1. Automate the MDM workflow
  2. Remodel the MDM organization
  3. Change the kind of metrics used to measure the quality of the data

His first step was to transition the four master data domains (vendors, finance, customers, and materials) to a single system. To make this happen, he chose master data governance software—an off-the-shelf solution that allows users to centrally create, change, and distribute master data across the organization.

Next he turned to the way the group was organized. Prior to 2013, master data management was distributed among many regional master data teams. He wanted to centralize the expertise in a center of excellence (CoE) and chose Panama for its location, because Tetra Pak already had a global business services (GBS) operation there with some MDM staff. And there were several more in nearby Colombia who were willing to move. He ended up with 20 MDM experts (down from 50) who could work with global process owners around the world.

He says the role of the CoE will evolve overtime. Ultimately, he expects it to become a professional problem-solving operation. “The objective is to find areas of improvements, make suggestions, and feed them to the global process teams,” he notes. “We expect to have 70% of all manual MDM-related work automated by the end of this year.”

The COE has already made a huge impact. It reduced the number of MDM workflows by more than 85 percent, to just 400. Previously, each site had its own change-approval process. While some variations were minor, in the aggregate, the process was so unwieldy that it couldn’t be managed on a global level.

The next step is to reduce the 400 remaining workflows to four. Each will be supported by business logic that will allow customization within a context of standardization that would facilitate global process management.

The CoE is also going to be charged with very little data maintenance and focus more on proactively monitoring data quality and proposing solutions. That’s a role that didn’t exist before. The CoE staff will initiate cleanups based on materiality thresholds. It will then target areas with a potentially significant impact on the business, instead of waiting for problems to pop up.

Finally, DeWolf and his team of MDM experts are working on creating value metrics to replace traditional data-quality measures. For example, one metric DeWolf would like to introduce is linking data about the bills of materials accuracy to data about open sales orders. The idea is to measure the value (in terms of pending sales) that is at risk due to incorrect data. Erroneous bills of materials with open sales orders represent potential missed revenue. The idea here is to use business context to focus on what yields tangible business benefit. This is a non-traditional approach to master data quality.

There is an additional benefit to using value metrics: By translating data fields into value drivers, the MDM team moves the conversation with the business into a language that makes sense to them. If additional resources are needed to stop putting shipments at risk, this is a conversation that suddenly becomes possible.

Next steps

Next on DeWolf’s agenda is master data governance. Right now, the process owners are also the governors of the data, but they don’t have the time to do it. He wants to give the process and organizational structure time to settle in before assembling a data governance council. That piece will happen in 2018-2019. At the same time, Tetra Pak is already pulling in new kinds of data as part of other big data projects, creating data lakes (big reservoirs of varied data types) and considering the possibility of eventually selling data.

Another future goal is to extend the MDM model to other data areas where DeWolf feels the company could benefit, like people, brand, and category data.

DeWolf feels strongly that the project will retain its momentum because it continues to have strong support from Tetra Pak’s senior leadership. “Senior management may not understand the details, but they certainly understand the importance of MDM, and I can get an audience when I need it.” An important factor in maintaining that strong support is presentation style. “Speak with a focus on customer accounts,” DeWolf advises.

For more on how data management can benefit your business, see How To Use The Right Data At The Right Time For Better Customer Relationships.


Nilly Essaides

About Nilly Essaides

Nilly Essaides is senior research director, Finance & EPM Advisory Practice at The Hackett Group. Nilly is a thought leader and frequent speaker and meeting facilitator at industry events, the author of multiple in-depth guides on financial planning & analysis topics, as well as monthly articles and numerous blogs. She was formerly director and practice lead of Financial Planning & Analysis at the Association for Financial Professionals, and managing director at the NeuGroup, where she co-led the company’s successful peer group business. Nilly also co-authored a book about knowledge management and how to transfer best practices with the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC).

What To Do With All Of The IoT Sensor Data Your Business Is Collecting

Susan Galer

From life-saving supplies to take-out pizza, IoT-powered services can deliver incredible monitoring capabilities to businesses and their customers, tracking products in transit, as well as driver behavior. I recently saw a demonstration of how sensor-based navigation can disrupt business and industries using IoT-based services operating anywhere – within vast warehouses, across oceans, and on streets, trains, and planes.

Designed as a game on the show floor at the SAP TechEd event, developers were challenged to “drive” a miniature, sensor-tagged vehicle through a maze as fast as possible without bumping into the sides of the enclosure. The challenge was created to mirror the obstacles companies face competing in a hyper-connected world, and Joe Binkley, senior director, SAP Cloud Platform Marketing, gave me the inside story during our interview.

“This is a fun way for us to demonstrate a serious business problem. If your business is delivering precious goods, whether it’s fine china or schoolchildren on a school bus, having the ability to monitor the process by which they travel to their destination is huge,” said Binkley. “In our challenge, the vehicle is a lot more fun to drive than a school bus or a delivery van, but the premise is the same. Companies can use technologies like robotics and IoT to change business processes and digitally transform their business.”

Tracking smartens business

During the event, a scoreboard displayed data uploaded from the sensors on the vehicle as it traveled through the maze, including how many times the delivery vehicles bumped against the walls of the maze, and how long it took to reach the finish line. This is the kind of tracking businesses can use every day.

“In the real world, a business would have a scoreboard monitoring their van or business drivers, collecting and acting on data showing whether the goods are at the right temperature or in the right places as scheduled,” said Binkley. “Sensors could also monitor if a driver was fatigued or the vehicle was in danger of breaking down, sending alerts to take steps that would prevent problems.” He added that the vehicle was built using the SAP Cloud Platform service, Rapid-Application Development by Mendix (RAD), part of SAP’s growing set of IoT-based services.

Industry estimates predict billions of IoT-based sensors will surround us by 2020. Making business sense of all that data is the next challenge.

Learn more about How Sensors Will Redefine Business and Our World.

This story also appeared on the SAP Community.


How Executives Can Leverage Data Analytics To Enhance Performance

JP George

The falling cost and growing sophistication of data analysis methods have allowed even new startups and small businesses to enjoy the benefits of superior insight and enhanced understanding. Data analytics is a powerful tool that has the potential to enhance efficiency, improve customer relationships, and help businesses identify and resolve potential issues more easily. Learning about the latest tools and analysis methods ensures that the latest resources and solutions are less likely to go overlooked.

Assessing and improving operational processes

More effective ways to assess and measure key aspects of operation and workflow can allow organizations to dramatically improve efficiency and performance. Data analysis software, services, and solutions can provide enhanced insight and greater understanding about almost all aspects of day-to-day operations.

Being able to set and establish more effective benchmarks or to assess and compare prospective changes prior to implementation may create numerous opportunities for improvement and refinement. From a top-down assessment to real-time reports, analytics can play a key role in optimizing operational efficiency.

Enhancing customer relationships

Cultivating a larger customer base or being able to meet the needs of both existing and future clients are issues that no business can afford to discount. There are numerous ways that data analytics can help improve customer relationships and boost client satisfaction, from creating detailed profiles that can help businesses better anticipate the needs of different types of customers to offering the ability to analyze customer account information to determine underlying patterns of behavior. Understanding their clientele ensures that businesses are better able to cultivate and maintain the positive relationships that lead to greater long-term success.

Identifying opportunities for improvement

A lack of insight often makes it impossible to discover underlying issues and situations that can drain overall performance. Data analytics make it easier to monitor various aspects of operation and assess efficiency and performance levels in real time.

Identifying any aspects of operation that require attention or greater speed, ease, and accuracy is always a top concern. Businesses that fail to identify and fix potential issues and concerns find that improving performance or optimizing efficiency can be an uphill battle.

Utilizing the best resources

From software applications to third-party service providers, seeking out the latest tools and the best selection of resources makes it easier to enjoy the full range of benefits made possible with statistical and real-time analytics. Falling prices for data analysis tools means that even smaller businesses and organizations with limited budgets may be able to find and acquire the resources they need.

Whether it’s seeking out the services and assistance that a professional analysis provider or firm is able to offer or utilizing digital applications in order to shed light on various aspects of their options, businesses would do well to seek out the best resources and solutions.

Future trends in Big Data

There are many current and future trends that businesses would be wise to keep an eye on. Big Data is fast becoming an indispensable resource, one that few businesses can afford to be without. Current industry trends, such as workplace automation that provides greater volumes of data and information for analysis, and software resources that make it easier to generate reports or assess past records, mean that today’s businesses can expect to see much more data analytics in the days to come. Keeping pace with emerging technologies and making an effort to learn more about any tools and resources that may soon become available can provide businesses with a real advantage in their efforts to enhance performance.

For more insight on the power of analytics, see What Can Your Data Do For You?


JP George

About JP George

JP George grew up in a small town in Washington. After receiving a Master's degree in Public Relations, JP has worked in a variety of positions, from agencies to corporations all across the globe. Experience has made JP an expert in topics relating to leadership, talent management, and organizational business.

Diving Deep Into Digital Experiences

Kai Goerlich


Google Cardboard VR goggles cost US$8
By 2019, immersive solutions
will be adopted in 20% of enterprise businesses
By 2025, the market for immersive hardware and software technology could be $182 billion
In 2017, Lowe’s launched
Holoroom How To VR DIY clinics

Link to Sources

From Dipping a Toe to Fully Immersed

The first wave of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is here,

using smartphones, glasses, and goggles to place us in the middle of 360-degree digital environments or overlay digital artifacts on the physical world. Prototypes, pilot projects, and first movers have already emerged:

  • Guiding warehouse pickers, cargo loaders, and truck drivers with AR
  • Overlaying constantly updated blueprints, measurements, and other construction data on building sites in real time with AR
  • Building 3D machine prototypes in VR for virtual testing and maintenance planning
  • Exhibiting new appliances and fixtures in a VR mockup of the customer’s home
  • Teaching medicine with AR tools that overlay diagnostics and instructions on patients’ bodies

A Vast Sea of Possibilities

Immersive technologies leapt forward in spring 2017 with the introduction of three new products:

  • Nvidia’s Project Holodeck, which generates shared photorealistic VR environments
  • A cloud-based platform for industrial AR from Lenovo New Vision AR and Wikitude
  • A workspace and headset from Meta that lets users use their hands to interact with AR artifacts

The Truly Digital Workplace

New immersive experiences won’t simply be new tools for existing tasks. They promise to create entirely new ways of working.

VR avatars that look and sound like their owners will soon be able to meet in realistic virtual meeting spaces without requiring users to leave their desks or even their homes. With enough computing power and a smart-enough AI, we could soon let VR avatars act as our proxies while we’re doing other things—and (theoretically) do it well enough that no one can tell the difference.

We’ll need a way to signal when an avatar is being human driven in real time, when it’s on autopilot, and when it’s owned by a bot.

What Is Immersion?

A completely immersive experience that’s indistinguishable from real life is impossible given the current constraints on power, throughput, and battery life.

To make current digital experiences more convincing, we’ll need interactive sensors in objects and materials, more powerful infrastructure to create realistic images, and smarter interfaces to interpret and interact with data.

When everything around us is intelligent and interactive, every environment could have an AR overlay or VR presence, with use cases ranging from gaming to firefighting.

We could see a backlash touting the superiority of the unmediated physical world—but multisensory immersive experiences that we can navigate in 360-degree space will change what we consider “real.”

Download the executive brief Diving Deep Into Digital Experiences.

Read the full article Swimming in the Immersive Digital Experience.


Kai Goerlich

About Kai Goerlich

Kai Goerlich is the Chief Futurist at SAP Innovation Center network His specialties include Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Foresight, Trends, Futuring and ideation. Share your thoughts with Kai on Twitter @KaiGoe.heif Futu


Blockchain: Much Ado About Nothing? How Very Wrong!

Juergen Roehricht

Let me start with a quote from McKinsey, that in my view hits the nail right on the head:

“No matter what the context, there’s a strong possibility that blockchain will affect your business. The very big question is when.”

Now, in the industries that I cover in my role as general manager and innovation lead for travel and transportation/cargo, engineering, construction and operations, professional services, and media, I engage with many different digital leaders on a regular basis. We are having visionary conversations about the impact of digital technologies and digital transformation on business models and business processes and the way companies address them. Many topics are at different stages of the hype cycle, but the one that definitely stands out is blockchain as a new enabling technology in the enterprise space.

Just a few weeks ago, a customer said to me: “My board is all about blockchain, but I don’t get what the excitement is about – isn’t this just about Bitcoin and a cryptocurrency?”

I can totally understand his confusion. I’ve been talking to many blockchain experts who know that it will have a big impact on many industries and the related business communities. But even they are uncertain about the where, how, and when, and about the strategy on how to deal with it. The reason is that we often look at it from a technology point of view. This is a common mistake, as the starting point should be the business problem and the business issue or process that you want to solve or create.

In my many interactions with Torsten Zube, vice president and blockchain lead at the SAP Innovation Center Network (ICN) in Potsdam, Germany, he has made it very clear that it’s mandatory to “start by identifying the real business problem and then … figure out how blockchain can add value.” This is the right approach.

What we really need to do is provide guidance for our customers to enable them to bring this into the context of their business in order to understand and define valuable use cases for blockchain. We need to use design thinking or other creative strategies to identify the relevant fields for a particular company. We must work with our customers and review their processes and business models to determine which key blockchain aspects, such as provenance and trust, are crucial elements in their industry. This way, we can identify use cases in which blockchain will benefit their business and make their company more successful.

My highly regarded colleague Ulrich Scholl, who is responsible for externalizing the latest industry innovations, especially blockchain, in our SAP Industries organization, recently said: “These kinds of use cases are often not evident, as blockchain capabilities sometimes provide minor but crucial elements when used in combination with other enabling technologies such as IoT and machine learning.” In one recent and very interesting customer case from the autonomous province of South Tyrol, Italy, blockchain was one of various cloud platform services required to make this scenario happen.

How to identify “blockchainable” processes and business topics (value drivers)

To understand the true value and impact of blockchain, we need to keep in mind that a verified transaction can involve any kind of digital asset such as cryptocurrency, contracts, and records (for instance, assets can be tangible equipment or digital media). While blockchain can be used for many different scenarios, some don’t need blockchain technology because they could be handled by a simple ledger, managed and owned by the company, or have such a large volume of data that a distributed ledger cannot support it. Blockchain would not the right solution for these scenarios.

Here are some common factors that can help identify potential blockchain use cases:

  • Multiparty collaboration: Are many different parties, and not just one, involved in the process or scenario, but one party dominates everything? For example, a company with many parties in the ecosystem that are all connected to it but not in a network or more decentralized structure.
  • Process optimization: Will blockchain massively improve a process that today is performed manually, involves multiple parties, needs to be digitized, and is very cumbersome to manage or be part of?
  • Transparency and auditability: Is it important to offer each party transparency (e.g., on the origin, delivery, geolocation, and hand-overs) and auditable steps? (e.g., How can I be sure that the wine in my bottle really is from Bordeaux?)
  • Risk and fraud minimization: Does it help (or is there a need) to minimize risk and fraud for each party, or at least for most of them in the chain? (e.g., A company might want to know if its goods have suffered any shocks in transit or whether the predefined route was not followed.)

Connecting blockchain with the Internet of Things

This is where blockchain’s value can be increased and automated. Just think about a blockchain that is not just maintained or simply added by a human, but automatically acquires different signals from sensors, such as geolocation, temperature, shock, usage hours, alerts, etc. One that knows when a payment or any kind of money transfer has been made, a delivery has been received or arrived at its destination, or a digital asset has been downloaded from the Internet. The relevant automated actions or signals are then recorded in the distributed ledger/blockchain.

Of course, given the massive amount of data that is created by those sensors, automated signals, and data streams, it is imperative that only the very few pieces of data coming from a signal that are relevant for a specific business process or transaction be stored in a blockchain. By recording non-relevant data in a blockchain, we would soon hit data size and performance issues.

Ideas to ignite thinking in specific industries

  • The digital, “blockchained” physical asset (asset lifecycle management): No matter whether you build, use, or maintain an asset, such as a machine, a piece of equipment, a turbine, or a whole aircraft, a blockchain transaction (genesis block) can be created when the asset is created. The blockchain will contain all the contracts and information for the asset as a whole and its parts. In this scenario, an entry is made in the blockchain every time an asset is: sold; maintained by the producer or owner’s maintenance team; audited by a third-party auditor; has malfunctioning parts; sends or receives information from sensors; meets specific thresholds; has spare parts built in; requires a change to the purpose or the capability of the assets due to age or usage duration; receives (or doesn’t receive) payments; etc.
  • The delivery chain, bill of lading: In today’s world, shipping freight from A to B involves lots of manual steps. For example, a carrier receives a booking from a shipper or forwarder, confirms it, and, before the document cut-off time, receives the shipping instructions describing the content and how the master bill of lading should be created. The carrier creates the original bill of lading and hands it over to the ordering party (the current owner of the cargo). Today, that original paper-based bill of lading is required for the freight (the container) to be picked up at the destination (the port of discharge). Imagine if we could do this as a blockchain transaction and by forwarding a PDF by email. There would be one transaction at the beginning, when the shipping carrier creates the bill of lading. Then there would be look-ups, e.g., by the import and release processing clerk of the shipper at the port of discharge and the new owner of the cargo at the destination. Then another transaction could document that the container had been handed over.

The future

I personally believe in the massive transformative power of blockchain, even though we are just at the very beginning. This transformation will be achieved by looking at larger networks with many participants that all have a nearly equal part in a process. Today, many blockchain ideas still have a more centralistic approach, in which one company has a more prominent role than the (many) others and often is “managing” this blockchain/distributed ledger-supported process/approach.

But think about the delivery scenario today, where goods are shipped from one door or company to another door or company, across many parties in the delivery chain: from the shipper/producer via the third-party logistics service provider and/or freight forwarder; to the companies doing the actual transport, like vessels, trucks, aircraft, trains, cars, ferries, and so on; to the final destination/receiver. And all of this happens across many countries, many borders, many handovers, customs, etc., and involves a lot of paperwork, across all constituents.

“Blockchaining” this will be truly transformational. But it will need all constituents in the process or network to participate, even if they have different interests, and to agree on basic principles and an approach.

As Torsten Zube put it, I am not a “blockchain extremist” nor a denier that believes this is just a hype, but a realist open to embracing a new technology in order to change our processes for our collective benefit.

Turn insight into action, make better decisions, and transform your business. Learn how.


Juergen Roehricht

About Juergen Roehricht

Juergen Roehricht is General Manager of Services Industries and Innovation Lead of the Middle and Eastern Europe region for SAP. The industries he covers include travel and transportation; professional services; media; and engineering, construction and operations. Besides managing the business in those segments, Juergen is focused on supporting innovation and digital transformation strategies of SAP customers. With more than 20 years of experience in IT, he stays up to date on the leading edge of innovation, pioneering and bringing new technologies to market and providing thought leadership. He has published several articles and books, including Collaborative Business and The Multi-Channel Company.