Paving The Way To Award-Winning Digital Transformation: Q&A With National DCP’s Darrell Riekena

Shelly Dutton

Digital transformation means different things to different companies. For some, it’s about closing the gap between what digital customers expect and what analog businesses deliver. And for others, it’s a way to enhance organizational processes and customer experiences with digital technology. However, is this enough considering Cisco’s prediction that 40% of top businesses may be left wounded – perhaps, mortally – by digital disruption in the next five years?

For National DCP (NDCP), a US$2 billion supply chain management company serving the franchisees of Dunkin’ Donuts, digital transformation is a catalyst for company-wide change as it evolves and positions itself to meet growth objectives. And it looks like this mindset paid off: Its initiative, Project FreshStart, was recently recognized as a top business technology innovator by InformationWeek Elite 100, ranking 28th in the United States and accepting finalist honors in the categories “Collaboration” and “Innovation in Cloud Technology.”

I had the pleasure of talking to Darrell Riekena, CIO and COO of NDCP, to get his advice on leading such significant changes and orchestrating organizational transformation that yields real business outcomes.

It seems like everyone has their own definition of digital transformation. How critical is it to get this definition right?

Riekena: Change is happening at an exponential rate. The business is changing and so is technology – all at a pace that’s almost unimaginable. We all need to challenge our current business model, anticipate future needs, and prepare our companies for the future. This is more than just adaptation. We must prognosticate change and challenge our way of thinking.

Getting the infrastructure and core right from the beginning is critical for increasing speed and agility. If you get these things right, the business can move quickly and add capabilities. For NDCP, our digital transformation touches every aspect of our business. Project FreshStart enables us to provide better service, manage costs, deliver perfect orders, and meet ongoing commitments.

By keeping things simple and implementing quickly, we didn’t take the typical path to refreshing our technology. We acted quickly by ripping and replacing all our systems within an aggressive timeline. We implemented and integrated best-in-class industry systems to establish an enterprise solution; leveraged SAP S/4HANA as our enterprise resource planning system; and turned to Manhattan Associates as our strategic partner to handle our warehouse and transportation needs. More important, we put all of this in the cloud. This approach not only addresses our current business challenges, but it also positions us for future growth and simplifies the implementation of additional features and functionality down the road.

How do you measure success and handle the scale of information your employee have at their disposal?

Riekena: We measure success by looking at our ability to meet or exceed our operating metrics and key performance indicators. We also factor in how we can evolve and metabolize the changes we are making within our business. All of these considerations play a role in positioning us for future growth.

Now that we have laid the foundation for our enterprise digital transformation, we’re excited to use the vast amount of data available to us. It’s now to the point that our entire workforce has a passion for finding ways to apply predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things to our processes and operations.

Are people, processes, and technologies enough to win over increasingly digital customers? What else should businesses do to increase organizational agility and fend off (or capitalize on) new disruptions?

Riekena: Digital technology plays a significant role in how we offer value to our customers. From improving the cost of goods sold and enhancing customer service through reduced call times to easing access to relevant information, we are always looking for innovative ways to create the best end-user experience possible.

By implementing enterprise solutions and services from SAP, Manhattan Associates, Deloitte Consulting, and Verizon, my IT team has shifted away from traditional application development and support and toward business enablement. Providing a ubiquitous enterprise experience for a wide array of end users demands more focus on architecture, integration, as well as system accessibility, availability, and flexibility to meet changing business needs. We’ve built a strong technical team that brings exceptional collaboration skills and deep business acumen to work closely with our external and business partners, get the most out of our technology investments and implementations, and foster behavioral changes required to meet our business objectives.

By moving employees from other departments into IT business analyst and consultant roles, we are benefitting from their understanding of our corporate goals, processes, and challenges and their high aptitude for applying technology. Enlisting the talent and know-how of these change agents and thought leaders in Project FreshStart is the key to our success. And why not? At the end of the day, it’s all about creating the best end-user experience possible.

Hear more about the real-world experiences of C-leaders including Darrell Riekena; Will Whitehead, senior vice president of Operations at NDCP; and Matthias Beiers, vice president of Information Technology at EDF Renewable Energy, to understand how to make digital transformation happen in your enterprise. Watch the replay of the SAPPHIRE NOW panel discussion “Make Live Business Real with C-Suite Collaboration for Digital Transformation.