Sysco Taps SAP For BI, CRM

The company aims to transform its business intelligence, customer relationship management, Web presence, and back office efforts using SAP technology.

Ivan Schneider, Contributor

May 6, 2010

3 Min Read

Sysco, the largest foodservice supplier in North America, has selected SAP Business Suite and SAP BusinessObjects business intelligence as the IT foundation for a business transformation project slated for initial rollout in 2011 and staged deployment through 2013.

“We’re starting to pilot some of the customer-facing applications, and in particular, an improved ordering platform for our customers,” said Mark Palmer, vice president of corporate communication, Sysco, in an interview. “So far, we’re very happy with what we’re seeing.”

Sysco aims to unify business processes across its operating companies and 186 distribution centers while addressing specific business needs in the wholesale foodservice industry. By doing so, the company intends to boost efficiency, improve sales and marketing execution, and increase transparency through better data management.

"This is more than an IT project -- it is truly a business transformation," said Jim Hope, executive vice president, Business Transformation, Sysco, in a press release. "Using the power of SAP as the foundation for our transformation, Sysco intends to improve productivity, retain and expand business with existing customers, and understand where market opportunities lie so we can do a better job attracting and pursuing new business."

In a December 2009 Sysco investor presentation, Sysco’s Hope described the various facets of the projected changes, including an enhanced customer experience, segmented customer service models, a rich-functionality Web interface, a consolidated back office for shared services, and improved data management. Highlights include:

Customer Interactions: Customer contact teams will be created to maximize sales opportunities and the customer experience for existing customers, drawing upon customer information, including sales transactions, preferences and order history, from the SAP CRM application. Marketing associates, currently the primary point of customer interaction, will be able to shift their focus to new business opportunities.

Customer Orders: An improved Web site will provide customers with a complete order management system while bolstering sales capabilities with personalized recommendations and detailed information about nutrition, similar products, recipes and videos.

Shared Services: A consolidated back-office facility in Houston will house Sysco Business Services, a shared services operation including all major business areas, including sales, finance, procurement, supply chain, maintenance, earnings optimization and human resources.

Data Management: SAP BusinessObjects business intelligence solutions will provide Sysco managers with detailed information on trends including customer share-of-wallet, margins, profitability and productivity, enabling easier data analysis. Reporting will also be standardized across the company.

“It’s a highly organized project plan, and their executives are deeply committed to its success,” said Karen S. Lynch, vice president of the global wholesale distribution industry business unit at SAP Labs, in an interview. “The key to this, as well as to any other SAP implementation, is executive commitment.”

"We have a tremendous opportunity to use technology to continue to sharpen our operations," said Twila Day, senior vice president and chief information officer, Sysco, in the press release. "SAP is the best technology provider to help us with our plans to integrate all of our software needs into a single platform, giving us the visibility required to efficiently manage our business end-to-end."

"SAP is committed to helping Sysco make its business transformation project a success," said Verlin Youd, senior vice president, Global Trading Industries, SAP, in the press release. "By replacing its stand-alone systems with a single, integrated suite of solutions based on SAP Business Suite, Sysco will get a clear view into information across its business units, supporting continued growth and making it easier for customers and suppliers to do business with the company."

Sysco, based in Houston, Tex., sells, markets, and distributes food products to restaurants, healthcare, and educational facilities, hotels and other customers that prepare meals outside the home; and also sells equipment and supplies to the foodservice and hospitality industries. The company has 47,000 employees, serves more than 400,000 customers, and had sales of $37 billion in FY2009.

SAP, based in Walldorf, Germany, provides enterprise resource planning, business intelligence, and related applications to more than 97,000 customers in more than 25 industries in over 120 countries.

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