Mobile Technology Makes Beer Taste Better - InformationWeek

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08:51 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren

Mobile Technology Makes Beer Taste Better

There's something to be said for a pint of your favorite brew. Nothing comes as close to refreshing the soul sometimes as a beer. Heineken's distributors in Ireland work hard to make sure every sip of Heineken you take while on the Emerald Isle tastes as fresh as possible. Here's how mobile technology makes it happen.

There's something to be said for a pint of your favorite brew. Nothing comes as close to refreshing the soul sometimes as a beer. Heineken's distributors in Ireland work hard to make sure every sip of Heineken you take while on the Emerald Isle tastes as fresh as possible. Here's how mobile technology makes it happen.Part of making beer taste good is to ensure that the lines it travels through between the keg and the tap are clean. Heineken Ireland, which is responsible for Heineken and its sister brands, schedules 24,000 line cleans every month at the 8,000 pubs, hotels and restaurants that serve Heineken. These line cleaning services are delivered by 77 engineers. Coordinating all those line cleanings takes some serious work.

"We've had all our admin, planned maintenance (line cleanings), logging of callouts, installations and withdrawals on Siebel since 2002," said Martin Gowran, IT product manager for Heineken Ireland. "But the link to the engineers in the field was by post or phone. This was an inefficient process which relied on a large amount of re-keying of documents in to Siebel and lots of management of post for planned work and phoning engineers for unplanned work. It was also more error prone, as information had to pass through more than one person before reaching the system.

Heineken Ireland's IT knew this was not the most efficient way to get things done. The IT team identified the opportunity to streamline the process as they were aware that the technology existed to automate the transfer of information to and from the service engineers. A business case was identified and a package selection process was undertaken to find the most appropriate solution. "The package selection process identified Antenna Software as the best option," said Gowran. "This was for three main reasons: proven integration to Siebel, good customer references, and value for money. No other providers had similar."

Though it faced some difficulties associated with the time difference between the U.S. (Antenna is located on the East Cost) and Ireland, most of the rollout was painless.

"We adopted a very slow rollout process to help with the change management," said Gowran. "A group of users (2 per region, 5 regions in total) were identified as pilot users. They used BlackBerry devices for a period of 8 months, initially just using them for e-mail and intranet and then using the first version of the system when it became available. They helped us identify issues and improve the system before it was rolled out nationally. All users had a period of 1-2 months introduction to the BlackBerry as an e-mail and intranet device before having the application introduced to them. All training was carried out by internal resources and training was usually given to just 2 people at a time."

Mobilization of the Siebel system has enabled Heineken Ireland to reduce reporting cycles from a minimum of 7 days down to 24 hours. Engineers have given the project a positive reception because it allows them to use the Antenna/Siebel interface to close off jobs via their BlackBerry after every customer visit, so reporting work can be completed by engineers themselves during working hours, rather than as an additional paperwork task completed at the end of every day or week. Publicans have also welcomed the new mobile service because it enables Draught Service Representatives to communicate with them to let them know when they will be calling, ensuring that scheduled cleans can be conveniently timed.

As a result, Heineken Ireland's line cleaning process is now paperless, which Gowran labels "a major benefit." All transactions are sent/received wirelessly between the Antenna system and Siebel. Managers also have access to information much faster. Thirdly, the process of administrators keying information into Siebel has stopped.

So, in the end, the combination of Antenna and Siebel software with BlackBerry hardware has made for easier and more efficient cleaning of all the beer lines, resulting in better tasting Heineken in Ireland. Not a bad day's work.

Time for a pint.

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