For almost 100 years, Colombina has served consumers across Colombia with candies, chocolates and baked goods. The company’s commitment to product quality and changing with the times has seen it grow into one of the region’s leading fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies, with a large portfolio of popular brands.
One key growth segment for Colombina is the health-conscious consumer, and the company has recently launched a new, all-natural brand called “Colombina 100%” to cater to these customers. Colombina knew that smaller, independent retailers would be a highly effective way to reach this emerging segment. However, breaking through with its new product line in the highly competitive FMCG market required innovative thinking.
Colombina, one of Colombia’s leading manufacturers of candies, chocolates and baked goods, goes to market through retailers across the country— including smaller, independent stores. The company saw a valuable opportunity to build its new, all-natural “Colombina 100%” brand through this channel, but it understood that smaller stores often lacked the capability to analyze customer buying trends and find the perfect quantity, assortment and promotions to maximize sales.
To build its brands, Colombina aimed to empower smaller retailers to find the best recipe for sales growth. Laying the digital foundation to solve these tough analytics challenges, the company moved its mission-critical business systems to SAP S/4HANA running on IBM Power Systems servers. Using SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) for SAP Applications as its operating system for vital SAP solutions, Colombina powers 24/7 availability, which has contributed to an 8% increase in revenues. Now, with a modern data center primed for growth, the company is prepared for next-generation analytics capabilities in the future.
Helping smaller retailers boost sales
Armed with a clear understanding of its target resellers, Colombina understood that smaller retailers typically lack product-moving capabilities, such as: identifying top-selling products; determining optimal product assortments; and rapidly placing orders to ensure high-demand items never sell out.
Colombina believed that if it could deliver these capabilities with an empowered field sales force, smaller retailers would be able to move more product. In turn, Colombina sales would increase, and its brand recognition would grow—especially for the new, all-natural Colombina 100% label.
Building on a trusted platform
For many years, Colombina has trusted its SAP business systems to integrate its operations from the factory floor to the store shelf. To build on its success with SAP solutions, the company decided to harness the platform to deliver advanced analytics for its field sales teams.
Jesus Antonio Brand, CIO at Colombina, explains: “We knew that delivering these analytics capabilities to our retail partners would place enormous demands on our existing SAP business systems. To prepare for the future, we decided to augment our platform by moving to a next-generation ERP: SAP S/4HANA.”
“In total, we estimate that we have shrunk the cost of business and operations analysis and reporting by as much as 10%. Even though our new analytics capabilities are not yet live, we’ve measured an 8% uptick in our revenue, thanks in large part to the faster access to business insights we’re gaining through SAP S/4HANA on SUSE Linux Enterprise.”
Targeting maximum availability
Transitioning to SAP S/4HANA promised to create a solid foundation for complex and computationally demanding analytics workloads. To achieve a smooth migration to the new solutions—and to ensure ongoing, 24/7 availability—the company decided to deploy SAP S/4HANA on IBM Power Systems servers running the SLES for SAP Applications operating system.
“If our SAP solutions were to go offline unexpectedly, all of our operations could grind to a halt,” says Brand. “To avoid this unacceptable risk to our business, we looked for a server platform that could keep our mission-critical systems available around the clock—and that’s exactly what the combination of SLES for SAP Applications and IBM Power Systems delivers.”
With SUSE Linux Enterprise Live Patching, IBM can deploy SAP S/4HANA updates that impact the Linux kernel without the need to take critical systems offline during patching. Additionally, the SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability Extension helps keep Colombina’s business systems online 24/7—ensuring production lines and delivery trucks roll day and night, and that stores across the country are always stocked with Colombina candies, chocolates and baked goods.
Achieving a smooth migration
With the IBM Rapid Move for SAP S/4HANA offering, IBM helped Colombina to streamline its move from SAP ERP to SAP S/4HANA by using proven, automated tools to avoid multiple iterations of data migrations and SAP solution integrations. As a result, the company was able to switch over to SAP S/4HANA within a planned downtime window of just four days, helping it achieve its goal of a nondisruptive migration.
Brand confirms, “We had already been using the IBM Power Systems platform for several years before our recent engagement with IBM, so we knew that they would deliver on our demanding operational requirements. Today, the combination of IBM Power Systems servers and the SLES for SAP Applications operating system give us great confidence that we have the reliability, availability and scalability to support our analytics workloads now and for years to come.”
Targeting cloud capabilities
After laying the digital foundation for advanced analytics by deploying SAP S/4HANA, Colombina is preparing to integrate the new platforms with digital capabilities from the SAP Cloud Platform.
The total solution will involve SAP Commerce Cloud, SAP Marketing Cloud and SAP Analytics Cloud—enabling Colombina’s field sales teams to access accurate transaction data direct from retail stores, and then dive into that data to uncover opportunities to build sales-driving assortments and promotions.
Realizing the benefits
While this next stage of the journey is just getting started, Colombina has already achieved substantial benefits from moving to SAP S/4HANA, running on IBM Power Systems servers with SLES for SAP Applications.
Enhanced database compression in SAP S/4HANA has shrunk Colombina’s database from 22 TB to 5.8 TB, helping to contain storage costs. For the business, new ways of working have slashed the time to generate invoicing reports by 97%, and the time to produce plant planning and management reports by a factor of 12.
“Today, we’re saving significant time for employees in important back-office roles, liberating them to focus on value-added work,” comments Brand. “In total, we estimate that we have shrunk the cost of business and operations analysis and reporting by as much as 10%. Even though our new analytics capabilities are not yet live, we’ve measured an 8% uptick in our revenue, thanks in large part to the faster access to business insights we’re gaining through SAP S/4HANA on SUSE Linux Enterprise.”
Poised for business growth
As it continues to develop its retail analytics capabilities, Colombina is confident that it will soon be able to put valuable insights right at its sales team’s fingertips— empowering them to supercharge Colombina’s growth in the ultracompetitive FMCG space.
“By moving to SAP S/4HANA on the robust, cost-effective and highly scalable SUSE platform, we will soon gain the ability to optimize inventories across hundreds of retail stores,” concludes Brand. “We are delighted with what we have achieved so far and look forward to harnessing data to bring our brands to more customers all across Colombia.”