Murat Ozkan joined international beverages company Anadolu Efes in 2019 after almost 30 years in various roles in IT, starting as a system analyst and more recently including stints in CIO and other leadership positions. His responsibilities range from managing the business application landscape to overseeing the whole IT infrastructure. From its base in Istanbul, Anadolu Efes has grown and is operating multiple sites, including in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Georgia.
In this Q&A, Ozkan chats with CIO Middle East about how he is building a data management strategy around analytics and AI — more specifically machine learning — in order to take advantage of growth opportunities.
CIO Middle East: Why did Anadolu Efes decide to begin its digital transformation journey? Could you explain to us some examples of technologies you implemented?
Having joined Anadolu Efes payroll, I did come up with a set of initiatives to prepare Anadolu Efes for the next digital era and kicked off a vast technology program including some projects in several domains to renovate the existing complex and outdated foundations to establish a strong digital core for future-readiness, also to harmonize business processes, unify master data and standardize technology components, make the organization more resilient and sustainable considering the digital disruptions and technological advancements and become more community and cloud-friendly to increase IT agility.
The establishment of a data-driven organization including data management, analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data visualization etc., involves implementing a set of business solutions utilizing Cloudera big data platform, Azure cognitive services, [cloud-based conversational AI service] Luis chatbot, Microsoft Power BI tool and IBM SPSS & DataStage (ETL) solutions.
We also have our project ‘White Rabbit’, which consists of the automation of manual repetitive and value-added tasks utilizing (UI Path) software robots. Employees save their time for creating brand-new business opportunities and service developments.
One more example of a successful project is the one named ‘Logos’. Basically, we built a simple, agile and integrated infrastructure and security to maximize application efficiency and user satisfaction for value creation and competitive advantages. Logos has a set of initiatives such as VMware NSX, Azure and IBM (public) cloud services, a data loss prevention solution, the MS Teams collaboration tool, privileged access management, etc.
CIO Middle East: What are some of the goals that Anadolu Efes has achieved by going through this digital transformation process? How do you define your digital starting point and which steps are important for a brewery organization to achieve digital growth?
I strongly believe that digital transformation should have several aspects, e.g., technology, business, finance, culture etc. So, to succeed in a decent transformation, all the aspects must be evaluated and handled in a close manner. Or else, the outputs will not create the desired gains or enhancements. We have already experienced many improvements, changes and gains by implementing business processes restructuring, democratization of the data and conversion of routine tasks into software robots — lots of benefits help us to increase our competitiveness in the new world and its conditions. Some of the benefits/gains might be enumerated as:
CIO Middle East: Can you give us an insight to your vision of what a digitized organization is? What technologies are you using in order to have a digitized organization and what are your concerns for supporting agility and resilience?
So, a new vision was born and owned by managers at all levels: ‘Build a world-class digital beer company across all business units and strategic business partners’. Later on, we did kick-off a digital transformation program called “Anadolu Efes Digital EXcellence Journey” (DEX) with the participation of the leadership team and business functions such as HR, Logistics, Finance, Manufacturing, Legal, etc.
We created and enriched our DEX team with participants from several departments over the whole organization. Although this team takes the responsibility to build the digital future, they need close and strong support from all members of this organization. As being small parts of a whole, we’re ready together to spend our energy, to share our passion & love, to eliminate the barriers and to build the dream future, ‘All for one, one for all’. Our digital transformation has been started from Turkey and now spreading to all the other offices we’re operating around the world. There is no doubt, this would fire the competition in the market and strengthen our position. Our digital transformation is more than a technology upgrade, it mostly involves cultural transformation or change in way of working etc. That’s why communication plays a vital role in achieving our goals.
CIO Middle East: What could be the next steps of the digitization we will see in 2022?
Companies are using new technologies, such as the Internet of Things [IoT], advanced robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data & analytics, 5G cell processing, cloud platforms and edge computing to enhance customer and partner experiences to drive new efficiencies. Using these technologies, we must deliver tailored and sustainable services (and products) to leverage our ecosystem and solidify opportunities.
CIO Middle East: As an executive, how can you summarize your digital expectations within a few sentences ?
I remember, the first time I talked with my colleagues in Anadolu Efes, I remarked with a few assertive words on the digital journey waiting for us: “Friends, take your positions and fasten your seat belts: We will take our place among the digital stars — stars that sparkle with a combination of imagination & technology beautifying the digital experiences.”
I’d like to share another motto; “If not now, then when: Let’s plan, launch and grow — embrace the digital era together.”