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Modern technologies like the Cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and the Internet of Things (IoT) are driving exponential growth across industries today. Companies across the spectrum are steadily embracing these innovations to resolve both routine and specific technological challenges, and in the process, modernize their core business operations.

The Food and Beverage industry in particular has been in focus since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandated compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Columbus recently hosted the Food, Beverage & Process Virtual Summit 2020 to highlight how to go beyond industry-specific ERP solutions and what can be done to extend and enhance existing technology solutions and capabilities. Michael Simms, Practice Director - Data and Analytics at Columbus, illustrated both points during his session about how organic food pioneer, Amy’s Kitchen, partnered with Columbus on its Data Journey and crafted a digital strategy capable of delivering a superlative customer experience.

Amy’s Kitchen – An introduction

Amy’s Kitchen is a privately held, family-owned food manufacturing business that processes organic and non-GMO convenience and frozen foods. Headquartered in California’s Petaluma, the organic food manufacturer has processing plants in Santa Rosa, Pocatello, Idaho and Oregon. A fifth processing plant is under construction in Goshen, New York.

Key challenges

Amy’s Kitchen wanted to leverage the advanced business insights AI, ML and business intelligence (BI) are capable of providing to build a data-driven organizational culture. In doing so, it found itself face-to-face with several challenges, key among them being promoting business insights and self-service analytics due to:

  • Lack of overall visibility: With data stored in multiple locations, it was difficult to get a holistic view of all business activities
  • Numerous data sources: Managing data that was saved at various on-premise locations and cloud applications was a challenge
  • Role-based access to data: To prevent misuse of data, it was crucial to give users access to the right data they need to do their jobs

Digital Transformation in phases:

Amy’s Kitchen’s digital transformation was majorly focused on improving its supply chain processes and to resolve the many data- and analytics-related issues it was facing, adopting digital transformation in phases was the most suitable way forward. The organic food major commenced its journey with Columbus in Q3 of 2019 to transform their mostly Microsoft Excel-driven data flow. After approving the Proof of Concept (POC) given by Columbus, Amy’s Kitchen embarked on their data journey in the following phases:

Phase 1: Kicked off on May 18 this year, the first phase consisted of envisioning sessions in which the Columbus team understood the key components and data flows of the business. The team also learned in detail about the client’s requirements and vision for digital transformation. In the process, Columbus team members had the opportunity to showcase the solution’s capabilities and how it could benefit the client’s business.

*This phase did not include any live data.

Phase 2: Started on July 28 and involved:

  • Technical envisioning sessions
  • Ascertaining the architecture
  • Building the operational data store (ODS)
  • Defining SMA requirements
  • Creating technical solution design
  • Analyzing data sources — Oracle, Dynamics, Intellex, Alti-Pro, Excel, MES and others

Phase 3 and 4: The later phases will involve defining the data model, identifying the data elements required to support the new models, and supporting these models at all levels of the organization. Both phases will witness a review of BI resources, gathering of technical resources, and the determination of comprehensive data resources. The Columbus team will examine current data transformations, reporting used for decision making (to build appropriate data definitions through metadata mapping) and follow these up with identifying the right level of granularity for the different levels of the organization.

In his talk, Michael delved in detail into the critical need for digital strategy, the evolution of the data journey, the elements involved, the process, adoption schedule, and much more. The final section of the presentation, especially, was key in which he gave a demonstration of the application.

Watch our on-demand recording of the summit to view Michael's presentation.

Watch ColumbusFood Summit Recording


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