Digitizing Business Processes

Mike Kennedy, CIO, Breakthru Beverage Group
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Mike Kennedy, CIO, Breakthru Beverage Group

The beverage wholesale market is constantly evolving and seeking innovative technologies aimed to improve customer service and enhance capabilities. Breakthru Beverage Group (BBG) was formed in early 2016, through a merger between The Charmer Sunbelt Group and Wirtz Beverage Group. Initially, we faced the challenge of integrating two systems and streamlining operations. The merger created a company with more than $6 billion in annual sales that are driven by 7,000 associates across 15 markets in the U.S. and Canada.

When considering the factors that impact our operations, two key areas stand out. The first is the acceleration of the digitization of Breakthru’s operations. In our industry it is crucial that we are able to swiftly respond to customers’ requests, while at the same time, providing our associates with the resources needed to deliver exceptional services to excel in their roles. Client relationships are built and maintained on our ability to swiftly meet and exceed their expectations. That is why we have placed such a high priority on our ability to digitize our business processes. We know we have to stay nimble and always be in a position to implement new processes, adjust existing ones and present a platform for our clients and associates that is up to date, fast and easy to use making us their preferred service provider.

Coinciding with our ability to quickly adapt, is our focus on presenting our clients with a seamless user experience. At Breakthru, we want to ensure the programs we are using can communicate with those being used by our customers. Flaws, glitches and service interruptions slow down business in an industry that cannot afford to lag. This same expectation applies to our associates in the field. People on the sales side of the business need to be able to obtain real-time data at their fingertips to improve service and produce stronger sales numbers. This is especially true for the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry. Frictionless, consumer-facing technology is one of the bedrocks my department relies on to distinguish ourselves in a crowded, competitive marketplace.

  ​We cannot, and will not, rest on our accomplishments, rather we will set new goals and ensure we have the operational capabilities needed to achieve them  

The second key area is enhancing and better understanding data driven analytics. Now, more than ever before, we are merging industry trend and sales data across various third-party platforms, such as Nielsen and social media, into one central information hub. This is certainly easier said than done. As new sources of information become available, as trends change, and as older sources shift their methods, it’s critical that we stay on top of these changes and understand what is the right information to use. Often times, it’s easy to get lost in the endless stream of information and any company that cannot understand how this information fits into the larger playing field is bound to encounter problems.

At Breakthru, we have continued to build our internal team and utilize our extensive industry knowledge to better understand and navigate the wealth of information we receive. With these advancements, we can easily recognize trends and respond to changing market conditions quicker than ever before. This is a trend throughout the CPG industry and one we have wholly embraced at Breakthru because of the enhanced capabilities it allows us to offer our clients. We can help clients and associates make better decisions that, in the end, drives our bottom line. As a result, BBG can provide more value-added consultative services from actions that are derived from our data analytics.

Our goal at Breakthru is to utilize our experience and innovation to become the leading force in the wholesale beverage business. From an information technology standpoint, we aim to continue delivering better value at the lowest possible cost. We want our business to have the tools it needs to make the right investments and to do that, we are constantly looking for more ways to improve our capabilities in support of our customers and our supplier partners that will help us grow and prosper. Due to the pace of change, we have often partnered with the startup community in order to provide relevant and timely solutions across the enterprise. Often times these smaller startups are more agile and provide their services at a lower cost – factors that are important in this industry.

Breakthru Beverage has a strong reputation industry-wide because of the commitment we have to delivering excellent results for our customers and because of our unwillingness to accept anything less than exemplary. We expect to maintain a steadfast focus on improving the innovative technologies, which is exactly what got us to this point in the first place. We cannot, and will not, rest on our accomplishments, rather we will set new goals and ensure we have the operational capabilities needed to achieve them. 

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