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IT Is Essential To Implement Strategy

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Anton Langeler | IT Director | O'Neill Europe

The challenge of O'Neill Europe is that we have 34 countries in O'Neill Europe. We have four owned-and-operated, and the other 30 are independent. [The challenge is], if we said, in our strategic plan, we will grow 20 percent per year. And then it's a nice question from IT: “OK, where do you want to grow?” “I would like to grow in new stores.” Then my question is, “How many stores do you have?” Then there is a problem for the O'Neill Europe organization because they have no visibility. We have only 34 countries. We have only 34 in the visibility. We have no visibility [into] how many customers—or retailers—are in the country. How can I get that information from all the different countries? If you look, for example, to Greece, the language is not clear. I get a list, in multiple different formats, from all the countries. I pull things together. Then I ask O'Neill Europe, “Can you have an overall classification about your stores?” Now that was not easy. But the challenge is, again, if you have a classification, how do you translate this classification to every country? That is not easy. How can I get at the information, and then make it visible with pictures? How [can I] make it visible with turnover and make it visible with competitor analysis? Again, we exceeded the expectations. Based on that, I gave that back to my BI department, and my BI department made very good reporting on that, first, for the advantages, and also the improvements for the country; but second, for the global management at O'Neill Europe. Based on that, we had the best visibility. If there is a strategy of the company, try as IT, as CIO, to translate that strategy: what is my action on that? What can I deliver to support and execute the strategy? At the time that I started at O'Neill, I read all the plans of marketing, sales, procurement, supply chain, logistics, from finance, from legal, and I made a top 20 list of all the big issues. I can tell you, in every plan there was, “IT cannot deliver that; we don’t have a good forecasting system; we have no visibility.” I made this top list available, and then the challenge starts. We said, there are no problems. We can solve everything. Why? We are the master of the data.

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