Producers of beer and spirits have a complicated operational layer, with several breweries and distilleries, multiple consumer brands, and a myriad suppliers and distributors. To connect everything, they need a solid IT fabric built with cloud-based applications.

For our client, one of the world’s most prominent distilleries, the question wasn’t whether or not they needed to make their cloud-based applications more resilient in the digital age – it was simply ‘how?’.

Truthfully, the nature and scale of their operations fueled the complexity of their IT. The leading enterprise resource planning (ERP) tool their organization had grown with, while great for ‘business as usual’, was not built to provide the data needed for any kind of real-time intelligence sought by most executive leadership teams today. Senior leaders want more, especially as applications are built to live and thrive on today’s flexible multi-cloud.

ERPs support the overall supply chain process covering manufacturing, logistics, sales and marketing, and they simply need to provide more insights. Below is a list of some of the client’s key challenges with their ERP before working with Cisco:

Monitoring challenges across business journeys on ERP and non-ERP based landscapes.
Incident management in dire need of upgrade to allow for identification of root causes and quick remediation (or even pre-emptive prevention measures).
Time consuming incident response as a result of disparate and decentralized monitoring tools.
Technology stability irrespective of the changes being made to boost digital resiliency in the organization’s cloud-first IT fabric.
Capacity management needed improvement in order to conserve resources deployed to troubleshoot incidents, mitigate IT risks, and reduce costs.

I’m sure that list made many of you nod your heads in agreement, even if you’re not in the same industry. That’s quite natural as the list resonates widely with business leaders, irrespective of size, market, and geography.

For the non-technical folk reading this, an incident on an ERP tool is a cause for concern. By definition, it is a non-standard occurrence in the system that interrupts or reduces the quality of service. Anything from an unexpected alter on the system, incorrect or missing data, or even system performance issues can result in incidents. In the real world, most ERP users face incidents regularly; they interrupt workflows and cost money to fix.

Reducing the occurrence of these incidents and making sure that there’s fewer of them to take care of, is a key goal for businesses aspiring for digital resiliency. Chief metrics they measure are mean time to response (MTTR) and number of resources needed to resolve issues. Our client, given their stature in the market, wanted to go beyond overcoming their key challenges and conquering these metrics.

They wanted to optimize their cloud and digital infrastructure using a platform that offered end to end visibility across their IT and provided automation opportunities. They knew this would transform their applications and make their operations more intelligent.

The ERP wasn’t the problem – but it could become one.

There’s often a false sense of confidence that organizations grow to have because they are using a best of breed ERP tool. There are two problems with that.

First, there’s a significant number of customizations that any organization makes to their ERP when they first deploy it. These changes make upgrades difficult to implement and slowly, causes technical debt to pile up, as the business continues to adapt the ERP tool to its specific needs. Moving this to the cloud isn’t easy, especially without a platform to provide real-time visibility into performance and operations.

The second issue is that the reality of businesses has changed. Leaders have new needs today, which can only be fulfilled when you integrate new solutions into your existing ERP to fundamentally upgrade your IT fabric and prepare it to thrive in the face of everything the market can throw at you. In other words, organizations want to reach a state where they can tap into the data going into their ERP tool across every function in the business and can use intelligence to adjust for variations in real-time.

From an executive leadership point of view, the ERP wasn’t a problem, but it looked like it was about to become one.

Cisco helped prevent that. Our client in the beer and spirits business was able to accelerate its journey to the future-state it imagined by deploying Cisco AppDynamics – an award-winning platform that makes the aches and pains of moving ERP to the cloud disappear, providing visibility, efficiency in operations, and the opportunity to automate, among other things.

The future is intelligent and automated

The narrative popular among technologists today is that the future is intelligent and automated.

Working with each one of our clients, Cisco takes concrete steps to make this a reality in the present day – helping them achieve not just a digitally resilient future-state but also build capacity and create opportunity to harness the capabilities envisioned by technologists.

Cisco’s engineers and leaders involved in helping our client in the beer and spirits business believe that there’s an endless list of possibilities awaiting our client as they expand their definition of digital resiliency in the coming months.

To the client, benefits delivered to them such as the ability to harness data in real-time, defeat technical debt to optimize operations as they moved to the cloud, and bring in transparency through telemetry for better application performance, will have a profound impact on their business today and in the future.

Taking a step back, I believe what the client and our team achieved together was great – and I wonder what they’ll achieve if they continue working together in the future.