"This wasn’t supposed to be a tech project. We were a beer company and we thought we just needed a quick fix. Now we also consider ourselves a tech company."
Tassilo Festetics, Global Vice President of Solutions at AB InBev
Known for brewing beer and building brands, Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) grew rapidly through acquisitions. As a result, by 2013 there were many disparate systems used for similar needs across different business units. The Global Vice President of Solutions envisioned more standardization and optimization by establishing an enterprise-wide abstraction layer that consisted of an application programming interface catalog (API) for more effective integration between different systems
AB InBev is a global enterprise; therefore, the issues they experienced were multiplied across business units and geographical zones. The company needed to migrate to digital technologies but struggled getting started. Had they not taken the opportunity to align efforts and systems, this issue would have a negative impact on operations and communications, reducing performance.
EastBanc Technologies identified the elements of the challenge, including:
- A need for deep technical expertise across all business units
- Organizational silos resulting in low communication flow
- Lack of API strategy
- Multiple stakeholders with differing opinions on how to handle the existing challenges
- Stakeholders entrenched in their legacy solutions
AB InBev needed a solution that everyone would buy in to. EastBanc Technologies conducted multiple interviews with different stakeholder groups to collect and formalize the requirements. The results informed the requirements for an API strategy that would meet company-wide needs. Armed with criteria, we analyzed the top API Management Systems on the market to determine the best fit to meet the needs for all business units and technical challenges.
Our approach with AB InBev was unique in that it pulled together the requirements and considerations from multiple stakeholders for a strategy tailored to their business model. In our recommendations to AB InBev’s technology leadership, we also suggested establishing an API Center of Excellence to involve all stakeholders in decision-making and developing cross-functional teams.
“The foundations and framework we established will continue to transform AB InBev over the next 10-15 years as we establish this new platform that sits on top of our various legacy systems. It totally changed the way we think, plan for, and build platforms,” reflected Tassilo Festetics.
"Once you start change, it can ripple through an organization"
Wolf Ruzicka, EastBanc Technologies Chairman
AB InBev understood the importance of digital transformation for the future of its business. When they decided to internalize some of their resources, they struggled with legacy platforms that were too deep and trying to satisfy too many stakeholders.
Our API Program roadmap provided an implementation plan of an enterprise-wide API Management Platform, as well as the process of management and governance. We identified MS Azure API Management as the standard solution that would meet the most needs across their global business units. A Center of Excellence and Innovation would also facilitate the API culture within the enterprise and help establish best practices for API development and management, and a project implementation plan to get the company well on its way.
“We felt really confident about the set of solutions that EastBanc Technologies recommended for us. We have worked with big consultants. But they don’t have the necessary specialized and deep expertise for this type of problem. We needed specialists,” said AB InBev’s Tassilo Festetics.
Ultimately the company made several forward-looking steps as a result of the work performed by EastBanc Technologies.
- They established an innovation lab to research the impact of digital technologies on the future of the company
- They implemented new processes for IT development with dedicated teams to work on specific parts of each integration project
- They fundamentally shifted to building with a mindset of “How will this fit into our API strategy?”
- They shared that culture-changing mindset with their business units, to create a new sense of connection to each other and shared objectives
As a result of EastBanc Technologies early involvement, AB InBev was better poised to use technology and data to meet their changing business and market requirements. They shared that while they had always run thousands of promotions each year, they weren’t really sure how effective they all were. Until they were able to extract that specific sales data, they couldn’t do promo testing. The API integration gave them new visibility into these efforts and a significant jump in margins. Other key results include:
- Creating a connected enterprise through simplification and standardization of the IT infrastructure and effective utilization of the enterprise data and services
- Enabling and streamlining innovations
- Increased operational efficiency
- Reuse of IT assets
- Better access to data in all areas of the business
- Transformation to a technology-driven company
“EastBanc Technologies was different from the big consultant firms we had worked with in the past,” said Tassilo Festetics. “They gave us specialists who really brought the brain power. I would have hired every EastBanc Tech expert we worked with if I could - they were that good.”