Using data to accelerate time to business value


Accelerating business value and digital transformation with data

Last year, European organizations spent $300 billion on digital transformation, according to IDC. Yet, only one in four businesses is realizing an appropriate return on investment (ROI) from it.

Emerging from a pandemic that’s disrupted the entire global economy—and with new, agile competitors cropping up at a rapid rate—it’s become even more important to see business value from your digital investments and to achieve the transformation your business needs effectively and quickly. Fail to do so, and the consequences are high. But the question is, how do you do it?

I recently caught up with Christian Niederhagemann, group CIO at GEA, to explore some of the challenges his company has overcome to achieve digital transformation at scale.

Driving holistic change

 Düsseldorf-based GEA is one of the world’s largest systems suppliers for the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical sectors, with more than 250 subsidiary organizations. Employing more than 18,000, the publicly listed group generated revenue of more than EUR 4.6 billion in fiscal year 2020.

Over the past few years, in an effort to conserve ROI, GEA has undergone a huge effort to bring order to a very complex, heterogeneous, and somewhat old-fashioned IT landscape.

The secret to success has been GEA’s willingness to drive change across the whole business—from employees all the way up to senior management. “This comprehensive buy-in is a fundamental requirement in ensuring that any new process or IT solution is properly introduced and used,” Niederhagemann says.

"Thanks to ServiceNow, we've combined countless complex business processes into one single, simple workflow." Christian Niederhagemann, group CIO, GEA


Consolidated data drives results

Beyond buy-in, Niederhagemann attributes GEA’s achievement to a laser-focused, three-pronged approach to its various IT systems:

  • Consolidation
  • Standardization
  • Automation

That process started in 2016 with a harmonization of disparate IT systems, for which GEA turned to the Microsoft Azure platform. The business successfully disbanded its on-premises data centers and migrated 4,000 servers—around 95% of its computing power—to the cloud.

GEA also expanded its service portfolio with a range of cloud-based services from ServiceNow. Five hundred business processes were totally reconfigured, turning a siloed business structure with five separate product divisions and countless sales regions into one cohesive organization.

The move saw finance, human resources, and IT capabilities all shift to the Now Platform, achieving seamless collaboration with existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems—and offering users one unified look and feel across all business processes.

“Thanks to ServiceNow, we’ve combined countless complex business processes into one single, simple workflow,” Niederhagemann says. “With access to more comprehensive data, we’ve been able to gain a deeper insight into our organization, and to better combat inefficiencies that arise. As a result, we’re now able to significantly reduce the workload of the entire organization.”

The future of work with ServiceNow

The past year has shown us that no challenge is insurmountable. “Change can only be driven when a scalable strategy is firmly bound to concrete goals. All stakeholders need to be agreed, all employees need to be brought along on the journey, and transparency must be achieved for the end user,” Niederhagemann notes.

That’s exactly what ServiceNow enables. Our workflow technologies help businesses like GEA better meet the challenges of both today and tomorrow.

Watch our webinar on Unlocking value on your digital transformation journey.

ServiceNow, the ServiceNow logo, Now, and other ServiceNow marks are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of ServiceNow, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. Other company names, product names, and logos may be trademarks of the respective companies with which they are associated.

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