AB InBev’s Disruptive Growth Organization lives in the 10 percent of the 70/20/10 formula. As the company looks for new ways to evolve it will need to leverage technology smartly. This means implementing everything from automation to analytics to blockchain and even driverless cars. The team at AB InBev created a heatmap to keep track of where each new idea is in the development process so that it can ensure that innovations are truly ready for prime time before rolling them out to the global organization.
In one pilot project, the international logistics team worked through how to manage global production and shipping using distributed ledger, or blockchain, technology. Through the project, AB InBev was able to regionalize its operations, cutting down on import/export through differing and complex jurisdictions. The company’s headquarters in Belgium oversees the six regions and ensures that processes are running smoothly. By regionalizing, the company was able to do more effective benchmarking and identify areas for improvement. AB InBev also realized cost and time efficiencies through regionalization, which cut down on product waste. Now when new brands or new markets come online, they are incorporated into their respective region, allowing them to join the network in a faster and more consistent way.
Blockchain- backed regionalization also helped the company to enhance information sharing and deal with its myriad SKUs, labels and bottles across global brands. As Siqueira observed about their global operations, “the amount of information that we need to share, and the amount of people that need to connect with that same information, that’s what drove us to pilot blockchain.” Blockchain, or distributed ledger technology, allows for organizations to enter and verify information worldwide on a secure network. However, first the company had to centralize its paperwork, so that all of the necessary information was flowing to and from countries of origin, suppliers, carriers, customs at the receiving country and others, as appropriate. Blockchain has made that documentation much easier and quicker. In the first year their measure for compliance when a container arrived in a new country was below 70%, and last year they closed at 98%.
In addition to improving coordination, AB InBev has made great strides in strategically streamlining their processes. On the surface, a Corona bottle in Mexico may look the same as one in Helsinki, but each country has certain requirements about information that should be on labels, as well as materials that are used for bottling. Before the streamlining process that meant a bottle of Corona had hundreds of labels and SKUs to track, each with only slightly altered information in order to meet global regulatory requirements. The team set about finding commonalities and was eventually able to create a package of ten labels and SKUs that were regionalized and still compliant. Regionalization extended into the documents required for shipping - bills of lading - making it less likely that shipments would be held at borders because they were missing small bits of information as a result of human error and complexity. Brewers and Bottlers in the pilot were able to realize production efficiencies immediately and the system was soon rolled out to the whole organization.