A review limited to the year that has passed does not do justice to the digital developments that have taken place within Axel Johnson International according to Mårten Steen, Chief Information Officer. “In the last two years, the group has taken a giant digital leap forward,” he says.
Essential success factors include the early adoption of Microsoft 365 and the build-up of the central support organisation, which offers local IT support in eight European countries. Today, more than 60 percent of the IT staff work outside Sweden to efficiently support central and local functions.
“This has increased our capability of working across borders and companies digitally and sustainably,” says Mårten.
During 2021, the group’s newly established IT hub in Barcelona has grown from two employees to seven, strengthening the core competencies. “The new set-up with a skilled IT team in Spain has been very successful,” he says.
Accelerated digital adoption
To accelerate digital adoption at all levels, staff members need to know how to utilise and benefit from available digital tools. Several educational programmes are available, ranging from the Microsoft 365 toolbox to cyber security awareness training.
“Most innovation takes place in our companies,” Mårten says. “From an IT point of view, we want to inspire by showing the possibilities that digital tools offer.”
Another focus area is further implementation of the integration platform called AxBus. The platform unlocks and integrates data in our businesses and between systems, enabling an efficient use of information in and across business groups through Application programming interface (API) technology.
“Great ideas can be scaled up and benefit other companies in our group. The AxBus originated from a need in one company and is now of great value for many of our companies working with e-commerce.”
By utilising centrally developed cloud-based data warehouse, the group’s companies gain access to a consolidated view of their enterprise resource planning (ERP) in Power BI for operational efficiency and analysis within sales, purchase & logistics and finance.
“Besides being efficient,” Mårten explains, “this data-driven way of working enables our companies to move from descriptive to predictive analysis and, in future, to utilize AI and machine learning technologies.”
“We have some pilots coming up in 2022 that we hope will inspire others in the group to follow,” he says. “Showing the benefits is generally the best way to drive digitalisation.”