I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Chris Green (CG), Global Marketing Manager at Columbus IT to talk about Columbus IT's drive towards a more industry-focused strategy and some of the marketing initiatives to support that. Here is a summary of our conversation.
LS: Chris tell us a little bit more about CIT and some of the competencies that your company boasts?
CG: Hi Luke. Columbus IT is a Microsoft Gold Partner specializing in ERP and CRM. We have over 1100 employees with more than 40 offices across the world. This makes us one of the largest global Microsoft Dynamics-partners and one of the most qualified to handle international Microsoft Dynamics implementations. Along with this we are very focused on a small number of key industries where we have great expertise and we develop industry solutions. Along with ERP and CRM we also have competencies in BI, Portals and other technologies to ensure we can offer a best practice business solution. Columbus IT also owns To Increase one of the leading industry focused Microsoft Dynamics ISV's. Tied into our industry expertise is our focus on the delivery approach and methodology. This is something we see as a key differentiator.
LS: Which industries do you specifically focus on?
CG: Our three key strategic verticals are Discrete Manufacturing, Food Manufacturing and Retail. We have competency centres for each vertical where we develop our industry solution sets. These are a blend of industry focused best practice, industry focused software through To Increase and Microsoft Dynamics. We are AMR industry certified for each of these three verticals.
LS: Now F&B manufacturing is one of the verticals that you focus on. Tell us some more about what CIT can offer F&B beverage manufacturers?
CG: As I mentioned earlier we have set up a specific food and beverage competency centre containing experts from the industry where we have developed some key offerings:
- Additional software functionality that addresses unique F&B requirements, built on top of standard AX 2012 functionality
- Integration with applications that address unique F&B requirements, such as Nutritional Analysis and related labels
- Consulting tools that simplify and shorten the AX implementation process within F&B firms
- A global standard for the AX implementation process (termed Sure-Step +) for all Columbus IT personnel, which is especially helpful for larger F&B firms implementing AX in multiple countries.
LS: You have a campaign coming up focused on this space – can you tell us a little bit more about it?
CG: We are very fortunate at Columbus IT to have such a depth in expertise in the Food and Beverage space. Three key members of the team Scott Hamilton, Gilbert Garcia and John Petersen all have extensive knowledge around the food industry and around ERP technologies. To take advantage of this great knowledge we have written three guides to help Food and Beverage companies around the specific needs of the industries. We have also interviewed 6 of our customers to get their input on these topics and we have also had great input from you. The guides look at improving operational efficiency and supply chain collaboration, business visibility and performance, and quality control and food safety. These guides will be available in early July. You can also send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a copy.
LS: What do you see as some of the key opportunities and challenges for F&B manufacturers looking into the future?
CG: A key challenge for many F&B firms has been – and continues to be — the effective implementation and use of an ERP system to run the business. In many cases, the existing ERP system constrains the firm's ability to dynamically respond to change such as different business practices, new requirements for food safety, and innovative applications of information technology. At Columbus IT, we have specialised in the F&B industry requirements as well as the solutions to these requirements, so that we can assist firms to meet these challenges.
LS: You also recently released a benchmarking tool together with leading industry analysts Aberdeen Group – how can companies use this tool and what benefit can they get from it?
CG: This is a tool that is developed by the Aberdeen Group focusing on helping Discrete Manufacturers around operational excellence. The tool is online and asks you a number of questions about your own business. Your answers are then benchmarked against the "best in class" manufacturers that have been identified through the hundreds of interviews that Aberdeen has carried out. The great thing about the tool is that you get an instantly downloadable personalised report looking at the specific areas that your business should focus on to improve operational efficiencies. And it is totally free. You find the tool at www.columbusit.com/aberdeen
Are you a Microsoft Dynamics ERP partner with an interesting story to tell or best practices to share? If so we would love to hear from you!!
Sr. Industry Marketing Manager