Knowledge – Onninen’s core business for the Future

Construction products wholesaler, Onninen, is building improved customer service and more efficient business processes by investing in the quality of its master data. As a truly international business with operations in 9 countries, there are currently nine ways of interpreting and maintaining data. This project will deliver the ability to harmonise and maintain master data globally.

Onninen, and the industry as a whole, has woken up to the importance of master data

The product portfolio of an industrial distribution business runs to hundreds of thousands of products and services. Because of this complexity, wholesalers increasingly need to serve their customers through the provision of more and better information. In turn, customers demand better and more accurate product information, which can be incorporated into their own data systems. Customers need their suppliers to both take more responsibility for the precision of shared product information, and to provide new logistics offerings like, for example, full service equipment maintenance agreements. Data which is up to date minimizes the customer’s need for stock and so frees up cash flow. So the supplier who is able to offer a solid technical solution for all levels in the supply chain will have the best chance of success in the industry.

There are ongoing ERP projects in all links in the supply chain. Data quality has caused problems in many of these projects – and in the wider business environment too. An ERP project is often a trigger for businesses to realize the value, and the critical importance of both master data and data quality. Onninen is no exception. As customers carry out harmonization projects they naturally expect that their suppliers do the same. Equally, competitors follow each other’s actions closely and know that if they want to stay at the top of their business they must invest in building high quality master data.

Data brings additional value to customers throughout the supply chain

Electronic commerce is growing fast across the wholesale industry. Companies are investing in web-based shops, driving ever increasing levels of automation both in sales and purchasing transactions. Accurate, relevant and timely information is crucial to the customers’ decisions at the point of purchase. Poor or confusing information will increase the chances of losing business to a competitor. If, on the other hand, the buyer can immediately access everything he needs – technical data, images, references, pricing and delivery – the purchase decision becomes much easier. This shortens the sales cycle and builds customer loyalty. Onninen understands that data quality is the basis for investment in the new and different sales channels created through the implementation of e-commerce.

Wholesalers must provide real added value for customers in the supply chain. The value proposition of the wholesaler is built on delivering a broad range of products from many different manufacturers, with all the supporting logistics, knowhow and timely availability. Master data management greatly enhances these strengths.

”We sell with the help of information, and in some cases we sell information itself. If we do it better than our competitors, we can expand our product offering to our customers”. Arto Rantakari, Master Data Manager, Onninen

The primary philosophy used in the acquisition and maintenance of data is “Manage by the source” thinking. An interface is provided to the original manufacturers so that they can incorporate their data directly into the Onninen system, thereby ensuring accuracy and currency. This way data is maintained where it is generated, so the more providers who can deliver data directly, the better. All parties in the supply chain reap rewards.

”The traditional division of responsibility in the customer-provider relationship is blurring. Now you have to master the techniques of bringing in data over that interface. The core business of Onninen is becoming data management and logistics”, says Arto Rantakari.

Transparent data delivers accurate management reporting

Internally, reporting is the operational area where the quality of master data has the greatest impact. By making the reporting process more efficient and, in parallel, ensuring the accuracy of data content in reports, a company’s business management reaction time can be dramatically improved.

If all data already exists harmoniously throughout the organization, it is a simple job for reporting to just collect the required information and consolidate the data.
Arto Rantakari crystallizes the idea: “When our company’s performance is measured in different business critical areas (logistics, pricing, stock management), external and internal financial and accounting reports are not enough – we need other views too. And the master data in these reports must be within the control of our administrative systems.”

By taking a pro-active approach to Master Data Management, data comes alive and global transparency throughout a complex business can be achieved.

Up-to-date and globally harmonized Master Data can be used to measure the effectiveness of business activities, and to build tracking systems, for example for cost/supply or sales pricing. Once clear ownership and responsibility for all data is defined, IT can provide solutions which the business owners can use to control data. In the future, tools will become available allowing product managers to manage the business with their own products, built around real-time accurate information.