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„We’ve been benefi ting from the huge advantage of having variable, on-demand SAP resources when we need them, with genuine 100 percent scalability, for seven years.”
Stefanie Kemp, CIO Vorwerk

„A joint learning curve“

Vorwerk CIO Stefanie Kemp on potential savings in the cloud and being a Dynamic Services pioneer.
Stefanie Kemp
Ms. Kemp, Vorwerk is known around the world for carpets and carpet-cleaning products, kitchen and household appliances, financial services and internationally successful cosmetics products. How does your IT manage to deal with such a wide range of businesses?
All the divisions determine their own strategic approach. And from the holding company, we try to take a commodity approach to our IT – as far as possible. For us, it’s crucial that our architecture is clear, that we set standards with our governance and corporate guidelines, and achieve the greatest common benefit.
The new flagship store in Hamburg is an example of your new sales channels. What future challenges will brick-and-mortar stores and online business pose for your IT?
Everything we do in our multi-channel strategy, like shop-in-shop systems or the flagship store, is intended to support person-to-person direct sales. Because that is still our most powerful sales tool. That means our independent consultants participate in all sales in the other channels, and that increases the interfaces with our IT – think commission.
Your IT is designed to help drive Vorwerk’s internationalization and offer innovative services.
At the same time, CIOs are being asked to tighten the purse strings. How do you juggle these competing demands?
No matter whether it’s a crisis or a boom year, we try to keep the IT budget as steady as possible. That gives us a bit in reserve to invest in innovations wherever we can see there’s a strong business case. When we save money through process optimization somewhere in our IT landscape, that doesn’t mean our budget shrinks. Instead, we invest the money elsewhere, directed by the question: are we driving the right value-add?
There are also potential savings in the consolidation of IT. What are your plans?
We constantly keep an eye on what new services the cloud has to offer us. Collaboration, working from home, always-on – these are trends that at first glance seem to cost a lot of money, but they have a lot of potential.At the moment we are working on a typical job: migrating a legacy SAP system to a new architecture, the Vorwerk Integrated Architecture (VIA), part standard and part in-house development. This is currently our key consolidation driver, and it is enabling us to systematically replace legacy systems in ‘our’ countries and roll out a new sales platform.
Vorwerk has leveraged Dynamic Services for SAP since 2005, making your company something of a cloud pioneer. What teething problems were there and what did you learn?
Back then Dynamic Services was certainly something like the pioneer version of cloud computing. There were still set-up costs, there was still a minimum threshold of services that you had to buy – all that makes the Dynamic Services of seven years ago quite different from the cloud computing offerings available today.
We’ve been benefiting from the huge advantage of having variable, on-demand SAP resources when we need them, with genuine 100 percent scalability, for seven years. But the speed of today – requested, provisioned and scaled down within 24 hours – that didn’t exist back then. Over the years, Vorwerk and T-Systems have developed a feel for this sourcing alternative and worked hand-in-hand to refine it. But this joint learning curve also calls for good service and delivery management from the ICT provider, so that we can implement what we need in our structures.
The cloud is praised to the skies by its providers. But what taboo topics do you think need to be spoken about more openly?
That HR and finance in an ERP environment do not belong in a public cloud. That isn’t acceptable now and it won’t be in five years either.
On the engineering side, migration is definitely a taboo issue. Because the greatest problem in the cloud for users is not finding the right solution, which I might buy as part of a conventional on-demand service. The challenge is: how do I integrate the standard services in my processes and into my existing system landscape? Or take the legal issues surrounding contract structuring; there are a lot of matters to do with the public cloud that are not yet watertight.
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