Trade, Transportation, and Utilities
Van Caem Klerks
About Van Caem Klerks Group
Van Caem Klerks Group is an international trading house with over 50 years of experience importing and exporting many A-brand products through Van Caem Liquor, Van Caem Prestige, Van Caem Luxury and Lifestyle, Klerks Fine Wines, and Van Caem Distribution. The group aims to serve its customers' global sourcing and distribution needs and inspire its people to dedicate themselves to the highest levels of customer support and operational excellence. To accomplish this mission, modern technology has proven to be essential.
The Need To Accelerate
Van Caem Klerks Group was ready for the next step—to grow and further strengthen its market position. "However, we soon realized that we were not digitally advanced enough to take on our competitors, who were way faster than us," says Wilco Lek, COO at Van Caem Klerks Group. He adds: "If we want to keep up with the competition, we need to automate, and we need continuous access to the latest data. It's time to start using data to our advantage."
Every Man to His Trade
At the start of the collaboration, Van Caem Klerks Group was only using the data generated from open or old orders, all other information needed to be sourced. Hence, traders spent a lot of time manually updating the price lists in Excel. "But that's not a trader's job. A trader has to trade," Wilco says. To ensure that becoming data-driven helps people do what they do best and add value to the business, developing a data strategy was essential.
Putting the Business in the Driver’s Seat
Together with Van Caem Klerks Group, Steven Nooijen and Roel Bertens (Xebia Data & AI) created a high-level data strategy that answers critical questions like the why, what, and how of data and analytics for the organization. The goal was to make the process of transforming data into business value easy to understand for everyone within the company - tech-savvy or not. "By doing this in co-creation, we ensure that the plan comes to life in the organization and that it empowers employees to achieve specific business objectives using data and AI,” Steven adds.
From Strategy to Execution
"We deliver a realistic and pragmatic data strategy that supports execution," says Steven. He adds: "It's an action-oriented document. It translates industry insights and business ambitions into value creation, target architecture, concrete epics, and required change management." In this case, the data strategy sets out three action items for Van Caem Klerks Group that Xebia was able to help with:
- Build a data platform on Azure that will enrich the existing ERP data (orders, invoices) with other data sources (e.g., competitor prices) to build data products for automation and deliver insights.
- Establish a Business Intelligence (BI) Team. From recruiting the right professionals to guiding the team toward delivering the right data products.
- Create a roadmap for the BI Team to deliver value aligned with the data strategy.
"Becoming a data-driven company is not just about getting the technology right. Working with data kickstarts a business transformation that requires a mindset shift. It's more than a one-off IT project, and that's why you need to capture your ambitions in a data strategy." - Steven Nooijen, Head of Data & AI Strategy at Xebia.
Business Intelligence Team
The new BI Team was set up in December 2021 by Xebia's Roel Bertens and then handed over to a newly hired internal Lead, Rik Krouwel. The team includes two Analytics Engineers (from Xebia), an apprentice Analytics Engineer (from Xebia), and a front-end developer.
The BI Team is responsible for translating the strategic goals set by the board into viable data products that generate business value. It is entirely self-supporting and in charge of working with the data platform.
Working With the Right People
For Van Caem Klerks Group, a plan is only as good as the ability to execute it. Therefore, working with the right people is very important. The company is eager to learn from Xebia's Analytics Engineers, and it leaves no stone unturned when sourcing the best talent across the globe. Currently, the group employs over 20 nationalities.
"The BI Team did a great job explaining what it means to become a data-driven company. It's essential to create awareness and be open about what we are doing, why, and how long it'll take. Because we did this so well, nobody resisted the transformation, and we can count on the support of our people and the board" - Wilco Lek, COO at Van Caem Klerks Group
Trust is the cornerstone of partnerships, and this partnership was no different. "Trust and a cultural fit are most important for us, and with Xebia, we instantly experienced both. We can progress much faster because all parties are on the same page," Wilco explains.
- WE ARE COMMITTED TO A CLEAR GOAL: Our new data strategy describes the direction we are headed and helps us grow to the analytical insights we need.
- WE ARE BECOMING FASTER: With just one push of a button, the data platform gives traders price lists that are always up-to-date. Previously, our traders would spend a few days collecting this information in an Excel file; now, they have a complete overview within minutes, which increases productivity. Together with Xebia, we have accelerated daily operations and overall business growth.
- WE ARE SELLING MORE PRODUCTS: If a customer wants a specific product, we now know where to source it. Even if we have never bought this product before, the data platform tells us exactly where and at what price we can get it. We are turning away less business and selling more!
- WE ARE GATHERING VALUABLE INSIGHTS: Compiling the price list in a new way (using a bot and data) yields an awful lot of exciting pieces of information. Even though we aren't using all this data today, it can help determine trends or make decisions in the future