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Driving Digital Innovation through Robotics
By Francesco Tinto, Global CIO, The Kraft Heinz Company
1. Why focus on digital innovation-- and what does it entail?
When Kraft Foods Group and the H.J. Heinz Co. merged in 2015, we saw tremendous opportunities to recognize synergies and collectively align the new company on a common goal of becoming the best food company. With many of the integration efforts completed in 2016 and the formation of the Global Business Services (GBS) organization now in place, Kraft Heinz turned its attention to developing a digital workforce, through the use of RPA.
Recognizing the repetitive, manual, rule-based nature of the processes under GBS’s responsibility, RPA served as the perfect capability to deliver tremendous productivity gains by automating the trivial work being performed by humans.
Our vision is ‘To Be the Best Food Company, Growing a Better World
The benefit of saving tens of thousands of hours of productivity and increased transactional through put has enabled the team to shift its focus to more value-add activities, including reporting and analytics that drive greater business insights.
As benefits materialized, requests to expand RPA across the enterprise intensified immensely -- requiring investments in infrastructure, operational capabilities, training, and business routines to manage the fast-growing workforce. A cross-functional team consisting of representatives from IT, Internal Controls, Internal Audit, Procurement, and our newly formed Automation Center of Excellence was established to drive awareness, alignment and prioritization across all business functions. With the governance process now in place and a robust demand pipeline defined, the Automation COE is well-positioned to drive greater business value for Kraft Heinz in the future.
2. How will we be expanding digital innovation and Robotics in 2018?
As we continue to expand our digital workforce through process automation, production support has become an area of focus with the implementation of our Robotics Operations Center (ROC). Similar to a Network Operations Center (NOC), the ROC will serve as a central command center, providing visibility to the health, security, capacity and utilization of the many assets supporting the existing digital workforce, as well as the hundreds of additional “bots” planned for 2018.
3. What is next in Robotics for Kraft Heinz?
Building upon the learning and foundation delivered in 2017, we believe that Kraft Heinz has line of sight into additional use cases to grow the digital workforce through the combination of RPA and Artificial Intelligence (AI), including AI-based platforms to support the contract creation, invoice matching and trade pay processes -- as well as the utilization of digital assistants to assist employees with various administrative tasks and inquiries. We are expanding the level of sophistication by moving from automations that do (rule-based) to those that think (logic-based), to those that learn (adaptive, non-rule-based) to augment the role of humans, generating tremendous business value on both the top and bottom lines of the P&L.