Wine producer creates right blend for new technology

When you're the CIO of a company that has embarked on an aggressive acquisition strategy, you are left with the Herculean task of integrating all the disparate IT systems that are collected along the way.

In the past three years Australian-owned wine producer McGuigan Simeon Wines has acquired a number of companies and rather than replace the IT systems it inherited, decided to embark on a massive integration project.

Ryan Klose, the company's CIO, said the goal is to standardise architecture but retain the best-of-breed applications and systems it acquired and integrate them into core IT systems.

Recognising the need to be more agile, McGuigan Simeon Wines selected BEA WebLogic Integration as the platform for its service oriented architecture (SOA) strategy.

The project is expected to be completed at the end of this year and follows the acquisition of Miranda Wines in 2003, and the former Fosters' packaging site at Mildura, Victoria, in 2004.

Klose said along the way the company acquired Movex from Intentia, a number of export document systems from Ausdocs and Trident, and a host of other systems.

The vintner has standardised its reporting on Cognos and will maintain its Easy Wine application which has accounting and distribution features.

"We have six wineries and while we have 250 users today this number continues to grow as we transfer our manual operations to electronic processes," he said.

For example, the company's process ordering system, which used to be keyed in manually over two days, is now done electronically.

"We generate about 80 to 100 orders a week, this task now takes about 10 minutes," he said.

"We were under pressure from major retailers to use electronic data interchange (EDI) which we now have the architecture to do.

"At any given time, we have $2 million worth of stock on hand so we need to be able to track it."

Klose said the project allows the company to reduce ongoing support for a number of applications and gives it the ability to adopt new technologies more rapidly.

"By implementing SOA, we're able to bring greater efficiencies to the business while increasing readiness for future growth," he said.

"As a publicly listed company, we're very focused on ROI. By moving to the WebLogic platform we expect a full return on our investment within two years of implementation."

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