Luxury brands build on data integration

Many applications mean integration headaches

With a stable of high-profile luxury brands to its name, and disparate IT systems to match, Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) implemented a data integration system to help streamline its business processes.

LVMH has a portfolio of some 50 luxury brands, from Dom Perignon champagne to Dior watches and Donna Karan New York fashion. Locally, it operates the Green Point winery in Australia and Cloudy Bay winery in New Zealand.

In Sydney for a conference, LVMH CIO Rodrigo Carretero, who is based in Argentina, had to deal with a lot of complexity in information and data management, hence spearheaded a consolidation project.

"In the past the business people didn't trust the information from systems and started to build their own Excel files," Carretero said. "There was a lack of integration of processes so we decided to change the whole thing."

LVMH set up a joint business and IT project three years ago and started using IBM's information server to help streamline the process of data integration from different systems and external entities like retail customers.

"We had to consolidate to set up a lot of business rules regarding data. Even if it is a world-class system like SAP, if you put in the wrong data it's useless," Carretero said. "The IBM information server established an enabling platform for growth and every year we add to the platform including banks, suppliers, and all players working in value adding. We must be very efficient in process delivery and supply chain. It's an ongoing process and it works very well."

Part of the strategy was to free the IT team's time in making systems work properly to focus on helping the business people to grow the business with the help of technology.

LVMH's software landscape is quite complex with ERP systems in France and Argentina, a procurement portal for integration with suppliers, data warehouse systems, and a planning system for medium- and long-term planning "which is important in the wine industry".

Add to that an order-taking application for retail companies via Web EDI, integration with banks for transactions, and CRM systems as well.

"We put all this complexity and businesses rules in one point of information," Carretero said, adding there is no more "black box" client/server relationship.

Carretero said it is difficult to calculate an ROI for the total project because the sub-projects are quite short and not one big bang effort that lasts one or three years.

"Every year we add integration points to the platform and we got more benefits than what we expected [so] the payback is quite short," he said.

LVMH also uses Cognos to analyze data coming from its different systems.

Vice president of worldwide marketing for information management at IBM Mark Register said LVMH's information server implementation began in Argentina and has spread to throughout the world.

Register said IBM's information server is a combination of R&D and the 2005 acquisition of Ascential Software.

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