Most of us have heard the myth of David vs. Goliath. And if you take the time to look around, this is a narrative that you can see play out in the business world quite often. Bombardier Inc. has just such a story.
Succeeding in the aerospace industry – especially when faced with heavy competition from companies like the Netherlands-based Airbus SE and the Chigaco-based Boeing Co. – can be a daunting task that requires working smarter to make up the financial gap, says Bombardier’s chief information officer, E. Jeffrey Hutchinson.
“We’re not the biggest fish in the sea. We compete against Airbus and Boeing and things of that nature,” said Hutchinson. “So we’re never going to outspend them. And if we can’t outspend them, then we’ve got to figure out ‘How can we be better? How can we enhance our capabilities? How can we be more efficient and more effective?'”
While Bombardier is valued at $5.09B USD, its main competitors, Boeing and Airbus, are valued at $190.79B USD and $90.08B USD, respectively. And this is the gap that Hutchinson referenced when he said that Bombardier cannot afford to throw around the same financial weight as its competition and therefore must look to be more efficient and effective.
“If we’re gonna be more efficient and more effective, I gotta make better decisions. But to do that, I got to have the data. And then if I have the intelligence to make those decisions, I’ve got to be an intelligent enterprise,” said Hutchinson.
They have worked towards this for over 20 years by using software from Germany-based SAP SE, said Hutchinson; mainly using SAP’s ECC and HANA products, as well as SAP’s expensing and HR software.
He says that these tools have been essential in managing a global company like Bombardier and being able to manage so many people around the world to ensure that time is being spent in efficient manners and everyone is working towards the same goal. But he was also sure to mention that these are just tools to leverage assets within your business, and you still need to have the talent and the structure required to succeed.
“As you look at solutions, it’s not as much about the technology. It’s about the transformation of the business objective you’re trying to get to. You cannot separate your business processes from the technology, from the talent, from the organization structures. They all have to come together,” he said in reference to amplifying company assets through technology like SAP offerings. “And one of the things that we’re looking at as we’re now moving forward in the future is making sure that across the board that we have end-to-end processes that are value changing, that are lean, that are effective.”
One way to find those efficient processes for Bombardier was bringing together experts and leaders from each of their departments from around the world together in Berlin last fall to discuss best process practise. They were all asked to explain how they do things and why they do them, and then discuss among themselves what was actually the best way to do it, before deciding on the best processes to implement in departments company-wide.
And he was especially surprised by how well some of those new tactics they developed lined up with some of the new SAP offerings.
“We had our people there go through it, and we went through it, and they came up with the higher level new processes of how they do things. And it was incredible how well those processes mapped into the new offerings and new capabilities of SAP. It was just a fantastic opportunity.”