How a modern data platform is quickly becoming La Lorraine’s bread and butter

From producing fresh and frozen baked goods in all shapes and sizes to filling the shelves of retail stores and supermarkets around the world, Belgian family business La Lorraine Bakery Group (LLBG) has quite a lot going on. While respect for tradition is key during production, LLBG’s IT department – led by group IT manager Bart D’haese – is as forward thinking as they come. For evidence, look no further than their compelling DEL20 IoT project. Their latest feat? Setting up a modern data platform to turn data into a strategic asset. Not only does this create business value today, it also paves the way for major opportunities tomorrow.

Our story begins back in 2018. Up until then, LLBG – like many family-owned businesses – acted mostly on intuition and standard data sets. Due to the company’s rapid growth and an exponential increase in data sources, new opportunities emerged. “It became increasingly difficult to provide our business stakeholders with conclusive answers,” Bart explains. “That’s why we decided to revise our business intelligence strategy and roadmap and build a concrete action plan and framework.”

Doing the right things and doing things right

Leveraging the value of data as much as possible doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of strategizing and planning to decide where to put one’s focus and resources. The main challenge that the team at LLBG faced was to find a way to collect data from a range of business silos – production, logistics, finance, etc. – but also from a large number of sales channels.

“From the get-go, we understood that we were going to need an end-to-end solution to achieve our goals,” Bart explains. “On top of that, the platform would have to be easily scalable and be able to grow along with the company, AND it would need to be extremely reliable and accessible. We had to be able to plug in new functionalities fairly smoothly.”

Azure à la carte

Bart decided to replace the old data platform with the Azure Modern Data Platform. “The Azure platform is built like a menu that allows you to choose the best technology to achieve your goal. The only challenge here is that it evolves all the time, so you have to acquire new knowledge and skills continuously. That’s where delaware’s help is proving very valuable: they have the technical and business expertise to help us make the most of what’s available.”

The implementation of the platform itself follows a 4-step approach, called a ‘maturity curve’. “In the first phase, we’ll be focusing mainly on reporting. In the second phase, we’ll try to find explanations for what we’ve been reporting on. Step three and four constitute deeper and deeper levels of prediction. An example of this are the insights and predictions we’re using to stimulate sales at our Panos sandwich bars. The insights in customers’ preferences we gain help us take targeted actions.”

Looking ahead to be able to look back

La Lorraine has always been a frontrunner when it comes to managing data. This approach, and a number of specific business cases, gave the company momentum to take it to the next level with a modern data platform. “If you want to be able to do anything with data in the near future – from predictive maintenance to all sorts of AI applications – you simply need to be able to tap into that historical data. This whole enterprise only works when you focus on the long-term ROI.”

“For me this project is a success when we’re able to report real results in the mid term. But even more than that, I’ll consider it a true achievement when we are able to create a cultural shift within the company in terms of considering the value of data. As data platform architects, delaware is playing a key role in helping us turn this dream into a reality, step by step.”

“La Lorraine is a prime example of a business looking beyond the day-to-day to lay the foundation for future success,” adds Pieter Hebben, partner at delaware within the data & analytics domain. “Working with Bart and his team to make their vision come to life is a true pleasure, all the way through.”

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