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On May 13th, 2021, the Master in Management (MiM) Program of Tsinghua School of Economics and Management (Tsinghua SEM) invited Wouter Peeters, Vice President of Technology & Analytics at Budweiser Brewing Company APAC, and his team to host a virtual skill seminar titled “Marching towards a Technology and Analytics Empowered Consumer Goods Company.” Nearly fifty students from Tsinghua SEM and other CEMS member schools participated in this seminar. Budweiser Brewing Company APAC (InBev) is a publicly-traded company based in Leuven, Belgium, committed to driving growth that leads to better living for more people in more places through brewing the best beer with the best ingredients. Their portfolio includes over 500 global beer brands, with breweries all across the world, and they are the largest beer company in the Asia Pacific by retail sales value in 2018. Through detailed theoretical explanations and case demonstrations from leaders of the Logistics team, Service and Operations team, and the Data Science team, students were able to see Budweiser APAC’s planning and execution of the digitization process in a step-by-step manner.

Professor Sun Yacheng of Tsinghua SEM introduces Budweiser Brewing Company APAC’s Skill Seminar.

Peeters started off the seminar by giving students an overview of Budweiser APAC, their overall strategy for moving towards digitization as a consumer goods company, and their top three goals of 2021, which include: Premiumization, Digitalization, and Expansion. Peeters emphasized that as Asia rises to become the top purchasing power countries it is important for the company to create more premium brands for these wealthier consumers. In order for them to stay competitive in the market, Budweiser puts digitization of the company and expansion into new markets of the utmost importance. Specifically, in order to digitize on a higher level, the company needs to 1) Digitally connect consumers, this is important because more digital interactions with consumers can lead to more connections with other people online. 2) Digital Commerce and 3) Digital RTM (Road to Market) is important as Asia’s e-commerce industry is the world’s largest and fastest-growing industry, it is important for the company to formalize and digitize the traditional road to market system. 4) Engage digitally with POCs (point of connections) i.e., bars and shops, etc. 5) Digital Back Service, which is to create an in-house technology center for digitization (i.e., BudTech engineering center- Budweiser’s in-house technology center).

Budweiser Brewing Company APAC team’s top three goals of 2021, and strategy for moving towards digitization as a consumer goods company.

Next, Zak Manion, from the Innovations and Analytics team talked about the launch of BudStart in April 2021, which mimicked the private technology market sector within Budweiser. BudStart helps fund and mentor entrepreneurs to grow their ideas within the company, helping startups from a functional, technical, and legal perspective, as well as networking corporate connections.

Zak Manion talked about BudStart’s innovation pipeline for funding and mentoring entrepreneurs to grow their ideas.

Then, Felix Dai, who runs the Service and Operations back-office talked about how the company had migrated its global business services, business process restructuring, and digitization analytics across the organization. He showed many case examples for how the company transformed data into operations, i.e. logistics on control tower sharing, logistics across the supply chain (sales and operation growth), and their portfolio’s supply and demand, inventory, and supply chain risks. Dai emphasized the importance of real-time data synchronization, as it can change the data into real actions. The integration of digitalization and synchronized supply chain drives growth through its short-term and long-term planning. AI and machine learning is also a major part of helping the decision-making process, as it uses a synchronized supply chain to connect all the nodes to react faster to people’s needs.

Felix Dai explained the building process and structure of Budweiser’s operational analytics capability.

Following, Patrick Lu talked about how to manage the company’s technology aspect, from improving internal efficiency to managing traffic costs. He explained that it was important for the company to build its business into a platform or a data operating system. This type of system requires a combination of business architecture, product architecture, and technology architecture to bring more opportunities for the company to grow faster. To succeed with digital transformation, it is important for data to be collected and analyzed in real-time so their consumers can be recommended products that fit their needs.

Patrick Lu emphasizes the importance of using a “three in one” combination of business architecture, product architecture, and technology architecture to bring more opportunities for the company, which in turn helps improve internal efficiency.

Lastly, Nick Wang, the Director of Analytics and Data Science team talked about difficulties regarding data collection and analytics during digital transformation at Budweiser. One of the biggest problems is that data science needs a large amount of high-quality data. Machine learning and big data are used here to make the process more efficient in digital transformations. Some data science examples include collecting data from microblogs and locating the geography of their products.

Nick Wang showed students real cases their team has encountered in regards to data collection and digital transformation, as well as what the company is currently doing to solve these issues.

At the end, there was a question-and-answer session where students raised questions for the team regarding what the company’s plan is for future expansion into rural areas and how the company utilizes QR codes for consumer connections. The teams took turns answering and came to a conclusion that they would focus mostly on the digital channel to expand its sales because in some locations beer was still niche and there was room for expansion of the industry. The market for beer is growing in major cities, outperforming the industry in growth, so it is important to analyze every city’s maturity to decide which brands in their portfolio to push in different cities. They hope to use their data points to collect insights to better understand upcoming trends and hopefully cause more impact. The seminar ended successfully with the applause of the students.

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