Episode 46: Enabling Automation with Microsoft Power Platform at Heineken
This episode of #shifthappens features Andrew Sayers, who discusses how Heineken is using technology to streamline and automate functions in its brewery business. Heineken is a traditional Dutch brewery that has expanded globally with brands in 160 countries. The company is investing in new brands, working with local breweries and artisan breweries, and focusing on sustainability. Technology plays a significant role in Heineken's operations, particularly in production, where it helps organize the logistical operation with barcode scanning, automation, and digital tools. Sayers works in Heineken's supply chain subsidiary as a digital specialist, supporting the company's existing 40+ apps and developing new ones that improve efficiencies, reduce waste, and promote sustainability. The company uses Power BI to gain insights and analytics to track the amount of beer produced and the number of glasses supplied. Technology is also essential for delivering an experience and making it sustainable, especially when there are problems with water and the environment. Sayers' role is to use digital tools to progress the business and reach its sustainability goals by analyzing and improving processes.
Sayers discusses the benefits of using digital tools to reduce waste and inefficiency in business processes. He gives the example of a Power App used in the reception area to streamline the process of drivers coming in to load and unload. The app is touch-sensitive and displays information on the screen, ending the need for paperwork. The process is now seamless and efficient, and insights can be drawn from the data collected to improve processes further. The trend of low-code, no-code development, which the Power Platform is at the forefront of, makes it easier for non-technical staff to build apps and automate processes.
The discussion then turns to the considerations and approach to building apps in Power Platform. Sayers discusses an intake funnel used by business consultants to find the criticality of a solution and the number of people who will use it to figure out whether Power Platform is a suitable candidate for app development. He stresses that there needs to be boundaries and governance around the use of Power Platform as the power comes with great responsibility, and confidential information should not be posted on social media. The business value of an app and the resources available to support it are important considerations before developing an app. Power Apps can be developed within a few days, but more complex apps may need external developers. The lifecycle of an app is project-based and driven by user stories, with apps organically growing and evolving to meet new needs. The value of Power Platform lies in its ability to quickly develop and add features to an app to bring value quickly.
An example of that value comes in how quickly Power Apps can be used to test and iterate innovative ideas. Sayers highlights the benefits of enabling the mobile capability of Power Apps, allowing frontline workers to carry out safety inspections and report issues via their mobile devices, which can be automatically added to a SharePoint list. Power BI can also be used to analyze data and improve processes. Sayers notes that Power Apps are familiar to users because they are like consumer apps, making them more accessible and easier to adopt than older technologies like SharePoint. He also discusses how technology has evolved to provide multiple ways to access and consume information and interact with it, including through mobile apps like SharePoint News. Ultimately, it’s important to work closely with the business to ensure apps are intuitive and meet their needs, and Sayers notes the partnership between IT and the business has drastically changed in the last 10 years because of technologies like Power Platform.
Sayers shares an example of this shift in action with the ability of Power Platform and Microsoft 365 to automate and streamline day-to-day business processes. Because Power Platform provides an effortless experience by automating processes and allowing users to get on with what's important to them, Sayers suggests others start their journey by finding pain points in their daily work and picking something small to automate, such as notifications or approvals. By starting small, users can experience the value of the Power Platform and then build on that experience.
Overall, the podcast emphasizes the importance of providing an effortless experience, automating mundane manual tasks, and starting small to experience the benefits of the Power Platform and Microsoft 365.