Business Intelligence Software at Sysco Case Study

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REV: SE PT EMB E R 11, 20 06

ANDRE W MC A F EE ALI S ON BE RKLE Y W A G O N F ELD

Business Intelligence Software at SYSCO

Introduction

Twila Day left the meeting excited, but also a little nervous. Her Technology and Applications Group had just been given approval by the Director’s Council of SYSCO to proceed with a company- wide deployment of business intelligence (BI) software. The effort was intended to help SYSCO, the largest food distributor in North America, make better use of the information generated by its operations and serve its customers better. The Director’s Council, a group of senior managers with substantial power and influence, had been impressed enough by the results of a
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To fill orders, SYSCO managed relationships with suppliers and moved items through its vast network of warehouses onto multitemperature delivery trucks. Nearly 9,000 delivery associates transported customer orders, unloading over 1 billion cases of product each year. The company also provided customers with product-usage reports, food-safety training, installation and service of beverage-dispensing machines, and many other services. As of December 2002, SYSCO had 45,000 employees. 1

Organization

SYSCO was a highly decentralized business composed of over 100 operating companies. Senior executives believed in treating these companies as largely independent businesses whose leaders should be entrepreneurial and growth oriented. Consequently, operating company managers had substantial autonomy; they could market to customers and invest in their businesses as they saw fit.2 Corporate staff in Houston represented only 3% of total SYSCO employees.

In early 2003, SYSCO contained 83 regional operations and 62 specialty companies. Regional operations, usually referred to as “broadline companies,” served geographical areas ranging from single cities to multiple states and accounted for approximately 75% of total sales. Specialty companies, many of which were recently acquired, focused on food categories such as produce and meat, or customer categories such as Asian food service, hotels, and selected chain restaurants. (See

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