Cloud infrastructure - always focusing on the benefit of our customers

Interview with Dr. Dietmar Guhe, Vice President IT

When did Arvato start building a cloud infrastructure?

At Arvato, we have been planning a uniform cloud structure since 2014 and have been implementing it consistently. In 2015, the current Arvato locations in the USA went into the Office 365 environment. Essential was a unified mailing system, unified user management and a central SharePoint for data storage and exchange. At this point, we were still doing real cloud pioneer work withthis. We started the targeted migration of production processes and the relocation of all employee accounts to our own cloud tenant about three years ago.

What cloud strategy are we pursuing, what is the goal of our digital transformation?

Our digital transformation strategy is clearly aligned with our corporate vision: We want to become the internationally operating supply chain management company with the strongest customer focus and the greatest IT expertise.

One specific goal in everything we do in terms of cloud is security. To ensure the security of our customers' data and our own, we have so far invested a mid-double-digit million euro sum in restructuring our IT landscape. We want to leverage all the synergies that a cloud structure offers for us and our customers. Efficiency and security are extremely important here, but are almost background standards. More visible to our customers are our flexibility and speed, as well as the scalability of systems and processes. We are leaner and more agile! In the cloud, we can respond more effectively to customer needs and events, providing a comprehensive customer experience.

Dr. Dietmar Guhe

What is the current status?

At the moment, we are in the process of creating and rolling out new and uniform infrastructure. In this step, we are taking a pioneering role as far as the industry standard is concerned. The speed at which we are rolling out the necessary technologies is remarkable. For us, this is primarily due to the short decision-making paths. We don't need a 100-page decision paper; instead, we sit down once, discuss it together in IT and, in the case of larger financial decisions, with the CEO. Then we get started. This mentality is what sets Arvato apart and is also a real competitive advantage for our customers.

Please give us concrete examples of how our customers benefit from digital transformation.

One example that is paying off concretely for our customers is the migration of the production clients in the warehouses to the cloud. Office 365 is not necessary on these clients because ultimately only an SAP mask runs on them. All processes that run on the devices in production will be mapped in the cloud and the devices themselves are independent of this. So if a device breaks in the future, it can simply be replaced by another one and the employee can continue working directly without losing data or experiencing delays due to technical problems. In addition, the data is stored securely in the cloud and is only accessed via the devices. Here again, all the advantages of the cloud structure are evident. Both for our employees, whom we in IT like to see as our internal customers, and for our external customers, who benefit concretely from these measures.

However, migration is only the first step in deriving maximum benefit from the cloud. In buzzwords, it offers us and our customers international scalability, shorter time-to-market, resilience, security, significantly faster communication, space savings and lower total cost of ownership. Ultimately, however, it is just a means of operating the IT environment in a different way and with greater business agility, unlocking new value for our company and our customers. Our customers are always one step ahead of their competition. That's when it gets really fun.

The connected end-customer experience is at the heart of all our efforts. In addition, the security of our customers' data is a key concern. In the cloud, we and thus our customers benefit from global experience and protective measures.

Dr. Dietmar Guhe, Vice President IT

You talk about the security of our customer data as a key concern. Can you explain that in more detail?

Gladly - in terms of security, we have already achieved a lot. Here, the cloud is simply unbeatable. Of course, there is always the question: Is the data even secure in the cloud? But the fact is that it is simply not possible to provide security on this scale without cloud services. In addition, the cloud gives us a much better and faster overview and we can see whether we are being attacked in various places or whether it is an isolated incident.

Security is an extremely high priority for us, and the cloud plays a key role in helping us meet our high security standards. And this is especially true worldwide. A central IT infrastructure not only supports us in Germany, but also defines new security standards for all countries inwhich we are active. And cooperation with our international colleagues is excellent, because the cloud naturally enables us to provide everything we need without any problems.

What benefits do Arvato employees derive from the cloud infrastructure?

We have clearly already achieved our goal of becoming faster. Both in terms of our share of building new site infrastructure and at employee level. We use the same existing standards worldwide, whether in the warehouse or in the office, which also makes support much easier and shortens the time it takes to get a site up and running. This saves time and nerves for everyone involved.

We are still looking into translation services that automatically translate general texts into the employee's respective language. This is also a great benefit for internal communication and promotes corporate culture because language is no longer a hurdle. The good usability is also a great benefit for everyone. Our employees can concentrate fully on their work, their customers and on promoting innovation. Commitment, concentration and - very important - fun at work increase. The organization is healthy!

These benefits must also be kept in mind from an employer branding perspective: the more engaged employees are, the easier it is to retain them and build high-performing teams. It's easier for a company with an innovative culture to attract top talent. This all pays off in terms of our unique selling points in the market and ultimately increases our performance in the interests of our customers!


How does the cloud affect automation projects?

This is one of the points where we perceive the cloud as an enabler. Automatic image recognition of how damaged a return is, automatic recognition of piece counts in packages - these are services that areenabled by the cloud in the first place. And finally, our plant control systems will also all run in the cloud. They will then be more flexible and also fail-safe.

Thank you very much for the interview. One final question: What are you particularly proud of?

Let's look at the technical side first: The way we manage our cloud is more than outstanding. For us and our customers. Transparency - very important! What do we see and what specifications do we make? We have a very good handle on all that. This allows us to provide a very high level of security because we always have a good overview of theactivities in our tenant. If unusual events occur, we can track them quickly and respond accordingly.

But what I am particularly proud of is the performance of the entire team. The way we work together is exemplary, and that's the only way global collaboration can be successful. It's great to see how the international teams work together and help each other. This community idea is exactly where we want to go, and the cloud can provide us with significant support in this regard.

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