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With an innovative culture comes digital transformation


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Disrupting Lebanon’s FMCG and pharmaceutical distribution market WRITTEN BY

Lebanese firm, Food and Drug Corporation, is harnessing the latest innovations to provide consumers with the quality brands they need every day

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LAURA MULLAN PRODUCED BY

CRAIG DANIELS


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“We should start embracing change so that we can be more proactive, flexible and remain competitive” — Bassam Baz, Head of IT

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T

he hardest part of a

to meet customers’ demands, adapt to the lat-

successful digital trans-

est international trends, and anticipate what

formation is creating a

lies ahead in the sector.

work culture that embraces

Headquartered in the Lebanese capital of

change and innovation, and per-

Beirut, FDC’s digital transformation has been

haps no company understands

far-reaching, but before any technology could

this better than Food and Drug

be implemented Head of IT, Bassam Baz, says

Corporation (FDC).

that the company worked tirelessly to create a

Undertaking a root-and-branch digital overhaul, the fast-moving

work culture which would foster innovation. “Probably the most difficult conversation

consumer goods (FMCG) and

you have to have is with the shareholders

pharmaceutical importer, mar-

because digital transformations can be

keter and distributor has strived

expensive,” Baz says candidly.

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BIO

“So, instead of saying ‘we’re going to have a digital transformation,’ we started to see the

Bassam Baz Head of IT

business’s needs. Then when we spoke to the shareholders and executives, we didn’t speak about technology, but we raised few questions such as ‘what do the customers want from us?’, ‘how can we meet their demands?’, ‘how can we increase their satisfaction levels?’, and many other questions while putting the customer at the centre. “Based on these needs, we put forward a business plan, supported by a digital transformation strategy, that shows the business value proposition and return on investment (ROI). “One of our key roles as the IT department is to educate, reassure and include all employees as we embark on the transformation process,” he continues. “This ensures they are engaged and understand that digitalisation will not take over their position but will make their work easier and more productive. With this plan in place, we started seeing a cultural shift

Before joining FDC, Baz headed the IT Department for one of the leading FMCG manufacturing companies in the Gulf. This rich experience enabled him to pick up the best practices and norms in distribution while working with different people from across the world with different cultures and backgrounds. After five years’ in the Gulf, in 2015, Baz decided to take a new challenge by joining FDC, one of the leading distribution companies in Lebanon, with a core mission to drive innovation and leverage technologies to provide value and support the overall vision of the company, which is to remain a key player in the supply and distribution of consumer goods and healthcare products.


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and a change in mindset throughout the company.” Shaped by this forward-thinking culture, FDC has firmly cemented itself as one of the leading distribution companies in the country, boasting a turnover of almost $120mn dollars in the Lebanese market. Present in three main categories – food and beverage, household & personal care, and healthcare – Baz says that the company’s core mission can be 06

summarised by one simple statement: “Providing consumers with everyday quality brands”. “We act responsibly because we genuinely care about our consumers and our reputation for excellence. Therefore, we always go the extra mile to guarantee customer satisfaction at all times,” he says. “On top of this, we have rich competencies, country-wide presence, solid marketing knowhow, young dynamic team, financial stability and uncompromising ethics. I think all of these competencies distinguish FDC J U LY 2 0 1 8


$120mn Approximate revenue

from other competitors in the market today.” In its latest effort to go the extra mile for its customers, FDC has undergone a mam-

2000

Year founded

501-1,000 Approximate number of employees

moth digital transformation at all business levels. Baz believes this was needed to maintain FDC’s competitive position. “Technology is transforming how we live, work and operates,” Baz observes. “We have to keep technology in mind because to compete in today’s market, organisations need to rapidly embrace emerging technologies for better customer experience while controlling cost and optimizing resources. “To be able to achieve this transformation successfully, IT needs to be looked at as disruptive innovators,” he continues. “At FDC, we believe new technologies has a big advantage on being more proactive, flexible and remain competitive. From this standpoint, it was the right time to take the next step and get ahead with digital disruption.” Led by its team of 650 profesw w w. f d c . c o m . l b

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sionals and sustainable approach to

trend in the day-to-day work.

growth, FDC has moved ahead with its

According to a survey by the Econo-

forward-thinking technology strategy.

mist Intelligence Unit, respondents who

It has transformed its front-end com-

described their company as a ‘pioneer’

munications and undertaken

in its use of mobile technology scored

end-to-end digitisation, but one of

16% better in terms of productivity than

FDC’s most cogent uses of technology

peers who described their firm’s use of

has been the way it has adopted a

mobile technology as ‘bad’.

mobile workplace approach. Baz underlines how the firm has cre-

Baz says mobility is an important facet of FDC’s sales department. Using

ated a digital workplace to promote

4G-connected commercial tablets, he

mobility which has become a common

noted that sales representatives can

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now receive real-time information to

opportunities for increased revenues,

track customer financial situations,

based on a predefined algorithm that

stock availability and promotions.

looks at customers’ buying trends and

Additionally, these tablets are also

consumers’ behaviour, for example,”

helping to automate processes by offer-

explains Baz. “Such smart indicators

ing a digital catalogue, appointment

help our team to provide better ordering

scheduling and analytical dashboard.

recommendations to the customer,

Keen to analyse and learn from its rich sales data, FDC has also explored the

meet their needs and, most importantly, win at the shelf.”

use of machine learning technologies.

“The Sales Force Automation (SFA)

“This has enabled the sales team to

solution has also equipped the sales

address sales trends, shortfalls, and

reps with rich knowledge which

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“Machine learning enabled the sales team to address sales trends, shortfalls, and opportunities for increased revenues” — Bassam Baz, Head of IT

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for leave from their mobiles,

“To be able to achieve this transformation successfully, IT needs to be looked at as disruptive innovators,” — Bassam Baz, Head of IT

check their leave balance, examine pay slips and review performance results. This service had a realised cost savings while stepping towards an eco-friendly environment.” Zeroing in on its operational expenditure (OPEX) rather than its capital expenditure (CAPEX), FDC also introduced standard, intuitive and sometimes off-theshelf mobile solutions, to become more agile and reactive.

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increased the customer satisfaction level,

With this in mind, FDC

reduced inquiries, created triangle of trans-

launched a cloud software as a

parency between FDC and customers,

service (SaaS) solution for its

accelerated the time to market, and empow-

merchandising team which

ered sales reps to pursue more opportunities,”

empowered merchandisers to

he continues.

have automated processes such

“On the other side, SFA has enabled

as planogram checking, image

sales supervisors to have up-to-the-min-

capturing and shelf share.

ute information about their teams and

Besides this, it has also enabled

related clients including geo-tracking,

FDC to have online visibility in

secure messaging, and productivity KPIs.”

promotion execution, with an on-

Boasting a solid financial standing, it

the-fly notification system that

seems technology is also revolutionising

allows the back-office team to act

all FDC functions.

rapidly if products are close to

“Digital transformation has changed the way

expiration or unavailable.

employees engage with FDC through the HR

“Another SaaS solution we

self-service that enables employees to apply

introduced is called TreasuryX-

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Click here to watch FDC’s Annual lunch 2018

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press which gives us access to a

of efficiency, collaboration, flexibility and

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productivity.

management solution,” Baz

“In our effort to empower a modern work-

notes. “It enables stakeholders to

place, we enabled virtual meetings through

make critical business decisions

Skype for Business,” Baz notes. “This meant

and improve long and short-term

people could join meetings from their laptops

financial operations,” he added.

and mobile devices. This encourages collabo-

Mobile technologies have proven to be an effective driver

ration across the company and reduces the cost of traditional communication tools. w w w. f d c . c o m . l b


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“FDC also introduced OneDrive for Business which provided a place in the cloud where each employee can store and share work files, and even work on documents with others anywhere at the same time. “We have also implemented Yammer as social network platform within FDC. It is used for sharing information, announcements, achievements, activities and success stories amongst our colleagues,” Baz adds. “This tool enabled us to have greater interaction among employees.” To support this sweeping digital transformation, FDC created what Baz describes as the “one of the most powerful and scalable data centres in the Lebanese FMCG distribution industry today. “From a technology point of view, it’s a tier 3 converged data centre which supports provisioning on demand, virtualisation, environmental management system and guarantees 99.7% of data availability,” he explains. “On top of this, it has also enabled a fully wireless solution

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across FDC which allows employees to

Lebanese firm has worked diligently to

stay connected on mobile, tablet, lap-

attract and retain a skilled team.

top, wherever they are.” Combining a progressive work cul-

“We always enrol the IT team in an annual development programme,” Baz

ture with its new digital strategy, FDC

says. “This encourages them to be

has grown to become a more digitally-

more intuitive, to get more familiar with

enabled company. However, it hasn’t

new technological tools, and remain up-

lost sight of one of the key drivers of its

to-date with the latest trends.

success – it’s team. With this in mind, Baz says that the

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“The IT team also participates in the annual excellence awards to demon-


strate their work and achievements,” he

ship capabilities by sponsoring

continues. “In 2017, the IT team won the

executive education.”

outstanding achievement award for the mobility solutions that we implemented. “As part of our work culture, we strive

With a reach extending to more than 10,000 outlets across Lebanon, FDC strives to deliver quality products to its

to be an employer of choice by truly car-

consumers, by carefully selecting its

ing for our employees, equipping them

brands, rapidly adapting to trends and

with outstanding tools, opening the

now undertaking a mammoth digital

doors to new possibilities, increasing

transformation, the company has firmly

involvement and strengthening leader-

established itself as one of the nation’s

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‘Smart Warehousing and Distribution’ solutions. Baz says that investing in IoT technology could also increase speed and shipping accuracy and will also profoundly change logistics management. Meanwhile, blockchain technology could also evolve the supply chain operation. Needing to be more customercentric by retaining trust and enhancing the user experience, FMCG companies face continu-

Click here to watch ‘A day at the Distribution Center’

ous challenges today. One important challenge arising on digitisation level is the issue of cybersecurity.

leading FMCG and pharmaceutical distributors. But what lies on the road ahead? In the short term, different technology

Today, the threat landscape is evolving rapidly and consequently, FDC introduced a

trends will soon take over the FMCG sector.

Managed Security Service with

Therefore, FDC says it may explore more cut-

its strategic partner Crystal Net-

ting-edge solutions like artificial intelligence,

work to recognise and mitigate

robotics and machine learning.

cyber threats through its Security

For example, Baz believes that artificial intelligent chatbots may be used to respond to customer inquiries. In the long term, other technologies like the

Operations Centre (SOC) service. Through this partnership, Baz says FDC also gained a seamless methodology to guarantee multi-

Internet of Things (IoT) will also be of vital

layer security strategy, catch and

value for distributor companies, offering

repair vulnerabilities, organise

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“This transformation has the ability to break down functional silos and to make the company more productive, but it is also changing the way we interact with our customers and meet their demands” — Bassam Baz, Head of IT

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staff awareness training and adopt the latest security technology whilst maintaining the optimal ROI. Most importantly, this solution has also prepared the ground for FDC to comply with the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that is now being requested by its business partners located in Europe. But, regardless of what is implemented, it seems FDC will remain focused on one core goal – to enhance the experience of both FDC users and its customers alike. “At the end of the day, this digitisation strategy has two angles: colleagues and customers. This transformation has the ability to break down functional silos and to make the company more productive, but it is also changing the way we interact with our customers and meet their demands.�

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6th floor, Byblos Bank building, Rachid Karameh street, Verdun  Beirut P.O.Box 11-8182 Lebanon T +961 1 862000  www.fdc.com.lb

FCD - Brochure 2018  
FCD - Brochure 2018