"We want to operate 'seamlessly' by 2025"
Matt Caffery is Solutions Architect at ASSA ABLOY UK. With more than 10 years of sales experience in IT across multiple channels and specialties including security, software and hardware, Matt works globally with Big Data- creating BI reports, applications and eBusiness platforms for business continuity, growth and customer satisfaction. In this interview, he gives us insight into the working world of the ASSA ABLOY Group.
The ASSA ABLOY Group is a Swedish globally-operating group of companies that produces and sells locking systems, electromechanical products, security doors and fittings. From the point of view of product information, it should always be up-to-date and available worldwide- which is a particular challenge in terms of data management.
In recent years, ASSA ABLOY has added many well-known brands to its impressive portfolio. However, the large and ever-growing variety of brands and products requires a considerable amount of time to create and maintain product data sheets. A key challenge here is to ensure that the datasheets both fit into ASSA-ABLOY's overall structure and aesthetics, while retaining key elements of the individual brands' corporate design to ensure a consistent brand image.
Product Experience Management (PXM) and Product Information Management (PIM) development and management is the responsibility of Matt Caffery for the UK. His task: to deliver a compelling customer experience across all sales channels, improve the quality of product data and simplify the management of the product catalog. With such a complex task, we asked Matt Caffery a few questions.
Would you like to start by telling us something about the ASSA ABLOY Group and your work there and your function?
Sure! I've been with the ASSA ABLOY Group for four years now and was originally hired as an Application Analyst. My focus today as a Solutions Architect is still in the end on one aspect: data, data, data. These come into play in areas such as e-commerce, mobile applications, of course still print products and also the PIM solution we use, which is Akeneo.
Why is data so important to you?
We have over 60 brands in the UK and we acquire companies frequently- on average about two companies a year. So, as you can imagine, it's quite a challenge to take new brands and integrate them into our systems. To name a couple, we're talking about Adobe, IBM Websphere.
My job is to make sure that when new companies come "on board," we have some sort of seamless tool and processes to make sure that the branding and the way we bring our new products to customers is consistent with the ASSA ABLOY brand. At its core, it's about centrally held information about products that is played out in data sheets, for example.
How big is your team?
My team is comprised of five people, but I also work with about 30 product managers throughout the company in the UK. And of course there are some marketing teams as well. So when we take over a company, we bring the knowledge, the product managers and the marketing teams, and we try to collaborate and cooperate. But sometimes you have to change outdated thinking and processes. So with a sensible software environment, we want to consolidate costs, get everything in one solution and get to market faster for our customers.
For product information, catalogs, data sheets, there was a massive shift to digital products during the pandemic. How did you experience this development?
As an example, during the pandemic we introduced a mobile app that allows access to our datasheets, which are always up to date and provide our customers with the right information, technical drawings, and so on. With the help of our PIM system Akeneo, we also have a "single source of truth" from which everything is recorded. This also includes the integration of print data.
It may sound a bit unspectacular at first, but our customers need precise product specifications to make purchasing decisions. We used to have products without data sheets, and customers were worried about buying the wrong products because they didn't know if they were suitable. They didn't have the right information at hand. Thanks to our software architecture, we are able to release thousands of datasheets in a matter of hours, and every customer has all the information they need to make a buying decision.
Just a few years ago, the printed catalog, the printed data sheet was the rule. Then came increasing digitization and the digitization driver Covid. Do you see this trend continuing - away from paper and towards digital?
Yes, definitely. In fact, at ASSA ABLOY, we have set ourselves the goal of working 100 percent "seamlessly" by 2025. That means, for example, that no one in house will manually touch an order coming from a customer. Central elements are API feeds and our web store, through which we increasingly map sales and transaction processes.
You talked about the goal of being "seamless" and data-driven in all product information by 2025. That's not far off. How do you see the development beyond that?
One point is the further enrichment of our product data; here we plan to introduce a bronze, silver and gold standard. In concrete terms, bronze then means something like the product title, maybe one or two unique selling points and some technical information. Then when you move to silver, of course you want scale drawings. Gold would then be the enrichment with videos. Then at the end we have an interactive product data sheet. Another point, of course, is the personalization and customization of product data to the needs of the buyer.
In addition, the digital extension of printed product information is of course exciting, I'm thinking of augmented and virtual reality applications. During Covid, when we launched our mobile app, we also immediately gave our customers integrated opportunities to talk to technical support and give them a live view, so their smartphone became a portal for our technical team. And the development is continues all the time. In any case, we are well equipped for all further developments with the technical basis we have.
Thank you very much for the interview!