Mr Engelbrett, could you please introduce yourself?
I represent the fashion company hummel. We are mainly involved in sports fashion, and we have more brands than just hummel, for example, Newline and Halo. Next year we celebrate our 100 year anniversary, so we are a modern company, but with a long tradition regarding sports clothes.
As for myself, I started 5 months ago as Head of IT at hummel. My aim is to prepare our IT department for the growth journey that the company is on. We have the ambition to be one of the top 10 sports brands in the world. Hence, our objective is to double our revenues in the coming years, expanding a lot – becoming more and more of an international company.
Where is hummel’s headquarters?
Our headquarters is in Aarhus in Denmark, but we have branches in Norway, Sweden – all over Europe and in the US. Germany is actually our biggest market. But we are also an important player in Turkey as well as in England. We support some of the biggest clubs over there – Everton, for example, uses Hummel clothes, the Hummel logo. We are also involved in Spain and FC Cologne here in Germany.
Can you please describe the IT landscape at hummel?
As Head of IT, I am responsible for all our application landscape in every branch. Some countries like Turkey started up as a licensed partner, before we bought back about 70%, so they have their own IT department. At hummel we are not yet fully integrated, but one of the jobs I have been hired for is to help consolidate all our systems.
Could you outline how digital transformation is relevant to your business?
We talk a lot about digital transformation – how we can work smarter and use technology in our working environment. Creating a more attractive workplace that is not too old-fashioned, with too much document handling. We hired more than 100 people last year.
But we also talk about digitalisation regarding our customers. We have only been in E-commerce for the last 5 years. So we entered that market a bit late and part of our growth journey is the integration to all marketplaces. So, we talk a lot about how we can build digital products around our customers, how IT can improve our workflows and processes for them.
What IT issues did you face when you started at Hummel?
When your company is expanding quickly you build more and more logic in the existing, old ERP system. This had become a big problem for us because the performance was not good and it wasn’t scalable.
The issues we faced at Hummel were mainly related to the disconnection between E-Commerce and PoS:
- stores were unable to see inventory levels,
- replenishing of missing items in-store was not possible via POS,
- E-commerce stock levels didn’t automatically reflect in-store stock changes,
- customers couldn’t order items from POS to their home or for collection in-store,
- existing IT set-up was slow and inefficient and thus
- we worked with largely unwieldy solutions, developed in-house.
Now with Lobster we are fit for the future. Hummel mainly buys standard systems – standard platforms. We only develop them modestly. We mainly develop in our ERP systems and we have an application landscape that is growing a lot when we enter new markets. So we needed a high performance integration tool and simultaneously we needed to find what I call a strategic partner offering that one tool we are happy with. So now, we are focussed on Lobster allowing us to successfully manage our growth journey.
And how convenient is Lobster_data? How are your staff finding it?
That is one of the good things about Lobster_data: It is very stable. For me it’s like a premium German car, stable with high performance. But also, the software’s interface and no code technology is very user-friendly. It means that I can hire people that are not developers because these experts are so difficult to find. I can hire people that understand the business but also have an interest in IT and integration – they might do a little SQL – understand a little about database setups. That’s all. The people in our integration team – that is our Lobster team – are not IT heavy. In this situation when hiring is so difficult that is a key point.
What do you see as benefits of Lobster_data?
I would point out how much Lobster’s flexible and fast flagship solution Lobster_data improves the scalabilityand reliable performance. With some of our old integration tools we had a lot of problems. Performance-wise – that was not working perfectly.
By introducing Lobster_data in our IT-landscape hummel
- improved the connectivity between its 10 different systems
- replaced >4 integration systems (DataSwitch K3, Ebizz-EDI and more) with one simple, scalable solution
- is now able to receive, process and send all manner of EAI/EDI files within one centralised data hub.
Since you’re familiar with the new features in the Lobster_data 4.5 release, could you imagine using, for example, the ETL/ELT Module? Or the Workflow Module?
Yes. That is something we are going to look into right now. I think ETL and ELT are an interesting area. But also some of the developments in the form part that has been optimised in the new release of Lobster_data 4.5. We want to look into it because we have a lot of EDI settings in different countries to handle.
Are there any other Lobster services, such as the support or the Academy that you use?
When we bought the license, we used the Basic Training – and around 2-3 months ago we booked the Advanced Training. We could have orderd an online session – but we did find a setup where Matthew, the Lobster Nordics consultant, could come to our place. We have some big, big projects going on right now – so our employees could train for half the day and then go back to their office working on our projects for the other half of the day. This schedule was more suitable for us. Lobster offered us the opportunity to choose what we wanted.
But not only the training has been working great, but also when it comes to support. All request had been well answered in a short time. The Service Level Agreement has proved its efficiency. But also, we have been close to our Key Account Manager Martin Bjorheim since he is someone who can fix any issues right away. I would rate this cooperation 9, if 10 is the best.
So a direct line?
Yes, support and consulting is important for us. Especially now because we have been doing some big projects with Lobster. We are building a big warehouse in Denmark which will support Europe in its entirety. And for that huge warehouse project, we didn’t have enough resources in Hummel IT and the integration team – so we bought resources from Lobster.
In the future, what challenges do you see your company facing in terms of digitalisation?
For us, the key issue is the scalability. That we are able to increase our revenue over time. To increase our scale, our systems over time as well. We need an infrastructure and an application landscape that can support that, since the amount of integration is just going to explode. So it is very important that the systems we are using are in front with regard to technology and development. And the demands from the market as well. Easily integrating with all different marketplaces all over the world is a key factor for our business.
(Interview 23rd September)