Cube Cold Europe is a cold storage infrastructure platform with a buy and build strategy. It buys cold store companies in Europe and forges them into one synergistic whole. With each acquisition, Cube Cold needs to know how the companies are doing at a glance. That is now possible with the Smart Data Platform, realized within six months to Cube Cold’s requirements.
The challenge: direct control of new business
Cube Cold Europe sees great opportunities in the European cold storage market. To achieve this, it is integrating and expanding stable family businesses. From Moerdijk to the United Kingdom, state-of-the-art cold stores are being built, for example, mainly for food and medicine. But how do you make sure that you integrate and report on those companies in a uniform way so that you keep them financially healthy? In addition to solid due diligence, this requires a thorough analysis of IT and harmonization of financial and operational reporting.
Support from A to Z
Having control requires thorough research. Among other things, Macaw developed a checklist of 150 questions. From this, a recommendation rolled out which IT adjustments needed to be arranged so that a new company could connect seamlessly. Once connected, Cube Cold has central control over all subsidiaries with data analyses of all warehouse, transport and financial data.
The approach: a Smart data platform
Solid business management requires a robust, future-proof IT foundation: a Smart Data Platform on Microsoft Azure. Thanks to the Smart Data Framework, Macaw was able to build both the foundation and the data platform within six weeks.
The result: a plug and play Smart Data Platform
Now Cube Cold Europe has control over its assets, quickly connects new businesses and has insight into its metrics every day. Viktor Moricz, Finance & Operations Analyst at Cube Cold has been working with Macaw from the first data connection to Power BI reports and further development. “Since day one it has been a pleasure. I get along very well with the program manager René. In all areas where I do business with them, it just goes well: they are all professionals who create added value.”
Easily connecting new companies
Before Viktor worked with the Smart Data Platform, the subsidiaries sent him Excels, plus emails. “I was instructed to merge the data of all the assets. I can do that for some, but if we soon have ten, it’s not feasible. Macaw has experience merging data and quickly came up with the Smart Data Platform as a solution. When I see with how much ease we can now connect new assets, I know we have a seriously good architecture.”
Scalable connecting new businesses
To connect new companies quickly, you don’t want to start from scratch every single time, and you don’t have to. “The Smart Data Platform is a standardized, scalable solution. We need a super-fast car to drive, but we’ve spent the last six months perfecting the engine. Now that it’s running, we can sit in the back seat, because the car will drive anyway. If the data connection is there, the mapping is correct and the list of general ledger accounts is linked then it’s plug-in, data ingestion and: you have your report. It doesn’t matter whether you have 1 or 20 assets, the operation is exactly the same.”
Connecting new businesses in a scalable way
We wanted to move toward a way of working that avoids having to reinvent everything when we want to connect new companies. “The Smart Data Platform is a standardized, scalable solution. We need a super-fast car to drive, but we’ve spent the last six months perfecting the engine. Now that it’s running, we can sit in the back seat, because the car will drive anyway. If the data connection is there, the mapping is correct, and the list of general ledger accounts is linked then we can generate reports in no time. It doesn’t matter if you have one or twenty assets, the process is exactly the same.”
They understand our business
“For an analysis, though, a company must technically connect, and that is not straightforward because each company has its own systems and ways of reporting. The challenge is to turn this into a standard report as quickly as possible, so that management can make targeted decisions. We found out that one of the companies was working with Sybase; that doesn’t seem to match well with Azure. Ronald from Macaw’s team came up with a solution within days. That’s why I love working with Macaw. They just understand our business.”
Less time spent
Merging and reviewing assets used to take Viktor up to one full week. The local controller also had to copy and send data from Excels at least one day each month. That tedious, recurring work is now a thing of the past for Viktor and the local controller. Furthermore, Cube Cold Europe no longer has to wait until the last day of the last booking each month for insight. Now there is an overview in PowerBI every day. “We could even oversee it from minute to minute, but that is not necessary in our industry,” says Viktor.
Difficulties solved quickly
Many new companies have outsourced their IT. That sometimes does not make it easy to connect the right data sources, because you don’t get to the source directly. “But even then, Macaw comes up with a solution quickly. They told us to just have our IT-suppliers send them a .CSV file, and they converted it so that it’s automatically picked up and inserted appropriately. It’s a temporary workaround that just works.” For such a solution, Viktor does not need to contact Macaw. Program Manager René takes care of everything, to his complete satisfaction.
The honest story
“Rene and I have daily touch and I don’t have to explain anything to him.” Viktor is very pleased with how Macaw’s program manager helps keep an overview. “We are going so fast now that René sometimes has to hit the brakes and prioritize appropriately. If a software implementation is not Macaw’s core strength, he comes up with an honest story and looks for the right partner. In doing so, Macaw does keep control. Daring to say no, challenging and persevering, that is their strength.”
‘Macaw forces us to think’
Now that the financial reports are in place, Viktor and colleagues are outlining the operational customer reports, the next step. “At Macaw, they’re not going to blindly build what we come up with; they challenge us. I sometimes spend hours on the phone with Daniel from DevOps; conversations where I have to explain to him why do you build this report like this? This forces me to think again, resulting in better reports. When you are challenged like that, to me that means value creation.”
Templates save work
Turning multiple companies into one goes beyond reporting. It also requires a uniform way of working together. That is going to be Office 365 within one tenant, but with its own e-mail addresses for each subsidiary. “Macaw suggested that rather than looking at this on a case-by-case basis, we should write a scalable template for this. With more acquisitions coming up, that saves a lot of work and expense in the long run. “It’s a bigger investment initially, but we will quickly get a return on that investment with new assets that we need to connect. Thinking in scalable templates is smart, and that way we benefit from the knowledge Macaw has gained from other customers.”
Moving forward … thanks to the fast service deck
When all the subsidiary users are on the Cube Cold tenant, questions always come up. “I answer the initial questions, but if I don’t have the answer, I call in Macaw’s service desk. The coordination is always lightning fast and they call if something is unclear. Even if I am told last minute that a new employee wants to start work the same afternoon. Need a new account? Generally that’s taken care of within twenty minutes, and I don’t even have to indicate that it’s ‘urgent’.” Those of the advantages of Macaw’s Managed Services.
Ready for the future
The Smart Data Platform is built on Azure, Microsoft’s innovative cloud solution. Not only is the platform stable, scalable and efficient, it also offers many operational opportunities, for example through IoT. Cube Cold Europe naturally wants to use all its warehouses as efficiently as possible. Right now, the warehouses are full of cameras and other sensors so that they can determine the optimal occupancy rate and temperature. A next step within the Smart Data Platform with which Cube Cold Europe can also start planning.
Need a Smart Data Platform?
Viktor calls Macaw a driven Microsoft partner, helping and thinking along from due diligence through to creating reports. “Our shareholder started a new project and I immediately thought: they also need a Smart Data Platform. I showed him a demo and René from Macaw received an email shortly thereafter telling him to come and talk. Do you need a data platform with Power BI? If so, Macaw is the right choice! “