Manufacturing

 

Brown-Forman, maker of iconic brands like Jack Daniel’s and Woodford Reserve, built its business on time-honored practices like slow-aging and handcrafted spirits. But its future increasingly rides on harnessing the same technologies transforming businesses everywhere.

Brown-Forman has built 50+ apps — from a retail execution app to a vendor onboarding app to an HR Social Intranet app. They even have an app for their quality control specialists to manage the process of inspecting each new barrel of whiskey.

Company leaders chose Force.com because of its ease of use and the way it integrates with everything else. “If you’re going to continue to help your company grow, you need to be agile,” said Tim Nall, Brown-Forman’s CIO. “Force.com allows us to quickly build something and get it in front of somebody, and then iterate on it rapidly.”

One of the first successes was the My B-F app, a mobile social intranet that connects thousands of Brown-Forman employees around the world. Built on Force.com and launched in just three months, it quickly became a personalized hub for collaboration around the world.

Because Chatter is integrated with My B-F, employees can personalize the apps they want to go to and which tabs and information appear at login. “People who sell Jack Daniel’s in Germany learn from those who are selling it in Australia and vice versa,” said Nall. “And this can now happen in real time. People can interact and share ideas and information with people they never may have met in the past. And for Brown-Forman, that’s extremely powerful.”

 

As CIO, I can now add value to our marketing organization, our commercial org, our production org — all by leveraging a single platform.”

Building on this experience, Brown-Forman’s IT team has delivered innovative apps for employees, distributors, and customers that have empowered its global business in new ways. One example is Wombat, a mission-critical app originally created five years ago as an offline application. Because field reps were often visiting accounts that were far afield, it was important to give them access to core information on their tablets even when they had no internet connectivity.

Brown-Forman is also reaching customers directly with programs like the By the Barrel app that invites consumers the opportunity to hand-select their own barrel of special Brown-Forman spirits like Jack Daniel’s or Woodford Reserve. Fans can then personalize the labels on bottles, receive a detailed provenance, and even keep the empty barrel as a souvenir, complete with an engraved plaque.

So what began as an investment in a platform for building apps has evolved into a company-wide strategy that touches on every aspect of the business. “What surprised us was the breadth of what Salesforce offers,” said Nall. “As CIO, I can now add value to our marketing organization, our commercial org, our production org — all by leveraging a single platform.”

 

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