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ASK Chemicals Establishes a Digital Business Model with a Cloud-Based ERP from Aptean at the Core
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ASK Chemicals Establishes a Digital Business Model with a Cloud-Based ERP from Aptean at the Core
9 Mar 2023John McCurdy
As a leading global supplier of phenolic resins for the foundry and industrial markets, ASK Chemicals serves a broad and diverse array of clients around the world. Headquartered in Dusseldorf, Germany, the business’s footprint expands far further, with more than 2,000 employees worldwide and 18 production facilities that contributed to a 2022 turnover of approximately €840 million.
The company’s history is long, as the entity that would eventually become ASK Chemicals was founded in 1917 by Werner G. Smith in Cleveland, Ohio. Originally specializing in blending natural oils with solvents and driers for application in foundries, the organization grew over time both organically and through mergers and acquisitions, going international in 1967 and adopting the current name in 1975.
But by 2015, the status quo of merging the data of many facilities in different countries—each with a mix of on-premise installations and best-of-breed software—into one global operational base was showing its flaws. The leadership team identified poor performance, a lack of scalability leading to higher costs, suboptimal cybersecurity, delayed response times and other platform limitations that held back efforts to innovate as the main challenges.
So, Christian Dusek, CIO, spearheaded an effort to define a new cloud-first strategy going forward along with ASK Chemicals’ board members. He had a vision that put cloud-based ERP technology at the core of the company’s new digital business model, and the shareholders bought in on the idea and gave the go-ahead.
“We at ASK Chemicals believe totally in digitalization,” Dusek said. “We believe that is one of the most important drivers for a company’s value.”
That said, the focus was ongoing about the process strategically and deliberately, with thought to the overall structure of the company’s tech stack and how it would impact user experience.
“It’s very important to understand digitalization is a marathon, it’s not a sprint,” Dusek said. “But it will drive innovation, and this is mandatory if you want your company to compete in the long run. And this transition is impacting all industries and your customers—wherever you are, it touches you.”
Cloud-Based ERP from Aptean: Serving as the Backbone of a Modern Tech Stack
At the outset, Dusek and the ASK Chemicals board laid out the key objectives of the organization’s digital transformation initiative. They aimed to save on costs, increase operational efficiency, facilitate innovation, boost performance, enhance cybersecurity and improve the user experience. Together they concluded that a cloud-based ERP from Aptean would make for the ideal foundation.
“For ASK, we were very clear that it is a cloud ERP environment that is our enabler to deliver to our customers with an innovative digital business model,” Dusek said. “It always starts with a modern, open ERP architecture and business process platform.”
The business went with a preconfigured setup that will drive innovation, improve efficiency and enhance customer experience while also minimizing total cost of ownership. Ensuring flexible remote accessibility, eliminating customizations and leveraging embedded functionalities to full potential were also on the list of top priorities, which made a cloud-based ERP from Aptean truly the best fit for the circumstances.
“It’s very important to understand digitalization is a marathon, it’s not a sprint. But it will drive innovation, and this is mandatory if you want your company to compete in the long run. And this transition is impacting all industries and your customers—wherever you are, it touches you.”
Advanced Analytics and Business Intelligence: Maximizing the Value of Data
Dusek and other ASK Chemicals leaders also have a keen awareness of the importance of information, so they prioritized using Aptean’s cloud-based ERP solution to harmonize their global data and create a central repository for the entire organization. They also knew how important it was to engage with analytics—not just static reports—and appreciated the robust nature of the software’s Business Intelligence (BI) features.
“Our analytics platform is there to be the bridge between our multiplatform landscape and helps us understand real-time manufacturing information,” Dusek said. “Getting this combined with smart BI dashboards that are standardized and easy for everyone to understand helps us leverage insights.”
Now, the business’s fully digital data warehouse strategy is centered on getting the most out of data. The internal team has defined the key performance indicators (KPIs) based on best practices and ensured that ERP data is combined with that from other sources so that everyone can see the full picture and dig deep into the details to leverage the latest facts and figures to the fullest extent.
“Digital transformation shouldn’t be disruptive for your business. It should be additive. It provides your teams with additional tools to better serve customers.”
A Cohesive and Empowered Workforce: Fostering Culture with Technology
Dusek recognizes that establishing an up-to-date tech stack is an important step in securing ASK Chemicals’ future stability and continuity, especially considering ongoing labor shortages and the expectations held by younger workers that employers will provide advanced technological solutions for today’s challenges.
“It’s not only about the money—it’s also a matter of whether you as a company are able to attract candidates with a digital environment,” Dusek said. “It makes a business that much more desirable to work for. And with digitalization, it’s so important to have the right resources, skillsets and talent on board.”
Indeed, ASK Chemicals as an organization has kept the people and processes at the heart of its efforts, as leadership knows that those are the elements that contribute the most to a healthy company culture.
“What really counts is getting buy-in from your team members, establishing a common mindset and an understanding of why you need to make a transition,” Dusek said.
reduction in computing costs realized by ASK Chemicals thanks to cloud ERP implementation
Major Benefits Realized: Delivering Results and Creating Momentum
As the digitalization process moved forward and various phases have come to fruition, the organization has unlocked significant benefits. The cloud deployment has helped ASK Chemicals achieve best-in-class scalability, improved customer service, elimination of latency issues, stronger cybersecurity and reliably excellent user experience.
It’s also led to a 20 to 30% reduction in computing expenditures, which is particularly significant given the rising cost of doing business in today’s changing economic conditions. What’s more, advanced data protection capabilities are helping to maintain operational continuity despite more frequent market disruptions.
“We now have a really good platform to work on digital business models and continue to fuel our digitalization,” Dusek said.
The company has also established a new security operations center in Tallinn, Estonia, as part of a new era of transformation. Leadership is confident that they’ve created a model that will promote innovation while keeping the organization’s core strong, facilitating integrations with additional solutions down the road and easing the transitions that further M&A activity may necessitate.
“It all comes down to the importance of investing in your future,” Dusek said.
“It’s not only about the money—it’s also a matter of whether you as a company are able to attract candidates with a digital environment. It makes a business that much more desirable to work for. And with digitalization, it’s so important to have the right resources, skillsets and talent on board.”
Best Practice Advice: Sharing Words of Wisdom
Throughout the digitalization journey, Dusek knew that some doubts and trepidations would emerge, but he was confident in the vision and that faith was well-founded. He made a point to find internal team members who could act as “champions” for the initiative and technologies involved, and those individuals made a big difference in getting everyone on board.
Together, they drove a strong message.
“Digital transformation shouldn’t be disruptive for your business,” Dusek said. “It should be additive. It provides your teams with additional tools to better serve customers.”
The process of migrating data to the cloud might seem challenging, but in reality the obstacles can be mitigated by emphasizing collaboration and working with an experienced and dedicated solution provider like Aptean. And in the end, the move will prove to be a prudent step for fueling success going forward.
“Isolated on-premise technology is a roadblock for seamless integration,” Dusek said. “If you don’t have a cloud setup, you won’t have that real-time exchange of information you need.”
Sticking with the status quo could be a costly mistake, given the rate of change and need for advanced, versatile technology in the modern business world.
“If you don’t start investing in cloud-native infrastructure and establish that as your backbone, you will never be able to really have a digital core, which is fundamental for getting the right processes in place,” Dusek said.
A Proven Provider: Trusting Aptean for Your Cloud-Based Software Needs
The case of ASK Chemicals and the digital business model the company has created with a cloud-based ERP at the core is solid evidence that the underlying strategy is strong. But as much as that is true, it’s also evident that Aptean as a provider has both the approach and software that modern companies need to achieve the same success in similar initiatives.
For starters, consider our teams’ extensive experience in the markets that our solutions serve—that includes chemicals and industrial manufacturing, but also food and beverage; fashion and apparel; process manufacturing; and more. That’s helped us build software that is truly tailored to the very specific real-world challenges that businesses in these sectors face, as we know your pain points and how to apply technology and best practices to overcome them.
What’s more, we take a collaborative mindset when it comes to system implementation, helping our customers create a roadmap to their digital transformation destination. Our dedicated professionals will be there to assist as necessary as we move forward together toward a successful rollout of your new solution and the establishment of a modern digital business core.
Finally, choosing Aptean comes with the additional benefit that we can be the one provider you need for an optimized tech stack. Beyond our robust cloud-based ERPs, we also offer complementary software for overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), enterprise asset management (EAM), product lifecycle management (PLM) and transportation management.
Now, if you’re ready to learn more about Aptean’s cloud-based ERPs, our other cloud software and how we can help you create a full digital transformation strategy to ensure your business’s future, contact us today. You can also reach out to request a personalized demo to see the software in action.
Watch our webinar with Christian Dusek, CIO of ASK Chemicals, on-demand to hear the story straight from the source.
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