IBM helps Unilever take its Business to the Web

Kurt Peters

Global consumer goods company to implement powerful Cross-Enterprise Collaboration Solution from IBM to support its Business to Business relationships.

London, United Kingdom -- June 12 2003 - IBM today announced that it is rolling out a multi-million dollar global Web-based collaboration platform for Unilever, one of the world`s most successful consumer goods companies. The Unilever Global hub will enable faster and more efficient communication with customers, suppliers, electronic exchanges and marketplaces. It will also facilitate connectivity for the company`s internal applications.

Unilever operates in more than a hundred countries on five continents using various Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) standards and Value-added Networks (VAN`s). The company wanted to achieve closer collaboration with all sections of the Value Chain in order to increase revenue and maximise competitive advantage.

The new IBM solution addresses two major areas, providing a common data infrastructure for Unilever`s global operations, and enhancing its relationships with trading partners. It enables Unilever to improve efficiency, reach new markets and enhance the traditional EDI approach. The intention is to drive efficiency and effectiveness through an end-to-end solution which has been developed specifically to handle the unique needs of the global Consumer Packaged Goods company. The end result is increased business capability through leading edge technology initiatives.

Integral to the one platform is IBM Websphere Integration suite and features its trading gateway. Websphere harnesses the power of e-business enterprise collaboration technology to help companies like Unilever integrate with suppliers and customers and speed products to market.

"Implementing a successful private exchange is a complex process," says Alain Benichou, Vice President IBM Distribution Sector EMEA. "It involves multiple links with trading partners, including Web-enabled back-end systems and integrated business processes across a host of disparate applications and technologies. By creating a specific offering in partnership with Unilever, we are rolling out a one-to-many Web-based trading network that gives the company a flexible and efficient gateway for B2B collaboration and a world class supply chain."

"Not only was it unwieldy and expensive to run many different systems across the world, but we needed to find an option which would meet our needs well into the future in a cost effective way", says Peter Slator, Head of IT at Unilever. "The Unilever Private Exchange built on IBM technology gives us the external connectivity we need with our business partners while taking into account the particular complexities of our international business."

Research has shown that 15% of all Fortune 2000 companies have set up private exchanges, with a further 28% expected to follow suit by the end of 2003. During the next three years, private exchanges are expected to garner up to 90% of new investment in marketplace infrastructure. To benefit, suppliers will have to assess their supply chain power and technical capabilities and then decide whether to join existing exchanges or build their own.

About Unilever

Unilever is one of the world`s largest consumer products companies with annual sales of approximately €48 billion in 2002. It produces and markets a wide range of foods and home and personal care products. Unilever has operations in around 100 countries around the globe, sells its products in about 150 and employs approximately 250,000 people. Its portfolio of global and local brands aligned under 2 Divisions: Foods and Home & Personal Care (HPC) include Knorr soups, sauces and bouillons; Lipton tea-based beverages; Hellmann`s mayonnaise and dressings; Wall`s, Iglo, Breyer`s Good Humor and Ben & Jerry`s ice cream products; Slim-Fast nutritional and health snack products; Surf laundry detergents; Snuggle and Comfort fabric softeners; Dove, Lux, Pond`s and Vaseline skin care, deodorant and soap products; Mentadent, Signal and Close Up oral care products; Sunsilk hair care products; Calvin Klein, Vera Wang and Lagerfeld prestige fragrance products.

About IBM

IBM, the world`s largest information technology company with 80 years of helping businesses innovate, provides the Retail and Consumer Packaged Goods industries with a full range of e-business solutions, including: hardware and software technology; consulting focused on business transformation, IT strategy and planning, operations improvement, and supply chain optimization, and with services, such as outsourcing, managed operations, systems integration, and application development and design. For more information on IBM`s solutions for the Consumer Packaged Goods industry, please visit http://www.ibm.com/industries/cpg.


Electronic Data Interchange, Fast moving consumer goods, Hindustan Unilever, IBM, LeanLogistics