Iconic Fashion Brand Marc O’Polo Unlocks Business Transformation with SAP on AWS
“As well as growing the business, we want to be the most sustainable premium fashion brand you can imagine, and that goes for the technical stuff too—not oversizing or using more energy than we need to. Using AWS to scale and descale according to demand will help get us there.”
Steffen Sandner, Director, Digital Intelligence, Marc O’Polo
Iconic fashion brand Marc O’Polo has ambitious growth and sustainability goals and is seeking to instill a ‘global mindset’ at the company through an extensive change program. As a major part of this journey, Marc O’Polo has turned to AWS to support its move away from on-premises systems and the workflow siloes they created. This move began with a greenfield SAP ERP system running on AWS, which was built and delivered in just 2 months.
Iconic fashion brand Marc O’Polo has become well-established in over 60 markets since it opened for business in 1967. Over half a century later, the Swedish-German company has plans to more than double annual revenues to €1 billion, increase its use of natural materials from 70 percent to 100 percent, and to achieve these targets in ways that are sustainable in terms of supply chain, business risk, and energy consumption.
The ambitious change program reaches deep into the heart of the organization and aims to create an international mindset within the company. This involves a switch to English as the default language for the business, system changes at every level, and a greenfield approach to technology, a journey which it is making using AWS.
“Quite naturally, we’d built our technology around our sales channels—primarily the retail and the wholesale parts of the business,” says Patric Spethmann, chief operating officer, Marc O’Polo. “But there was no doubt that this legacy system created siloes and was a blocker to us scaling the business. This had to change if we were to achieve our goals.”
Picking the Right Team
Marc O’Polo was managing multiple on-premises legacy ERP systems that consumed considerable resources to maintain and operate. The way the company’s technology was structured had resulted in many parallel workflows and duplicated processes. These needed to be unified to achieve the greater efficiency, interoperability, and mindset that the company needed to achieve its goals.
Marc O’Polo’s direct-to-consumer stack was already running on AWS, so it was logical to build on that in-house knowledge and experience to host the ERP system. The company needed to build up the entire greenfield estate within 3 months and have the first SAP development in just 2 months. The project included a new SAP license and an SAP HANA database.
The company chose to work with AWS Premier Consulting Partner Lemongrass, because of its long-term experience in SAP on AWS migrations, its competitive pricing with scale-out approach for greenfield systems, the ability to deliver in a tight timeframe, and the automation provided by its Lemongrass Cloud Platform (LCP).
“We were impressed by the way that Lemongrass approached migration projects, which was to do them fast,” says Steffen Sandner, director, digital intelligence, Marc O’Polo. “They also aligned to our own preferred way of working, so the cultural fit was good.”
Early Business Benefits
An early benefit of this ongoing process is that the Marc O’Polo cloud development team found a way of connecting the SAP system to everything that surrounds it using native AWS tools. This supports the company’s overall change program and could not have been achieved in the previous on-premises arrangement.
A further early benefit of the new environment was that capacity was scaled in a single day to overcome a development problem that would have previously taken several weeks to solve. “Before, we would have had to buy all the hardware and check it was working properly, a process that would have taken weeks,” says Sandner.
In terms of API management, virtualization of SAP on AWS is something new to the fashion industry. Interconnecting systems for products, orders, customer data, warehousing, shop systems, and CRM, opens new possibilities for the company in terms of performance, agility, and efficiency.
With only one connection per system, as opposed to multiple APIs operating in each system, Marc O’Polo is looking at a future where they will be able to launch new features in a fast, coordinated, and straightforward way—capabilities that are prerequisites to the company achieving its wider growth and sustainability objectives.
Building Fast, Handing Over Steadily
The greenfield estate meant changes for the Marc O’Polo IT workforce, which had previously built up and monitored its own servers. Motivating these staff members towards the cloud was the biggest internal challenge in the 2-month build period for the Marc O’Polo technology leadership team. Fortunately, the team was able to take ownership of the new environment piece-by-piece, sharing the responsibility with AWS and Lemongrass as Marc O’Polo steadily took more control.
With the production system in place, the following months were (and are still) about customizing SAP within the new environment and connecting all the Marc O’Polo systems to each other. But the road ahead for a more enterprise-ready business, free of siloes, with a ‘global mindset’ across the board, is now clear.
“We’re a company proud of its achievements and heritage,” says Sandner. “As well as growing the business, we want to be the most sustainable premium fashion brand you can imagine, and that goes for the technical stuff too—not oversizing or using more energy than we need to. Using AWS to scale and descale according to demand will help get us there.”
- Supporting organization-wide change program
- Marc O’Polo can innovate more quickly
- More efficient use of IT resources, including shorter software release cycles
- Reduce maintenance tasks to focus on higher-value tasks
Services Used: Amazon EC2, Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS), Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3)