I spent ninety percent of my money on wine, women and song and just wasted the other ten percent.
I’m fortunate to have come into “tech” after a 15-year stint in the wine business. I managed wine programs for several restaurants during my engineering studies and then spent a decade selling wine and spirits for a distributor. I like to believe that the experience has given me “range.” Nearly my entire family is in the wine business in one way or another. My wonderful wife works for an importer of Italian and South American wines (we met as wholesale competitors). My brother is a Master Sommelier at a midsized wine distributor. My wife’s brother works for a large distributor selling wine to ski resorts, and my in-laws own a very successful wine and spirits store. Family get-togethers are pretty interesting.
I can understand how it’s easy to view the wine business through romance-tinted glasses. The long lunches and dinners served with rare bottles from who-knows-where are intoxicating – so to speak. However, although it’s a helluva lifestyle, it’s just not quite sustainable. It’s also only a very small part of what it takes to be successful in wine. Wineries and distributors need to control inventories and track shipments. Pricing needs to be managed to enable appropriate margins throughout the value chain. Marketing programs need to be implemented and measured to determine their efficacy. And finally, consumer demand (and the consumer profile) is always changing. According to Rabobank’s RaboResearch, older drinkers are spending more, women under 25 are drinking more, and underage drinking has fallen off a cliff. To be successful in the wine business, you need to navigate all this (in addition to producing an excellent product) better than the other guy. Stores and restaurants have only so much space; they can’t carry everything. Shelf space and wine lists are finite resources. If you want to grow your business, someone else’s business will need to shrink – it’s cutthroat out there.
Marchesi Antinori is a good example of the need for “operational excellence” in order to continue their 600-year-plus legacy. Antinori is the seventh largest wine producer in Italy, and the most profitable. The company helped to establish the category of Super Tuscan wines in the 1970s with their Tignanello bottling. Antinori is also a user of Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne suite of products. They slashed the time it takes for forecasting, report generation, and processing of shipments (all things that affect profitability) by modernizing their ERP systems.
NetApp knows a thing or two about making transformational improvements in database performance, along with their associated applications. For example, a logistics company with more than 70,000 employees wanted to modernize its Oracle environments, which were similar to Antinori’s. The $17B company looked to NetApp for a simple, easy to manage infrastructure (like FlexPod) that would help them to design a path to the cloud to when they’re ready.