Obeikan Investment Group: a digital transformation journey

Digital transformation is daunting, stressful and trying for even the most seasoned business executives. Modern enterprises are under tremendous pressure to undergo this process to avoid being left in the past. Some have been successful, but many have not.

Obeikan Investment Group (OIG) is one of the successful ones. Established in 1982, this major manufacturing and distributions company has kept pace by continually providing sophisticated solutions for its customers and employees. Today, the Saudi Arabian-based company export to more than 75 countries with steady vertical and horizontal growth energised with strategic joint ventures with global market leaders.

Like many other manufacturers, OIG’s margins can not be increased by simply increasing the prices of its products. This is why, according to Mushtaq Khan, group IT director and head of digital transformation, at OIG, its transformation was driven by the desire to increase productivity and collaboration.

Killing Excel

Naturally, OIG made discovering and embracing emerging technologies that could improve processes a top priority. Its transformation also involved getting rid of old technologies.

“When I started here about six years ago there were too many Excel spreadsheets moving around the company; and too much paperwork,” he said.

The problem with spreadsheets, explained khan, was that they isolated departments from the rest of the organisation; this was making collaboration difficult.

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“In the last three years, we’ve ramped up our digital transformation. We started automating a lot of things, and importantly, are eliminating Excel.”

Ditching Excel has been no mean feat; according to Khan, it’s a hard pill for many employees to sponsor.

“We got a lot of resistance from people who had been working here for years. They were used to Excel; it was in their comfort zone,” said Khan. “To help them evolve, we gave our workers Office 365 F1 licences to get all their work online.” From this, they could more easily migrate to different systems.

Connecting systems

“I have also set up a separate department for RPA in IT. Five people are now dedicated to working on it full time. So far, we’ve used UiPath to automate processes across finance, HR, sales, engineering and supply chain.”

The reason OIG has done this: to connect systems together and allow for a more holistic view of the business.

Integrating workflows is central to OIG’s strategy. Recently, OIG deployed Infor LN in an attempt to streamline two-way collaboration of procurement, performance, and billing information with its suppliers.

“We were in search of a solution that would integrate data across our major operations to increase operational excellence and enhance service levels to our large customer base,” commented Abdullah Obeikan, group CEO, OIG.

OIG hopes this partnership will transform its supply chain and support its ability to make decisions rapidly across the entire spectrum of its operations in the region, allowing to improved customer experience.

Connecting the dots in the hybrid data management arena

As more data is produced from an increasing number of sources, the need to manage that data in a flexible, real-time environment becomes a necessity

Later this year, Obeikan Investment Group will also start using Infor’s Supplier Exchange and Supply Chain Planning solutions. OIG hopes to be able to attain greater visibility of its inbound shipments and improve its tracking from dispatch through onsite receipt. In the future, this solution could support the redistribution of excess inventory to other locations within the network.

Last year, OIG partnered with and Microsoft Arabia to implement best practices in the sales field and ‘demand forecasting’. OIG says this will lead to improved sales processes and consolidate its relationship with customers by better analysing and managing its data.

By implementing the group’s digital transformation plan, Microsoft Arabia and OIG will set up a long-term initiative to develop packaging operations and create smarter processes at lower costs and keep pace with competitors.

The partnership will also bring together Obeikan Investment Group’s expertise in education services and Microsoft’s latest digital innovations to build digital classroom models and support innovative curricula.

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Andrew Ross

As a reporter with Information Age, Andrew Ross writes articles for technology leaders; helping them manage business critical issues both for today and in the future

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Digital Transformation