Bridgestone, the global leader in tire and rubber manufacturing, is undergoing a significant digital transformation. As part of their strategic transition, the company launched "Bridgestone 3.0" in 2020 – a comprehensive initiative that places a significant emphasis on leading the industry in sustainable mobility and advanced solutions. With its headquarters situated in Tokyo, Bridgestone operates on a global scale, employing over 130,000 people and conducting business across more than 150 countries.
While Bridgestone is widely known for their consumer products, it is often overlooked that they operate using a vertically integrated business model, controlling multiple stages of its production process and supply chain including raw materials to retail. This lesser-known aspect, along with their focus on solutions, has prompted Bridgestone to adopt a dynamic data-centric approach to scale the business across their multiple verticals.
Leading this digital transformation is Jason Beyer, Vice President of Data & Analytics at Bridgestone Americas. He is an experienced executive with more than 24 years of experience leading diverse global teams in automotive, industrial manufacturing, construction, medical device, retail and government industries. Jason recently spoke with Ben Blanquera, VP at Rackspace Technology and CDO Magazine Global Editorial Board Member, about the challenges of managing one of the world’s largest integrated data infrastructures and the task of scaling via across-team coordination.
- The secrets of highly successful data analytics teams – Identify a clear charter and mission
- Data-driven success rests on the shoulders of a strong sponsor – This is crucial in providing clarity on business priorities
- Having a systematic framework to evaluate your team – This factor is vital for achieving success
Under Beyer's leadership, the company is reimagining its approach to data assets, with a focus on exploring new avenues for leveraging information. This encompasses not only bringing products to market but also extending to the aftermarket. Beyer envisions a comprehensive integration of data, incorporating factors such as vehicle performance, road service conditions, fleet management and maintenance. With over 2,200 points of sale under management, Bridgestone possesses a substantial data asset that can be optimized to enhance customer and consumer experiences while delivering solutions that maximize mobility for all.
Bridgestone’s “Theater of Operation”
For Beyer, it was essential to establish a robust analytics team in order to fully harness the value of their information resources. He emphasized the significance of defining the data program's direction, goals, and its mission prior to its formation. He structured his team around three core strategies:
- Simplifying enterprise-wide data connectivity by breaking down silos across various businesses and functions. Beyer says treating all data as ‘valuable enterprise assets’ unlocks opportunities and enhances collaboration between different entities.
- Establishing a strong talent framework and fostering a culture that promotes the widespread adoption of data skills within the organization. “This enables skill development, creates career pathways and drives the attainment of higher levels of maturity and capability,” according to Beyer.
- Accelerating value creation within the organization by implementing strategies to enhance overall agility. These efforts, according to Beyer, focus on enabling the company to move faster and more efficiently, fostering innovation and driving growth.
Beyer highlights the significance of the "value creation" strategy as the cornerstone of Bridgestone 3.0's success. He outlines four key areas: sponsorship, demand management, data speed and embedded teams – which serve as crucial pathways for the company's strategic growth.
The role of a program sponsor
The program sponsor plays a crucial role in providing clarity on business priorities, organizational roadmaps and strategic objectives. Aligning the deliverables of data governance with these priorities ensures their relevance and helps identify any shifts in priorities that may occur. According to Beyer, the absence of a clear program sponsor often results in the failure or incomplete adoption of many data analytics projects. “To ensure success of a data program, it is crucial to have clear upfront sponsorship, understand your stakeholders, and assess their readiness, engagement and willingness to embrace the framework,” Beyer says.
Making smarter choices with Demand Management
Demand management serves as a planning methodology employed by companies to forecast and strategize how to meet the demand for their services and products. According to Beyer, “by implementing demand management, organizations can enhance the alignment between their operations and marketing functions, leading to improved coordination of strategy capacity, and customer requirements.”
At Bridgestone for example, sustainability has always been part of the company’s strategy and focus, but it's come more into the forefront in their business model. According to Beyer, recognizing the significance of the company's sustainability mission, they proactively invested early on to attain their goal of adopting a data-driven approach.
Harnessing data speed for results-driven strategies
Beyer places great importance on a dual-speed approach as the third step in assessing value. The first aspect pertains to the speed of the organization, where quick delivery of results, timely insights and efficient access to data are crucial. The second aspect involves designing long-term capabilities and establishing an integrated reference architecture that connects various elements and fosters gradual maturation over time.
Bridgestone has embraced a fundamental principle in their operating model, which involves fostering a pervasive presence of data and analytics skillsets throughout the organization. As part of my role and the responsibilities of my team, we are committed to coaching, developing and fostering these skillsets within every business and functional domain. Our aim extends beyond building solutions for them; we strive to collaborate and co-create with each unit. Moreover, we actively work towards fostering a culture of data and analytics within each business unit and function, consistently nurturing, and expanding these capabilities.
Beyer says, “So through all four of those steps, it's helped us to narrow down those value cases but also really target in what is the realistic value that can be achieved and applied and adopted.”
According to Beyer, the transition to Bridgestone 3.0 and the establishment of his data team resembled the challenges of a startup. He emphasizes the deliberate approach taken towards developing and shaping the talent and culture strategy. This involved a deep understanding of each team member's strengths and identifying those areas where they would excel. Another significant insight, as highlighted by Beyer, was striking a balance between the rapid delivery of value and maintaining a long-term vision for the organization.
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About the Authors
VP - Evangelist and Senior Architect
Ben is VP-Evangelist and Senior Architect with Rackspace Technology. He works with enterprises, architecting solutions to enable them to drive business outcomes through thriving in a multicloud world. He is a 35-year veteran in multiple industries including health care, manufacturing, and technology consulting. Prior to Rackspace, Ben was with Covail, a leading-edge provider of AI/ML and cybersecurity services to Fortune 1000 clients. At Covail, Ben was VP of Delivery and transitioned to VP of Revenue and Client Success. A recognized technology leader, Ben was named a Premier 100 leader by Computerworld. Outside of work, he loves to travel, ride his bike, and spend time with his wife and four daughters. He is an active organizer in the tech community and curates the Central Ohio CIO forum (150+ CIOs) and founded Techlife Columbus. Ben also serves on the Pitch Advisory Board for South by Southwest and the Editorial Board for CDO Magazine.Read more about Ben Blanquera