Company

12 October 2022

“An impressive IT team”

Christoph Eltze, Chief Digital and Technology Officer, on the importance of a dynamic IT organisation for competition and transformation processes.
Reading time: 7 min.

Mr Eltze, REWE digital and REWE Systems are merging to create a single IT unit. What challenges does this pose? And what opportunities does it create?

Christoph Eltze: It is clear that digitisation and the proliferation of technology are becoming increasingly important in the retail sector. In order to compete, businesses need a successful, well-organised technology unit.

Within our German organisation’s food retail business, we had two IT divisions. Both had the goal of creating an outstanding shopping experience for customers. REWE Systems’ background is in conventional store-based retail, while REWE digital was founded to advance the Group’s e-commerce activities. Customer centricity is the common strand that unites the two. In view of our omnichannel strategy, which sees us combining our store-based and online retail operations, it is only logical that the two units will work together more closely in the future.

What exactly does this mean for the business partners within the REWE Group?

Christoph Eltze: First of all, it is already the case that REWE digital and REWE Systems have been collaborating on projects more often. The Pick & Go store in Cologne and Scan & Go are the best-known examples, but there are many others. This experience has shown us that we can collaborate even more effectively with our business partners and implement ideas in a more targeted manner by merging REWE Systems and REWE digital.

The focus is on the customers and user-centricity.

Christoph Eltze, Member of the Management Board – Chief Digital and Technology Officer
Christoph Eltze
Christoph Eltze, Member of the Management Board – Chief Digital and Technology Officer

What specific expertise do REWE Systems and REWE digital offer respectively? To put it another way, how do REWE Systems and REWE digital complement each other? Where do you see the greatest potential for synergies at this initial stage?

Christoph Eltze: REWE Systems is the IT organisation which helped to build and advance the German food retail business. We therefore have significant in-depth knowledge of the processes in this area. Furthermore, Systems has modernised its structures and processes in recent years and has undergone restructuring in order to tackle the ever-changing challenges of the IT sector.

REWE digital’s background is completely different. It was set up in 2014 with the aim of creating a new IT landscape for the digital omnichannel business. Its work has been product-oriented from the outset. In the IT environment, this means that the focus is on the customers and user-centricity.

The two IT units therefore both have different backgrounds and a different technical focus, but their product-oriented, agile organisational structure is now the same, ensuring that they can collaborate on technical issues on the basis of these common structures.

In light of the clear differences in the historical background of these units, what is the role of cultural change in this transformation process?

Christoph Eltze: It is perfectly normal to have cultural differences within each company. However, as the units begin to collaborate more often and more closely, it will be increasingly important for the individuals to share a common understanding of working methods. Particularly in the case of agile working methods, we must ensure that we achieve a common definition of core values. From my perspective, a lot of that is down to getting to know each other and being open.

We can collaborate even more effectively with our business partners and implement ideas in a more targeted manner by merging REWE Systems and REWE digital.

By merging REWE Systems and REWE digital, we will be able to work even better together with our business partners and implement ideas in a more targeted manner.

What are the implications of this cultural transformation in terms of the IT units’ effectiveness?

Christoph Eltze: As I said, people who work together have to communicate with each other with the goal of improving and collaborating in a spirit of mutual trust. Ultimately, we are all becoming part of an awesome, collaborative IT team. It is crucial that we work together and collaborate to achieve an even better outcome for the IT units themselves, for our business partners in the company and, ultimately of course, for our customers.

We believe that now is the right time for the two IT organisations to become more closely aligned.

Christoph Eltze, Member of the Management Board – Chief Digital and Technology Officer
Christoph Eltze
Christoph Eltze, Member of the Management Board – Chief Digital and Technology Officer

How will the REWE Group benefit from this transformation? What potential does the close collaboration between the two IT units bring to the whole REWE Group and its units?

Christoph Eltze: We are joining forces and increasing our efficiency. We believe that technology is a crucial factor in the success of the entire company. It ensures that our core business remains competitive. Pick & Go is just one oft-cited example of the results that can be achieved when REWE Systems and REWE digital collaborate constructively. In the end, there are many parameters that we can tweak in order to improve product availability and our forecasting and logistics tools.

It is also clear that if we are stronger overall and act together as a more efficient unit, this will make us a more attractive employer.

Above all, however, our focus is on the customer experience. We must adopt a smart approach to combining our understanding of what customers want with the right technology so that we continually improve the shopping experience.

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