AWS for Industries

CPG Partner Conversations: Lemongrass’s cloud-native approach fuels CPG companies

The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented disruption to businesses and global markets. Now, most of the world appears to be past the uncertainty and turbulence of the pandemic. However, companies, especially in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, continue to deal with major challenges, like supply chain disruptions and labor shortages. At the same time, consumer buying patterns and expectations that shifted during the pandemic have become the norm.

Now more than ever, CPG leaders must think strategically, with an eye toward innovation and agility, to address the continued market volatility and shifting consumer preferences. To gain insight and inspiration, we’ve embarked on a series of conversations with executives from Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) Partners to showcase their leadership and expertise in challenging times.

In the latest installment of our CPG Partner Conversations blog series, we talked to Raman Yousefi, SVP AWS Practice at Lemongrass, a leading provider of solutions to modernize and automate SAP systems on hyperscale cloud. In this blog, Raman shares his views on the importance of cloud technologies in driving business agility and sustainability in response to evolving consumer expectations.

AWS: Help our readers understand your vantage point. What’s the space you play in, and with what type of CPG executives does Lemongrass interact?

Raman Yousefi: CPG companies are under pressure to approach an increasingly savvy consumer in new ways. Much of this involves leveraging internal and external data to predict buying patterns and target marketing, sales, and production budgets accordingly. We enable CPG customers using our platform to operate their enterprise resource planning (ERP) environments in a highly agile, cloud-native manner. This in turn enables them to use cloud-native tools to experiment and ultimately monetize their SAP and non-SAP data.

AWS: CPG companies have been managing through unprecedented disruption. What have been the biggest challenges for your customers?

Raman Yousefi: With the fluctuations in consumer buying habits in recent years, companies have had to respond quickly without launching expensive IT projects. This has challenged the ability of organizations to access data across multiple silos and create a more elastic IT infrastructure and labor pool. Hence the rapid adoption of public cloud over the last few years. The shift has also driven unique growth opportunities for some of our clients. A good example is Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC), which in the past two years has experienced rapidly growing demand for its physical and digital products and services as the industry welcomed nearly 16 million new players in the U.S. alone. Lemongrass enabled FMIC to continue operating its SAP systems while at the same time migrating them to AWS, allowing the company to elastically scale its systems to meet this surge in demand.

AWS: How do you see CPG companies adjusting their current operating environments to changing market dynamics and consumer expectations?

Raman Yousefi: In response to their own initiatives, as well as those of their competitors, CPG firms are finding that only the agile will survive. One interesting trend that is driving consumer expectations is sustainability, which has fueled the need to implement technologies that drive sustainable transformation. Our client Florida Crystals Corporation (FCC) is a good example of this. FCC is the only producer of certified organic sugar 100% produced in the United States and the only brand to have earned the distinctive Regenerative Organic Certified status. FCC took a cloud-first approach for its enterprise applications and IT operations. They chose to move to hyperscale cloud to deliver financial value and application consolidation while also laying a foundation for future innovations. By moving its SAP systems to AWS, the business can be more efficient and agile—aligning the company’s IT strategy with its sustainability goals.

AWS: The CPG industry is incredibly resilient. As you look toward the new normal, what role do technology and the cloud play for CPGs? How do you see technology enhancing the way CPGs make, move, or market their products?

Raman Yousefi: Technology is enabling shorter design cycles by enabling collaboration across global teams, simplifying testing, and better capturing consumer feedback. The movement of products through the global supply chain would not even be possible without the technology that we enable. CPG companies are also using technology to get closer to their customers with IT-driven mobile solutions, enhanced data analytics, supply chain improvements, and AI. There are also ways that customers will consume products in the coming years that are not yet in the market, such as drones, autonomous deliveries, and more.

AWS: With the current CPG industry disruption, how is your company innovating to respond to changes?

Raman Yousefi: As our customers shift the focus of their IT organizations to addressing business use cases, such as inventory visibility and demand planning, we provide them with the agility and dependability of a cloud-based automation platform. Lemongrass Cloud Platform (LCP) is a governance, monitoring, and automation solution that enables the optimized operations of SAP workloads on the cloud. Utilizing automation, SAP and hyperscale cloud best practices, and collective customer experience, LCP streamlines SAP on Cloud operations, simplifies the implementation of additional cloud capabilities, and significantly improves the SAP user experience. This also allows us to better integrate cloud-native services such as Amazon Redshift. Many customers take this a step further—for example, by integrating their SAP environment with AI/ML [artificial intelligence/machine learning] capabilities in the cloud to expedite invoice processing (Amazon Textract) or enable a better contact center experience (Amazon Connect).

AWS: There is much talk about a “new normal” going forward. What does this “new normal” look like to you, and how do you think the CPG industry will look three years from now?

Raman Yousefi: The cloud technology wave has lifted all boats in the new normal. The way the consumer shops and the expectations associated with that experience have greatly evolved, and CPG companies as well as their vendors have had to adapt quickly. While adaptive AI is getting much attention, it is only one aspect of how automation will reduce the time to market for new products. For example, an agile supply chain will get products into distribution more efficiently while consumers will make data-driven purchase decisions beyond just online ratings. All of this will have to happen with a significantly smaller carbon footprint, whose measurement itself will be part of this automation.

AWS: What makes you excited for the future of CPG?

Raman Yousefi: I am excited to see the ways we and other technology companies will respond to these challenges in ways not yet imagined.

AWS: Thanks for chatting with us, Raman. We appreciate your insights and expertise.

We hope you enjoy our blog series. If you have questions for Raman Yousefi, Lemongrass, or AWS, please leave a comment on this blog. To learn more about Lemongrass, get in touch on their contact page.

Learn more about how Lemongrass helps Florida Crystals achieve their business and sustainability goals in this blog – How AWS and Lemongrass help Florida Crystals achieve their business and sustainability goals.

AWS Partner Spotlight

Lemongrass has built a business on providing solutions and technology that enterprises need to operationalize, analyze and transform into sustainable businesses. Lemongrass’s services accelerate AWS Cloud adoption and help companies reduce carbon emissions by eliminating on-premises footprints associated with power/cooling, hardware, and compute. An AWS Partner with over 10 AWS certifications, Lemongrass helped hundreds of SAP customers migrate to AWS and has over 8,000 SAP servers and 750K+ users under management. Lemongrass has built a successful track record migrating and operating SAP on AWS for greater agility, scalability, and innovation.

Kevin McCurdy

Kevin McCurdy

Kevin E. McCurdy is Global CPG Segment Lead – APN for AWS, responsible for identifying and engaging relationships with strategic ISV and SI Partners. Previously, he served as VP – Demand Signal Management at E2open; was Co-Founder and VP of Strategic Accounts for Orchestro, which was later acquired by E2open; and was also Co-Founder and VP of Business Development and Services at Mercari Technologies. Kevin has 25+ years of experience in supply chain management, category management, and demand signal management working with global CPG companies and retailers, including Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kellogg’s, PepsiCo, Unilever, and Kraft-Heinz. He holds a BSc in Business Logistics and International Business from Penn State.

Raman Yousefi

Raman Yousefi

Raman Yousefi is the AWS Practice Lead for Americas, for Lemongrass, and is responsible for the growth and success of the SAP on AWS business at Lemongrass across the company’s Advisory, Migration, Operation, and Innovation services portfolio. Prior to Lemongrass, Raman was with AWS and led global go-to-market and business development for SAP on AWS growing the business significantly to thousands of customers. Prior to AWS, he focused on helping SAP ERP customers adopt new innovations to modernize and optimize their SAP systems for companies such as Panasonic, EMC/VMWare, Virtustream, and later Dell Technologies.