How JAPFA Keeps up with Rapid Business Growth and Expansion with Reliable Data


In emerging Asia, animal-based protein is big business. It is especially true for JAPFA Group; a public listed company in both Singapore and Indonesia, where I serve as CIO. Among the five-staple animal-based proteins we are in (Poultry, Swine, Beef, Aquaculture, and Dairy), poultry is the cornerstone of the group, contributing to approximately 80% of our total revenue (of USD 3.5 billion) in 2018.

JAPFA’s mission statement is very clear: to be the leading dependable provider of affordable protein foods in emerging Asia, building on the foundation of our excellent teamwork and proven experience for the benefit of all stakeholders. Simply stated, we feed emerging Asia. JAPFA operations are present in Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, India, and China. Poultry is where JAPFA has very deep knowledge and know-how. We are a total integrated poultry solution provider, from upstream (Feed division) all the way to downstream (Poultry Processing and Distribution division). Meanwhile, our Animal Health and Livestock Equipment divisions support the full stream operations.

With JAPFA’s continuous rapid business growth and expansion, Information Technology plays a very important role to support the growth and expansion. Among other things, we must enable efficient and effective data-driven decision making. 

Seeking Better Decisions and a Data-Based Solution

Until as recently as 2015, JAPFA used an off-the-shelf ERP and Business Intelligence (BI) platform. The BI platform’s technology was quite dated and as for the ERP system—our data was trapped there. It meant producing report after report in Excel spreadsheets. In a moment, I’ll provide a concrete example of the problems of working with spreadsheets, but in brief, they were cumbersome, questionable, and delayed our response time.

As JAPFA’s business continues to grow, more and more data needed to be processed and presented as insights in meaningful ways. It was increasingly apparent to us that our then-BI platform and Excel spreadsheets were no longer tenable. This was when we embarked on a journey to look for a new BI platform. Our goal was grand but simple. We wanted a BI platform that would allow us to enable a data-literate organization: adjusting course, direction, and business decisions that are based on unquestionable facts and figures. 

That was when we came across Qlik. What impressed us the most was its built-in script-based ETL, its Associative Engine, Power of Gray, and in-memory processing capability; all without costing us an arm and a leg. 

During the BI selection process, we also realized that Principal combined with local support were very important components to consider too. And Qlik has met our expectation. 

One Implementation, One Happy Surprise

The immediate key differentiation once we onboarded Qlik was in the way we drive the information design discussion. No longer are we bound by rows and columns. Qlik’s data visualization capabilities allow us to create more meaningful information through the use of charts and dashboard-like design; which, in turn, drive better visibility to information and give us insights never seen before.

When we adopted Qlik, we never intended for analytical dashboards to replace our traditional reports, yet slowly this is what’s happening. As people are more and more familiar with what a good dashboard design looks like and how to design dashboards that work for them, the more they shift from traditional rows and columns reports to dashboards. This was a pleasant surprise. 

Dashboards allow you to drill down into the data dynamically.

With dashboards, it’s very quick to see what the detailed data tries to tell us in a summarized format with the ability to drill down only if necessary. Dashboards are not one size fits all. We customize dashboard designs to suit a person’s role within the organization. For example, a Director level needs the highest-helicopter-view of several limited insights, whereas the Line Manager level needs more detailed insights with drill-down capability. With Qlik, we also have alerts based on key threshold parameters for faster awareness and response.

We now focus our efforts more than ever before to share the values of the Qlik analytics platform throughout JAPFA. To solidify this effort, in 2017 we formed our second Center of Excellence organization dedicated specifically to the growth of our Business Intelligence footprint at JAPFA. What began with just 2 people in the organization has now grown to 10 people strong and we continue to recruit and hire. 

We Know Immediately If There’s Trouble in the Hen House

Many critical factors go into producing high-quality Day-Old-Chicks (DOCs), starting with healthy laying hens. If any one of them goes wrong the consequences are dire. Serious efforts are made every single day to record and analyze our production data against our quality contributing factors farming data across the thousands of hen houses we operate. 

Back in the day, we had to painstakingly go over those data manually one by one in an effort to detect any kind of anomaly that might have occurred to prevent issues from going bad to worse. What was supposed to happen was to have our data identify potential issues; instead, we found ourselves going to the data after the potential issues had been identified. The reality was that more time was spent on processing and converting raw data into meaningful reports and charts versus analyzing and gaining insights from the data. 

Now with Qlik, the situation is reversed. Nationwide data from across the thousands of hen houses we operate now automatically flow—processed and transformed—into meaningful visualization insights on a regular and timely basis. Whenever Qlik detects a potential anomaly, it immediately sends an alert to proper authorities. Insights are also highlighted in different colors to make them visible: green for when everything is good, yellow and red for when something is identified according to the severity of the anomaly. Details behind those indicators are also just within a click away as Qlik allows us to drill down to the level of details we desire.

With this capability, actions, if called for, can be taken very fast. 

Business Is Booming, and Our Data Analysis Capabilities Along with It

Business is booming and our data analysis capabilities are growing alongside it. Since beginning our journey with Qlik, the company has impressed me with their vision towards data literacy. My colleagues and I attended one of Qlik’s Data Revolution events in Singapore and it inspired me to drive data literacy throughout JAPFA. By the way, Qlik made available several free tools and trainings as part of their Data Literacy Campaign.

I think the next step is to progress to predictive and script-based analytics. What if we could create accurate predictions given historical data and parameters from our ocean of data? What if our data could give us steps towards the desired outcome or identify preventative measures? That is where I see the data revolution taking us. Given the advancement in the area of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, I have high hopes this is going to happen sooner rather than later. 

JAPFA’s mission and values are rooted in our heritage and decades of experience in animal-based protein in emerging economies. The market for good-value protein in these economies is only growing and so do our competition. Relying on data in the way we make decisions is the future way to fulfill our mission to feed emerging Asia and growing towards mutual prosperity.