Case Study: CEMEX Works to Become a Data-Driven Company

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Digital transformation is alive and well at CEMEX, a global leader in building materials. It started its journey two years ago, evolving from a traditional brick-and-mortar business model to a digital one where customer-centricity is the dominant factor over product-centricity.

Now it needs to become an even more data-driven company, where its data powers digital transformation rather than just informing reports and supporting business intelligence. Leveraging consistent data effectively can truly transform the customer experience, and what was needed was for CEMEX to define its data foundation and create a roadmap from there.

A strong data foundation will underpin new data-driven customer opportunities for the company to take advantage of advanced analytics, data monetization, artificial intelligence, digital marketing, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Some of these capabilities already are being exploited in pockets of the organization, but for all this to really take off, “it’s important for CEMEX to work as one,” said CEMEX Data Architecture Manager Gerardo Reyna during a session at the DATAVERSITY® Enterprise Data World Conference titled Data-Driven Innovation Through Collaborative Governance at CEMEX, and co-presented with Donna Burbank the Managing Director at Global Data Strategy.


The company has already taken a big step toward customer-centricity with CEMEX GO. It is a fully-integrated platform where construction companies place orders, track shipments, manage invoices, and so on. CEMEX notes that it is the first end-to-end e-commerce platform in the industry. To date, some 20,000 customers across 18 countries are using the innovative solution.

Importantly, as customers increase their business efficiency by getting the real-time, detailed information they need to handle common tasks, CEMEX GO is poised to generate data-rich analytics that will help it better understand customers, anticipate their needs, and focus on creating the most valuable solutions for them.

With CEMEX GO, “we can see what the customer experience is,” said Donna Burbank, which is working with CEMEX. “What is the cost of service to this customer, what is their digital experience? These are KPIs that make a specific project real to people.”  

So its end-to-end customer Data Strategy—from bringing in new customers through social media, digital campaigns, and other opportunities to retaining customers by virtue of an enhanced customer experience—must take into consideration data sources of all types, exploratory data lakes, advanced analytics, and a mesh of different user roles (data stewards, scientists, security specialist, and so on).

This calls for a strong Data Architecture, Master Data Management, and Data Governance to ensure consistent and quality data throughout the customer journey. For example, customers will be represented in different ways in different systems unless there is an MDM solution to create a single view of a buyer throughout the customer journey, said Burbank.

“Data Quality in current transactional systems hampers integration,” Reyna noted. Burbank added that the business faces the impact of poor data quality every day. It will take integrating accurate data that is currently spread across systems to allow for a realtime view of a customer across the enterprise; advanced analytics for customer segmentation; an analysis of customer behaviors; and the development of new products and services.

Key Points for CEMEX

CEMEX’s approach to data evolution in the context of collaborative governance requires adherence to core principles, according to Reyna and Burbank. These are defined as:

  • Working as “One CEMEX” and orchestrating data initiatives through Data Governance and collaboration. 
  • Aligning with current governance bodies to leverage what works.
  • Engaging business stakeholders to have stronger ownership of data, aligning global and local initiatives and accelerating digital transformation.
  • Collaborating with cross-functional teams—business and IT—to support and improve the Data Management/data-driven initiative focus.
  • Building for the long-term but delivering in the short-term. CEMEX GO was the fast build to show what can be done for customers by better understanding them, and now architectural changes are required to push to long-term transformation.
  • Referring to industry best practices and trusted advisors (like the DAMA DMBOK functional framework) but customizing for the company’s unique culture and environment.
  • Identifying key capabilities needed to become a leading data-driven organization.

Burbank discussed some of the challenges around adhering to some collaborative governance principles. For instance, when it comes to IT collaborating and engaging with business stakeholders, “IT has to work together as a unified team that uses the same language as the business,” she said. Don’t disagree in front of the business about the tech stuff that doesn’t have significance for business users in any concrete way—such as getting into the nooks and crannies about MDM, reference data, and the like.

It was important to building collaborative governance to create small and agile-based digital teams, Burbank said. As an example, CEMEX’s Digital Update team works with its Digital Evolution teams to align, orchestrate, and prioritize projects to make sure that everyone is working together toward a common goal. “Now we are funneling projects into agile, aligned, and actionable results,” she said. “It’s a fluid environment where we can work to an agile goal in an agile way.”

There is a culture of data accountability now, too. The Data Evolution team, for example, is the coordinating body for data owners, who themselves set high-level policies and directions for data; define business rules; KPIs and definitions; and have the responsibility for understanding of data for a key business area, such as customer centricity. A Programs and Projects coordinating body exists for data stewards, who are subject matter experts for their defined area based on project, whether it be regional, application, master data domain, or others.

Reyna and Burbank know that there’s still more work to do, such as continuing to evolve the data architecture to be aligned with business needs—positioning data hubs by domains such as customer and incorporating an MDM hub. But all this can be built on top of the “One CEMEX” for data culture that is already in place.

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