Meira Nova renewed its analytics with the support of AI Roots

Meira Nova is one of the leading foodservice operators in Finland delivering food and restaurant commodities for S-group restaurants as well as external clients, including catering kitchens, workplace canteens, and the hotel and restaurant sector. The company’s turnover is 300 million euros and Meira Nova employs about 300 people, of which 200 are internal and 100 are external employees. Meira Nova is part of SOK (The Central Finnish Cooperative Society), which operates in the retail, travel and hospitality business in Finland and Estonia.

Forming the business case

The cooperation between Meira Nova and AI Roots started 2,5 years ago when Meira Nova was renewing its strategy, of which central focus areas were analytics and data-driven decision making. During that time AI Roots had contacted Jani Kaski, IT area lead at SOK, who recognized AI Roots’s potential to help Meira Nova in forming the analytics business case. At the time Kaski operated as the development manager at Meira Nova and carried forward the project of data-driven decision making.

“AI Roots consolidated the analytics needs from Meira Nova's business stakeholders, and from there we jointly designed the development roadmap and related milestones”, Kaski describes the early steps of the cooperation.

Once the roadmap was ready, Meira Nova started to prepare the renewal of its analytics capabilities, based on the roadmap. At the same time, the SOK group was finishing a reference architecture project related to analytics services. The aim was to harmonize the analytics tools and the platforms used in the group. To carry out the renewal project, Meira Nova needed a partner. AI Roots was already in a good position as they had helped to form the analytics roadmap. According to Jani Kaski, also other factors influenced the choice of partner:

“AI Roots performed well in the tender. The price tag of their offer was also very reasonable and competitive, so it was easy to choose AI Roots as a partner. AI Roots' strengths were also a more agile approach and the high experience level of consultants they were able to provide for this project.”

Phase 1: Engaging the business functions and setting new practices

In addition to renewing the technological solutions, the first phase of the project included involving the business functions to define specifications for the analytics tools and services and training them to utilize the new tools. It was also central to adopt a new agile way of working, of which Meira Nova had little experience. Kaski sees that AI Roots’ understanding of how to involve the business units and teach the end-users to utilize the new technological tools were key prerequisites for succeeding in the first phase of the project:

“It was a pleasure to see that the project progressed well and to notice how the end-user’s engagement and capabilities grew: Not only the ability to define the specifications but also learning how to use the system. The technical solution was well implemented but knowing how to involve people is not always self-evident for technical people. You can have good technical capabilities but finding developers with the adequate team and social skills can be more difficult.”

In addition, the project stayed on budget.

Phase 2: raising the stakes

The successful implementation of the basic analytics capabilities in the first phase of the project laid a strong foundation for the continuation. Meira Nova had also formed a good working relationship with AI Roots, so it was easy to continue the journey together and keep on with the good practices. At the same time, the difficulty level of the project increased, and the aim now was to develop more advanced solutions. After Covid subsided, the intensity of the business also grew, which increased the workload of the business units and required from the project:

“The social skills of the AI Roots developers were emphasized once again, as they had to take more part in defining the specifications and the facilitation. It helped that the developers were quite well versed in Meira Nova's business, and they understand, for example, certain financial requirements and can help in the decision making”, Kaski describes.

The second phase of the project is running smoothly, with tangible results.



A joint learning journey

Kaski's role has since moved from Meira Nova to operating as the area lead of SOK AID. Although there has been a slight shift of perspective, in practice little has changed in the cooperation with AI Roots. Kaski says he is also now in a better position to replicate the good practices of a successful project:

“Culturally, the gains and well-working methods we have been able to achieve throughout the cooperation can be duplicated in other projects and activities. I can sincerely recommend AI Roots’ good developers and good organization and have already identified new tasks for AI Roots at SOK.”

Kaski sees that Meira Nova, SOK IT, and AI Roots have grown together along the way and the joint journey has also involved good discussions, in which ideas and thoughts have been shared outside the project scope as well. Ari Rantanen, Partner at AI Roots, is on the same lines and has also been happy with the cooperation and looks forward to the future steps:

“Meira Nova has come a long way, and this one-team way of working has been quite unique.”

If you are interested to hear more about the case or need similar support in your organization, you may contact Ari via email or book a meeting directly. ari.rantanen@rootsof.aiBook a meeting with Ari