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February 8, 2016

Beer Brewer Quenches Thirst with IBM's Predictive Analytics

by Colin Quinn

Here's how 172-year-old beer maker Pabst is using IBM's predictive analytics to reinvent itself..

We've all had a "PBR" at some point, the Pabst Brewing Company which has been around since 1844 has brewed several popular beer brands, but none more notable then Pabst Blue Ribbon.

The 172-year-old beer brewer may have started selling beer in the 19th century, but it hasn't remained trapped in the past.

Under the guidance of contemporary leadership, the company began using analytic software back in 2013 to track sales, predict new business approaches, and outperform the competition.

Business Insider recently spoke with Pabst Brewing CFO Cordell Sweeney about the companies focus on technology and how it's impacted the company's entire financial cycle.

The beer brewer is currently leveraging IBM's predictive analytics platform to "develop a volume forecast by package type and customer." - Pabst CFO

Pabst has been transitioning to a quarterly rolling forecasting cycle and eliminating the annual budgeting process.

"Predictive forecasting is reviewed by selected members from the Pabst Brewing Company's executive leadership team and then extended to the sales team via IBM's web-based planning platform to gain valuable market insights," - Pabst CFO

By utilizing IBM's platform over the last several years Pabst's has been able to reduce cycle time for the accounting process to just five business days. The time savings provided to the company's core business has enabled teams to spend more time and focus on innovation pipeline forecasting and other critical growth drivers for the business.

The new forecasting process also "Allows mid-course corrections and better decision-making, we have also integrated our monthly volume forecasts with a weekly forecast that is being used to support the near-term demand planning/inventory planning processes." - Pabst CFO

Pabst is also focused on implementing IBM's technology in order to track retail account customer profitability for major retail chains.

"Keep in mind that the beer business is regulated under a three-tier system where suppliers like Pabst Brewing Company sell to distributors, and the distributors are responsible for selling to and servicing approximately 600,000 retail accounts in the US." - Pabst CFO

"Through the IBM technology platform, we are now able to develop retail account P&Ls, gaining valuable insights into our chain business," he says.

Pabst plans to fully implement IBM analytics technology into retail account profits and losses in 2016, allowing the company to fully utilize chain account team compensation programs.

Sweeney admits that change management has provided a significant challenge to implementing new technology for the company.

"Most employees are good with the status quo as opposed to always asking how can we do things better, smarter, more efficiently, and delivering more value-added results," he says. "Strong executive leadership is paramount to ensure scope, schedule, and costs are adhered to." - Pabst CFO

Among the biggest consideration is ensuring that the right employees are freed up from their day jobs to help implement new technology, and are properly trained to deal with the results provided by the new tech.

While implementing IBM's analytics platform is helping Pabst better understand the sales channel and its customers, Sweeney says social media is still the most effective tool used by the company to market its products.

To learn more about how IBM analytics can help your business reinvent itself contact us or check out our IBM analytics offerings.

Follow Pabst Blue Ribbon on Twitter: @PabstBlueRibbon

Sources:  (2015, November 25) Here's how 170-year-old beer maker Pabst is using predictive analytics to reinvent itself. Retrieved from

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