Federated Co-operatives Limited

Building sustainable communities together to build a better tomorrow.

Federated Co-operatives Limited logo

Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) does business differently. At its core, FCL is a wholesaling, manufacturing, marketing, and administrative co-operative serving people in Western Canada.

It’s a co-operative that supports other co-operatives, whose territory consists of five provinces spanning Northwest Ontario to Victoria Island in British Columbia and from the United States border up to the Arctic Circle.

To say it’s a large coverage area is an understatement. What amounts to 1M square miles or 29% of Canada land, Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) has built a diverse portfolio of businesses to encompass the entire value chain – building, feeding, and fueling over 250 communities through 160 independently owned co-operatives that operate over 900 locations/stores. These local co-ops own and operate agro-centres, grocery stores, gas bars/convenience stores, card locks, and home centres – as well as a fully functional refinery for fuel, an Ethanol factory and currently endeavoring down the path of alternate fuel venture. It’s a complex business that touches many facets of Western Canadian life.

“We start at the farm, and we end up on your shelf, or in your kitchen or your car,” says Roman Coba, CIO and Vice President of Innovation at Federated Co-operatives Limited.

A co-operative business model is unique. “The interesting part about our business is that we actually sell to people who grow, we buy what they grow, we turn it, we sell the by-product, and we sell them everything else along the way,” Coba explains further.

Owning the value chain creates analytic opportunities to innovate and increase business value.

FCL’s business operating model creates a virtuous cycle ripe for analytics to streamline processes and drive business outcomes that accelerate growth. For example:

  • Oil refinery maintenance to maximize operational efficiencies and production via predictive asset maintenance
    “Where can you save money? By reducing maintenance hours and plant downtime to increase plant uptime. To do that, you need to be able to forecast when something is going to break. We took all their statistics around lifecycle, breakage, and maximum/optimized hours of operation. We took all the historical data we had of when things broke, when they had to be fixed, all maintenance windows, the history of what we did and how we did it, and then we started putting in throughput on an ongoing daily basis. And we said, ‘Now, tell us when something's going to break.’ Let’s get ahead of it!”
  • Agricultural farming to maximize crop yields
    “The key value was the ability to have the foresight to see what element of the factors around the farm are impacting, or will impact, the future crop yield. Agronomists go to the farm, sit down with the farmers in the winter months and perform analytics to inform farming plans around acreage requirements of crops, when to seed, when to optimally do various steps, and so forth to then lay out the next year's plans with the farmer.”
  • Retail store performance, inventory management, and demand forecasting to drive profitability
    “We have built analytics around store performance, inventory turns, and profitability. We made it available to the store manager and operational managers on the floor and we provide them the ability to look at anything on a product. They can look at impacts of promotions, stock visibility, category management, and predictive alerting around empty shelves. So, they use this for demand forecasting to predict what is needed, the rate of sale, and so on.”

By scaling data for real-time decisioning, FCL’s data harmonization and integration supports predictive analytics use-cases across its enterprise with the goal of maximizing business performance.

“Our number one focus is always the local community. Our goal is to generate as much profit as we possibly can to return it right back into the communities it comes from,” Coba states.

These efforts contribute to FCL’s achieving over $9B CAD in sales and $495M in net income in 2021, representing an increase of 14% and 180% YOY (respectively), returning $353M to its members and communities to fulfill the FCL mission of ‘building sustainable communities together.’

Innovating across the value chain demands integrating and harmonizing data.

Siloed data across many systems hinders streamlining business processes and prevents scaling analytical insights that accelerate business performance. FCL’s siloed data was difficult to access and non-intuitive for analysts and business users to leverage for simple analytical and reporting needs. As a result, FCL’s technology was not clearly connected nor focused on driving business outcomes and capabilities. Coba and his technology team faced a complex data landscape with many legacy systems in place.

Data sources and systems include:

  • Mainframe Data (master data, supply chain)
  • Promotions
  • Point of Sale (POS)
  • CRM
  • Loyalty
  • Supply Chain Contracts

With data domains for:

  • Supply Chain
  • Sales Trending
  • Freight
  • Forecasts
  • Food
  • Petroleum
  • Liquor Sales

By modernizing its stack with a flexible and scalable analytics and data platform, Teradata Vantage meets all of FCL’s current and future predictive analytics possibilities.

“The mandate was, bring value with technology. We all know that data's just data and the gold is how you turn it into information,” continues Coba, “the approach we took is to get all the data to be able to give you all the linkages to get to the answer to any question anybody would have.”

To do so, Coba and his technology team identified replacing a legacy IBM Netezza/Db2 data warehouse with Teradata Vantage after evaluating others like Snowflake and Microsoft.

“Teams asked, ‘why Teradata?’ I said, ‘because they know what they're doing. They focus on what they do best. Teradata has the plan, the products, the capability, and partners who can bring it to the table,’” recounts Coba on the decision to modernize with Teradata Vantage.

Coba explains further on Teradata’s unique value to FCL, “Teradata enables us with a platform that can scale, grow, and adapt. The organization also has a vast knowledge base in their industry experts that can sit at the table with you and actually talk your language and help you through your challenges.”

Now, Vantage integrates and harmonizes data at scale for FCL’s predictive analytics, BI/reporting, and data management needs across the enterprise. MicroStrategy acts as the visualization layer, allowing business users, like retail store managers and operational managers, to leverage insights from Teradata in easily digestible dashboarding and visualizations.

Business users interact with data and insights via business applications. These applications incorporate analytical insights such as:

  • Market Basket Analysis
  • Spend Analytics
  • Convenience Store Analytics
  • Petroleum Analytics
  • Food Analysis
  • Ag Business Analytics
  • Unified POC
  • Supply Chain Outbound Analysis
  • Fresh Analysis
  • Merchandise Analysis

By modernizing its analytics and data platform with Teradata, FCL enables self-service capabilities leading FCL’s IT team to be a hero in FCL’s business transformation.

Business leaders make breakthrough decisions to drive positive impact.

“We’ve built a technology organization that’s now a valued member and partner to the business. We're suggesting and bringing in ideas to the business on how to move forward, how to grow, what to stock, what to do next, etc. We're their trusted advisor,” Coba proclaims.

Transforming into a data-driven organization, FCL’s business leaders are empowered with real-time data access to improve decision making. As FCL’s technology team focusing on driving value from technology investments and automation, its business impact is felt across business units. For example:

  • Improving demand chain and supply chain management (e.g. spend analytics generates $75M in return);
  • Improving sales and inventory reporting;
  • Better transportation performance; and
  • Reducing expenses and increasing the bottom line.

All of which improve profitability to return and invest back into FCL’s communities. Coba highlights how this technology transformation is leading to a cultural transformation, “the most fun is bringing along your business leaders and them walking away with big smiles on their faces saying, ‘Holy Cow, it's not technology. It's my insight, it's my future.’”


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