ecm:one in the finals of the challenge "Product Matching Engine" at Beyond conventions

Pitch at Thyssenkrupp

ecm:one is a young, dynamic tech start-up based in Münster, Germany. It specializes in the cost-efficient digitization of corporate processes. Martin Odinius, the CEO and Founder, has 18 years of experience with CMS implementation projects in small and medium organizations.

On 20 and 21 February, the 2018 Beyond Conventions took place at the headquarters of thyssenkrupp in Essen. Beyond conventions is an event at which start-ups can pitch to 5 major German companies (thyssenkrupp, innogy, Funke Medien NRW, Open Grid Europe and Schacht One) that have prepared various challenges. From the 200+ applications that were received, ecm:one was able to qualify for the finals of the challenge “Product Matching Engine” from thyssenkrupp along with two other applicants.

The Product Matching Engine challenge

At thyssenkrupp Materials Germany we receive up to 130.000 orders per year, of which nearly 50% are mail or fax. After a fax or mail is received, it is processed by our customer service at the respective sites. This means, that every line of the order is looked up in the SAP system by the responsible employee, which leads to a significant effort in the order intake.

The customer inquiries and orders typically contain the name of the customer, contact details and between 3-5 line items, which have to be matched to a material master of more than 100,000 different materials. The grade of structure varies strongly from document to document. While about 50% of the documents are highly structured in the form of tables and unique material identifiers, other documents have no clear structure and may even refer to historical documents. The customer may also have an own language for some materials which has to be translated in the thyssenkrupp language to be found in the system. About 50% of the faxes and mails are unstructured, which makes it very difficult to process them automatically. An automated matching to match semi- and unstructured documents to the SAP system would probably lead to a significant improvement in order intake.

The challenge is to define an automated process, an intelligent methodology and an appropriate technology to realize order intake automation with respect to customer inquiries and orders.

Order Intake Automation via Data Capture and Line Item Linking

The solution proposed by ecm:one is based on IRISXtract™ data capture software and its Purchase Order Capture Solution. The software package was extended according to the requirements to not only be able to capture the customer data, the delivery address, the delivery date and the line items. But also to link the line items with the matching articles from the 100.000+ articles of the material master. For this, an intelligent algorithm was developed to accurately identify articles using dimensions and historical data, from both structured and unstructured inquiries and orders. Once the data is captured from the orders, the solution by ecm:one delivers the data to thyssenkrupps’ own back-end system, SAP for further processing.

We were challenged by thyssenkrupp to prove that high levels of automation are possible in important corporate processes. In the challenge ‘Product Matching Engine’ we made it to the final thanks to the innovative and expandable Purchase Order Capture Solution from our partner IRIS.
Martin Odinius, Founder, ecm:one

Solution with:

Key facts

  • Up to 130,000 orders per year
  • 50% unstructured documents
  • Over 100,000 different materials to match line-items with