Community Blog Seeding Digital Transformation in Southeast Asia – Part 3: An Introduction to Buttercup Spices

Seeding Digital Transformation in Southeast Asia – Part 3: An Introduction to Buttercup Spices

Part 3 of this 8-part series introduces Buttercup Spices and discusses some of its current business practices.

By Shantanu Kaushik

Buttercup Spices is a fictional spices company used to illustrate the importance of digital transformation for traditional businesses. Buttercup Spices has a diverse history with an ancestry going back to 14th century trade routes in India, China, Arabia, Persia, and Italy. A lineage that started from the silk route has led this spices company to expand its business to neighboring countries.

Background Info

Our fictional company, Buttercup Spices, deals spices to direct retail operations and raw material supply to different vendors globally. Initially, they tried to establish tie-ups with similar trade counterparts all over Southeast Asia to extend their arms globally. However, this venture had severe shortcomings as Buttercup Spices did not have the digital infrastructure to conduct business across those countries.

Luckily, Alibaba Cloud is a major cloud player in Southeast Asia and has a presence worldwide. This is a major plus for any organization opting to work with Alibaba Cloud, as the expansion does not have limits.

Buttercup Spices has finalized Alibaba Cloud as their cloud services provider and the digital transformation partner. They have recently appointed a Digital Transformation Team (DX Team) to create a robust strategy with a detailed solution review to embark on their digital transformation journey.

Digital Transformation Strategy

Current Business Setup

Buttercup Spices has 16 pilot offices, with one central headquarters governing operations. However, most of their operations are still executed using in-person meetings and conference calls. Their current infrastructure doesn’t involve any private networks or intra-establishment links. Their primary modes of communication are email and facsimile transmissions (FAX). Despite almost no technological presence, this organization has a large consumer base and business presence with high brand name value.

DX Team Involvement

The organization finally decided to start its technological revamp. The Buttercup Spices administration called the DX Team and asked them to create a strategy that encompasses its previous recommendation of starting small with some departments adopting digital transformation and setting up a subsidiary firm. The administration made it very clear that they required a phased digital transformation that transforms their business while maintaining the core business values.

The Strategy

As stated previously, digital transformation is not a checklist of steps leading an organization towards new technology. Different organizations require different tools and solutions that match their business requirements.

The Buttercup Spices DX Team consulted with Alibaba Cloud to formulate a strategy to check every essential box before, during, and after the digital transformation journey is completed.


  1. Assess the business reach
  2. Matching available solutions and tools with the complexities of the current business practice. This helps present an overlay of solutions to counteract any possible complexities and challenges during the implementation phase.
  3. Assessment of market value and expected cost assessment for the overall transformation
  4. Setting up an organization hierarchy and priority for each department
  5. Defining the transformation phases
  6. Workload sharing protocols and size of the new subsidiary
  7. Defining testing phases (pilot testing)
  8. Defining training/skillset requirement for personnel
  9. Risk assessment and management
  10. Goals

The First Steps

The Buttercup Spices DX Team discussed the prerequisites and created a strategy. Their first layer is the skillset assessment of the current team and their technological awareness. While working on the first layer, they needed to hire IT staff to handle IT operations, management, and planning. According to the DX Team’s recommendation, Buttercup Spices did not use any pre-defined model from their competition. Instead, Buttercup Spices started their journey with an emphasis on the cultural shift.

This cultural shift requires a significant amount of time since the business is well-versed with its way of doing things. Their execution cycle is a combination of a set mechanism that operates in a tightly coupled architecture without the possibility of introducing any change.

1.  Buttercup Spices created an online subsidiary, Buttercup Spice Online to overcome this issue.

They started with Alibaba Cloud Software as a Service (SaaS) before shifting to an IaaS for customized and robust infrastructure usage with custom application builds or an ECS Bare Metal Instance if require dedicated computing power.

2.  The DX Team started with procurement and mid-level management staff. The DX Team trained the staff with the newer process to improve efficiency. the DX Team also hired new IT staff and began with knowledge transfer to help teams better understand and use the newly introduced technologies.

3.  The DX Team asked for volunteers among the present and newer IT staff to digitize and sort the company data. Some of this data is in a traditional MySQL database stored using a monolithic standalone application. This application was installed in all their facilities and gave Buttercup Spices a basic ERP system. However, data synchronization and centralized assessment were almost non-existent.

The DX Team visited the Alibaba Cloud Marketplace to search for a viable alternative. They contacted Alibaba Cloud support, purchased a basic service set, and were assigned a dedicated Alibaba Cloud team with a solutions manager.

The DX Team recommended the Alibaba Cloud PolarDB solution to migrate the existing MySQL database and align it with a frontend centralized data and ERP system.

Continued in Part 4

In Part 4, we will continue exploring the digital transformation strategy of Buttercup Spices.

Upcoming Articles

  1. Seeding Digital Transformation in Southeast Asia – Part 4: The Strategy
  2. Seeding Digital Transformation in Southeast Asia – Part 5: Application Migration
  3. Seeding Digital Transformation in Southeast Asia – Part 6: Resource Planning and Networking
  4. Seeding Digital Transformation in Southeast Asia – Part 7: Building a Smarter Supply Chain
  5. Seeding Digital Transformation in Southeast Asia – Part 8: Introducing AI for Better Workflow
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