Using IT transformation as a unifying force
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Using IT transformation as a unifying force

Jessica Twentyman — March 2014

How Europe’s largest processed meat group, Campofrio, has prepared for future expansion with the integration of company-wide IT.

Nuria Simo’s career in information technology has taken her to senior positions in the US, Holland, the UK, Germany and back to her native Spain. With such a wealth of international experience, it’s no surprise to hear that when she joined Europe’s leading processed meat company Campofrio Food Group as CIO in 2011 she was asked to play a central role in the transformation of the group as it has moved from a collection of eight largely independent operating companies (Aoste, Fiorucci, Jean Caby, Stegeman and others) to a unified, coherent entity.

Embedded Nuria Simo CIO Campofrio1
Nuria Simo, CIO of Campofrio

Simo is now confident that she’s put in place the kind of IT foundation that will help the €1.9 billion ($2.7bn) group to successfully fulfill its ambitions to evolve into a global player, but that has meant focusing on some real business fundamentals. “From the start, on the IT side of things I could see that this would involve both a major ERP program and a major infrastructure program; and on the business side it was going to involve the total transformation of a large company’s operating model.”

That prospect was attractive enough, but an even wider challenge also drew her to the job. “The processed meat industry is a highly fragmented sector where widespread consolidation is bound to take place. And [playing a part in] that, too, was appealing,” says Simo, who has held top IT roles at other food groups including Cargill and FrieslandCampina.

With an imminent change of ownership due at Campofrio in coming weeks, a global footprint may come sooner than expected. A joint bid for the company by Mexican frozen food group Sigma Alimentos and Hong Kong-based meat processing company WH Group (formerly Shuanghui International) had, at the time of writing, been approved by EU regulators but was still awaiting final approval from national regulators in Spain and Mexico.
Primed for change

Whatever happens next, Simo feels Campofrio’s IT is in good shape for the challenges ahead. Her team has taken the group’s core IT application infrastructure from eight ERP systems down to a single SAP instance, delivered as a utility service by ICT giant Fujitsu from its data centers in Germany. The pay-per-use service provides complete management of components, including infrastructure provisioning, operating systems management, databases, middleware and SAP applications, all under a transparent, flexible system linked directly to changes in the company in business volumes — and supporting its expansion plans.

Four different email systems, meanwhile, have been replaced wholesale with a cloud-based Office 365 system from Microsoft that offers a stack of additional collaboration tools.

Underpinning that is a managed network service from Easynet, which replaced four separate networks that Campofrio had previously used across its business units. The recent extension of that contact for another three years has seen Easynet also take over the day-to-day management of network security.

“I believe that there are a few core things that you need to keep in-house. With security, those are decisions about policy and [key] monitoring tasks. But the operational aspect of network security is something that a provider with highly trained staff can do very well on our behalf.”

“Cloud lets us reduce the distance between people and stimulates faster innovation.”

The IT transformation program has certainly improved the efficiency of IT operations at Campofrio, says Simo, but more importantly, it has delivered major benefits to the wider workforce — those working in factories and warehouses, or out on the road selling to retail stores.

The January 2013 deployment of Office 365, for example, has given them SharePoint for document exchange and Lync for instant messaging and online meetings — valuable tools for staff learning to work as one Campofrio-wide team, in many cases for the first time.

“I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to do with technology in terms of improving collaboration,” says Simo. “Because Office 365 is in the cloud, it gives us tremendous mobility. It doesn’t matter where you are or what device you’re carrying, if you’re a Campofrio employee who needs to contact a colleague, a supplier or a customer, you can do it from anywhere.”

And cloud will likely play a larger role in future IT plans. “We now consider cloud in almost every decision we make. If it’s feasible, we go for it,” she says. But that is not yet practical in every area.

“We’re not contemplating public cloud-based SAP right now; that would be a step too far. But for some other applications —logistics, for example, or for supporting our sales force — we’re seriously considering the possibilities. We’re very open to cloud; we feel it gives us that all-important mobility, but it’s also a good way to manage IT costs and at the same time provide services to the business that are extremely flexible and scalable over time.”

“Most important, she says, cloud technologies fit well with Campofrio’s overarching strategies of globalization and innovation. “These are the two things that I was brought in to deliver. As CIO, my job is to make sure that the workforce has the systems, tools and new ways of working that will support creativity and the exchange of ideas across international boundaries. Cloud lets us reduce the distance between people and stimulates faster innovation at the same time.”

First published March 2014
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