By Holly Baumgart, Vice President-Information Technology, Sargento Foods
Journey as the VP – Information Technology
Being a technology leader in today’s world is very exciting. I started my career in Information Technology (IT) but left to pursue a role in marketing strategy. While that was very interesting, I was eventually drawn back into IT. Right now, these worlds are converging. It is exciting to see the importance of technology in every area of business. I am thrilled to be back in the technology space during such an exhilarating time of change.
One of my key takeaways is to always work on something that is mentally stimulating. If it isn’t, you ultimately won’t be successful. You can honestly make every role interesting and enjoyable. The best way to do that is to be grateful every day for the job you have, the people you get to work with, the company that engages you, and everything you have in your life supporting you. There really is good in every situation. Turn everything into an opportunity. I think about this each and every day—it has helped me to achieve all of my goals.
Impact of Latest Innovations on Food Production
There is a lot of investigation on what the Internet of Things (IoT) and integration of Operational Technology (OT) can bring to the food production space. This is an exciting time; we are at the cusp of significant change. Keeping production costs down is an important factor in food manufacturing.
Right now, a lot of the IoT and OT technology is expensive. In our case, we are going to need to build a solid business case for change. When speaking to some startup companies, I am excited to learn about advancements in this technology at reasonable prices. This will allow us to experiment and do proof of concepts prior to making significant investments.
IT can and should be about technology leadership in every organization
I believe this type of technology will allow Sargento, and other food manufacturers, to make smarter business decisions. If done well, this can be a competitive advantage. We plan to use technology to answer specific business questions, like ‘which cheese is the most efficient moving across our production lines?’ Using incremental data in production decisions will allow us to invest our resources in other places, like developing exciting new products for our customers.
Moving to the Next Level
Every organization is at a different maturity level when it comes to IT Service Management (ITSM). Sargento is just starting down this journey. We believe there is value in shifting to a customer-aligned service model. We also believe that IT needs to take a leadership role and that it can’t just be stakeholder driven.
Simplicity is one improvement opportunity that I believe could take organizations to the next level. There are a lot of methodologies, frameworks, tools, software, and training on the topic of ITSM. However, the topic can get broad and complex very quickly. It is often one that stakeholders and even IT employees don’t truly understand. I recommend we take pause and look at what is really needed before deep implementation. Today, no one can afford to over-complicate or over-process their IT service model. Simplicity is key.
IT service will continue to evolve. I hope that the evolution includes a strong element of leadership, such that IT isn’t even seen as a ‘service provider.’ I hope that IT is perceived a driver of organizational success, similar to sales and marketing. Of course, IT will always provide for other departments, but that is true for every department. I believe we can be more than a service provider. IT can and should be about technology leadership in every organization.
Role of Technology
Technology is already key in guiding and monitoring IT services. I still believe that any organization needs to define their goals and processes first, prior to relying on any tech. The technology then becomes an enabler of what is really needed. That said, I am impressed by improvements in IT service technology platforms. The monitoring and analytical capabilities are exciting. Artificial intelligence (AI) is adding so many new ways to efficiently interact with and provide information to customers. This could result in improving our customer experience over time.
Piece of my Mind
This may be bold. But, I hope that IT advances the IT services mindset—away from being a service provider. I doubt that any department in an organization can be viewed as truly leading that organization when they are a ‘service provider’ or ‘support organization’. I do believe that working well with others, providing transparency in the work, being timely, and other good customer experience practices do lead to a good reputation. That can’t be ignored. But, to truly advance, IT needs to do more than that. We need to lead.