Benelux CIO interview: Benoît Dewaele, Vandemoortele

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CIO of Ghent-headquartered meals crew says the IT department’s fundamental challenges are bettering digital customer experiences, helping put into effect automation in crops and strengthening cyber security

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  • David Benady

Published: 14 Jun 2021 9: 32

Benoît Dewaele, chief files officer at Belgian meals crew Vandemoortele, is having a undercover agent to connect with the chefs of Europe.  

They’re key customers for the crew’s differ of frozen bakery items, margarines, culinary oils and fat. From La Pâtisserie Du Chef premium desserts to St-Villepré butter, these treats are widely passe in European catering.  

Operators of restaurants, bars, motels and cafes typically purchase Vandemoortele manufacturers thru wholesalers and retailers. But discovering methods to rob with them straight is key to securing repeat business and defending them in the loop about new products and affords. 

“It comes down to getting contact with influential leads,” Dewaele tells Pc Weekly. “We want to search out methods thru social media or mass marketing and marketing campaigns to purchase them, then we now want to nurture them and inspire them and create put awareness on our firm and branded websites, to have a extra or much less inner most verbal change with them thru portals.”

Even supposing keen customers is now no longer strictly a job for IT, Dewaele says his crew work in cessation collaboration with marketing and marketing to attend promote products digitally and boost customer journey – for conclude-shoppers moreover to retailers and wholesalers. 

Dewaele oversees a centralised IT department that delivers services and products to operations and sales areas of work across 12 European worldwide locationsWith 2020 revenues of €1.2bn, Vandemoortele has 30 production crops across Europe and is recent in the US. The IT crew, based mostly at the firm’s head place of job in Ghent, Belgium, contains about 40 in-dwelling workers and a same change of out of doors experts.  

The predominant challenges facing the IT unit are boosting the digital customer journey, helping put into effect automation in crops and, in spite of all the pieces, cyber security.  

“It’s a ways no longer at all times so unheard of know-how that is slowing us down, nonetheless its adoption by of us in the organisation”

Benoît Dewaele, Vandemoortele

Dewaele believes IT has made main achievements in these areas, nonetheless acknowledges there may maybe be a want to pass extra snappy. “It’s a ways no longer at all times so unheard of know-how that is slowing us down, nonetheless its adoption by of us in the organisation,” he says. “Of us nowadays are peaceable working in a extra classical marketing and marketing and communications atmosphere and so that they want to search out a manner to get accustomed to digital marketing and marketing and digital verbal change, which is extra in maintaining with tools and files.” 

Even so, he’s gay with IT’s newest successes. “We efficiently delivered a mammoth business transformation mission where we launched a European present firm, splitting up our business entity from the production entities,” he says.   

Another critical mission is unifying the firm’s customer relationship management (CRM) systems which have sprouted up over time, partly thru a collection of acquisitions.  

“In operations, we now have a backbone for warehouse administration, we now have a backbone for plant upkeep, we now have all business activity standardised on SAP,” says Dewaele. “But where we are very scattered is in CRM. There we now have four or five a selection of systems dating from the previous and now we’re cleansing it up to one central CRM map.  

“For us, that is fundamental for the reason that moment you will must always hope to realize digital marketing and marketing and create up portals, it’s miles fundamental to have one CRM map in the lend a hand conclude, in every other case you conclude up connecting to 5 or 6 a selection of systems, which makes issues extra refined.” 

Automating labour-intensive ingredients of the firm’s operations will most certainly be a main activity at Vandemoortele. This is essentially in areas equivalent to packaging, warehousing and checking products. Inspections of products are peaceable largely manual, so the firm is investing in visible inspection automation. It’s also rising warehouse automation with automatic guided autos and placing in elevated automation for the packaging strains.  

“The automation of engineering in production is essentially performed by a separate department, nonetheless those machines, those closed systems want to mix with the backbone SAP map – that is where IT comes into the image,” says Dewaele. “We prepare the community in production and we prepare the connectivity and integration with the crew systems,” he mentioned.  

By manner of demonstrating the value that IT delivers to the business, he aspects to the gentle transition to work from dwelling (WFH) one day of lockdown.  

“Technically we were willing [for WFH] which capacity of the selections we had made in the previous,” says Dewaele. “We were on [Microsoft] Location of business 365, we had virtual desktop infrastructure in divulge to distribute legacy capabilities and we had security and multifactor authentication to safely get right to use our capabilities from dwelling. It used to be conceptually already that that you just can maybe be think from the initiating so that you just can make money working from dwelling.”  

The state of the pandemic has been operational in divulge of technical, he says, for the reason that sample of request changed as restaurants closed and of us ordered products thru e-commerce.  

One other necessary IT mission for Vandemoortele has been migrating computing to Microsoft Azure cloud services and products. The firm migrated its SAP occasion with satellite tv for computer systems (the suite of systems across the core SAP manager) into a cloud datacentre. 

Migrating to the general public cloud

This has saved money on the feeble datacentre contract, even when Dewaele concedes that migrating to the general public cloud can figure out extra costly in the lengthy streak. However the advantages lie in the flexibleness and innovation that public cloud brings. This also helps own workers abilities and creates job pleasure.   

Dewaele, who has a level in civil engineering and mechanics, held several senior roles earlier than changing into CIO at Vandemoortele in January 2019. He spent six years at Accenture imposing SAP for various companies and processes, he used to be a present chain engineer, mission manager and IT director at pharma ingredients firm Capsugel, and he also spent five years as an application manager at chocolate maker Barry Callebaut 

Launch air work, he is taking beneath consideration cycling, skiing and padel, a tennisdelight in racquet game performed in fours which has enjoyed huge growth in Belgium one day of the pandemic as one of the most few crew actions allowed one day of lockdown. He particularly values “après-sport” – having a drink with company after a game.  

For the lengthy streak, Dewaele believes IT departments must peaceable focal point on business-critical tasks, in divulge of dedicating time and effort to managing day-to-day operations. Techniques must peaceable change into easy-to-operate commodities handled by workers in the a selection of departments, freeing IT consultants for extra critical work. This means boosting automation while rationalising and standardising IT services and products to search out financial savings.

“My rate range stays mounted, nonetheless the extra financial savings I create on infrastructure in running actions, the extra I will spend on tasks,” he says. 

There’ll be many critical tasks for IT to focal point on in coming years – but in the end, this may maybe well maybe be the chefs of Europe who book Vandemoortele’s fortunes.

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