Innovation runs in our veins. Our history has been one of great success for over 77 years, and we want to keep it that way. We want to continue to innovate in the baking industry. With all the innovation and transformative aspects that technology has brought to the industry, we knew that we could not continue to do this without the use of technology. The most important thing for us is that technology alone is not enough. We have to change the way we work. We need to impact the business through technology to drive change processes and increase the engagement of our teams.
DIrector of Corporate Systems
It all began in 1945 with a small bakery in Mexico City that sold four types of bread. Its trademark was a white bear wearing a chef’s hat, an apron and a loaf of bread under its arm.
From its humble beginnings, Grupo Bimbo has grown to become one of the world’s leading bakery companies, with 203 bakeries and operations in 33 countries. Its more than 10,000 products include popular brands such as Oroweat, Sara Lee, Entenmann’s and Takis.
Producing millions of loaves of bread, cakes and snacks every day with consistency and quality requires meticulous attention to metrics and data. That’s why several years ago, Grupo Bimbo began working with Microsoft to make digital transformation the foundation of its business strategy. The company adopted Microsoft Azure as its cloud provider and deployed Azure IoT technology in its GB Connected solution, which collects analytics from the company’s manufacturing devices and machines in real time.
In addition, Grupo Bimbo will implement Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability across its global operations. The solution will enable the company to integrate data from multiple sources across its operations and supply chain to gain a complete view of its sustainability efforts.
Juan Pajón, Director of Corporate Systems at Grupo Bimbo, talks about the investments they are making in data and technology to build on the 77-year-old company’s success and grow into the future.
Why did Grupo Bimbo decide to embark on this digital transformation? What did you hope to change or improve?
Innovation runs in our veins. Our history has been one of great success for over 77 years, and we want to keep it that way. We want to continue to innovate in the baking industry.
With all the innovation and transformative aspects that technology has brought to the industry, we knew that we could not continue to do this without the use of technology. The most important thing for us is that technology alone is not enough. We have to change the way we work. We need to impact the business through technology to drive change processes and increase the engagement of our teams.
This technology transformation will enable us to be more agile and responsive to market trends and needs. Most importantly, we will be working with our data, which will be ready to be consumed and turned into business information and insights.
How do you define digital transformation and what does it mean for Grupo Bimbo?
For me, digital transformation is only valuable if we can have a business impact on the company, to make it grow and win the market battles. It’s not just about automation or digitalisation, there has to be a commercial reason behind it.
In the next few years, we are going to focus on our consumer-centric strategy, and we can only do that if we use data - not just our own data, but data related to our consumer profile. This strategy will be very important for us.
We are also working on what we call “frontline obsession”. As part of this effort, we are working on several strands. It’s very important for us to make life easier for people on the frontline and to make sure that we can use technology to help our sales people focus and serve customers - and do it much more efficiently. And the same goes for our people on the production line. We are also working hard to digitise our day-to-day activities.
What are the strands you mentioned in your efforts to obsess over the front line at Grupo Bimbo?
One of them is data. It consists of cleansing and identifying data anomalies so that they can be addressed much more proactively and quickly. The other is the value chain. We are working on initiatives to make production lines more efficient in our manufacturing and maintenance processes.
This will be complemented by our GB Connected Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) programme, which will generate actions based on more real-time information about production efficiency. Everyone in the business, from the C-suite to the worker bringing bread fresh from the oven, trusts the data, bringing a 21st century sense of wonder to the production of a traditional food product.
How does Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability impact Grupo Bimbo’s digital efforts and sustainability goals?
By 2025, we want our operations to use 100% renewable electricity and by 2050, we want to be a net zero carbon company. We want to ensure that our industrial operations have no impact on the planet, so we will use clean energy. We also want to reduce food waste.
Sustainability has been a very important consideration as we have worked more closely with Microsoft in recent years. We understand that being environmentally responsible is not something we do because we have to, it’s the way we do business. And I think we share a lot of values, ambitions and goals with Microsoft in terms of sustainability.
We have partnered with Microsoft to create the Cloud for Sustainability solution, which is really important to us. We are in the process of rolling it out across our global operations, which will help us to better control and visualise our sustainability goals for the future.
What have been the main challenges for Grupo Bimbo so far in its digital transformation journey?
One of the challenges was to make sure that we worked with our change management team to ensure the successful adoption of new technologies, because in some ways we had to change the way we worked. We were used to working in a local world where we customised and tweaked tools. And now, in the new world of SaaS (Software as a Service), adoption is the key word. So the cultural aspect is important.
For a transformation to be successful, we need to pay attention to three fundamental aspects: people, processes and technology. It is not enough to invest in technology if we do not invest in our people and change the way we work.
Digital transformation brings many positive things, but it also brings a new challenge in terms of cybersecurity. We used to work mainly in corporate offices, and now we work more often than ever from different locations, such as our homes, canteens or our operational sites, such as bakeries or distribution centres. So we now need to protect ourselves across a much wider environment. We have implemented the Microsoft Security Suite, which has helped us to ensure that as we grow we do so responsibly and securely.