Smithfield Foods: many brands, a single mission

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Today’s post was written by Mansour Zadeh, retiring senior vice president and global chief information officer and current senior advisor to Smithfield Foods.

Smithfield Foods is known for responsible operations, transparency and innovation. As the world’s largest pork producer, we strive for excellence in every facet of our business. But with so many employees operating in so many locations around the world, it can be tough for everyone to be on the same page.

Our aim is to operate holistically as “One Smithfield,” and we’re making progress toward that objective. When I joined the company in 2001, we had more than 20 operating companies worldwide, all with different business processes and technology systems to support them. Those operating companies were doing fine on their own, but we weren’t running efficiently as a comprehensive organization. We needed to take advantage of economies of scale and provide all our employees with the same capabilities so that they could work together more successfully.

To operate as one, we needed modern technology across the whole company, with a focus on communication. With so many divisions and operating companies, even straightforward tasks like coordinating meetings, schedules and distribution lists were difficult. Beyond those fundamentals, we also didn’t have the luxury of videoconferencing and other features that would help support teamwork. We have a powerful corporate brand, and we needed our internal operations to unify and better reflect that brand as an effective global enterprise.

When cloud computing emerged onto the technology scene, we recognized all the benefits it offered a multinational company like ours. We immediately embraced the cloud and started to use Google tools for communication and collaboration. But when it came time to make an enterprise decision about our long-term cloud technology platform, we chose to adopt Microsoft Office 365. We saw that Microsoft had more experience with enterprise needs, such as governance and account relationships, and a clear technology path for the future. We also felt as though Office 365 fit into our environment better and that adopting it would be an easier transition for the bulk of our user community. Plus, Microsoft provided us with a greater value from our investment and showed us its commitment to a strong partnership.

In the past, I didn’t believe that Microsoft was an innovative company, but Office 365 has certainly changed my impression. I’ve been surprised by the level of ingenuity and the pace of change that I’ve seen with Microsoft. Improvements in the video call quality and flexibility of Skype for Business Online, the rich features in Microsoft SharePoint Online, the addition of mobile device management capabilities—there’s so much to benefit from. We’re expanding our use of Office 365 worldwide and even going beyond that suite of capabilities to adopt Microsoft Azure for various workloads. Our plan is to move as much to the Microsoft cloud as possible so we have flexibility in scaling our computing and storage needs, and can ultimately deliver on our core competencies: improving the quality of our business data and making it easily and securely accessible to our people.

Best of all, we now have technology that supports our employees’ ability to work closely together, no matter where they are around the world or what device they’re using. With so many integrated communications and collaboration capabilities at our disposal, we’re steadily breaking down the silos that hampered teamwork, and we’re confident that we’ll soon realize our goal of One Smithfield.

Read the case study to learn more about how this global food producer became One Smithfield with the help of Office 365.

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