Monsanto CIO shares ways technology is being used to improve customer experience

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Recently we sat down with Monsanto CIO Jim Swanson to ask him a few questions about the biggest technology problems he faced when he started and how he uses IT to provide value to Monsanto customers.

Watch the video or read the transcript here:

The Enterprisers Project (TEP): What was the biggest change you made when you started as CIO?

Swanson: So when we looked at our strategy, the first thing we had to do was modernize and scale our base. We had invested pretty aggressively on grow platforms, but we had built this technical debt in the company over the last few years as we harvested efficiencies out of our infrastructure but didn't invest in the future. And so one of the first things we did was a program we initiated called, "Modernize, Secure and Scale our base." We improved our cyber-security, improved modernization of our platform and asset, promoted migration to cloud, and we moved work packages to a cloud-based computing — and that was a really important element. It was the foundation we needed to drive agility, scale and speed on top of that foundation.

TEP: How are you using technology to improve the customer experience?

Swanson: When you think about trying to answer the question for growers around their key decisions, we have a lot of agronomic knowledge that we bring to the table to support them, so we do that through different channels. We can do that through some of our mobile or web applications. We can do that through our call center. We can do that through distributors. We could do that through our sales rep. So how do we enable the information and technology across all those channels? That's what we are actually doing today, whether it be through our platform, whether it be through our agronomics services platform; something called Climate and Climate Pro that we deliver through one of our companies that we acquired recently. Whether it be through customer information that we share across our call center, so we have better information around our customers. And we do that globally, and the interesting thing about doing that globally — you have different technologies you need to deploy. So if we are working with a small grower in India, we create services to think about their small acres of land and how they grow that most sustainably, most efficiently to increase their profit and increase their value. We use SMS text messaging to be able to do that because that is the platform they are on. If we are in the U.S., we use higher-end mobile capabilities to deliver services to them; we're working with our distributors to provide agronomic advice to help them best support their customers. So we are connecting our channels, connecting our data and allowing us to deliver information at the right time for the customers where they need it in their growing season, based on decisions they need to make every single year.

Nano Serwich is Editor of The Enterprisers Project and Global Awareness Content Manager at Red Hat.