FRoSTA is a midsize German company in the frozen food industry. The company, based in Bremerhaven, is actively leveraging intelligent technologies to drive a digital transformation across the company. FRoSTA’s customers can already track the products’ supply chain and see their carbon footprint. And new services are expected to follow soon.
Ben Windhorst, director of the Digital Transformation Office and IT, is fully committed to driving digitization in line with the business strategy defined by the company’s management board.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Ben about his vision, plans, and execution.
Richard Howells: How did you start your digitization journey?
Ben Windhorst: FRoSTA realized that transformation extends beyond technology through to culture and people. I see this journey as being instrumental to the growth and development of the company and valuable for anyone leading that change. Through change management, FRoSTA pursues a clear strategy, which gives all employees the opportunity to be part of the transformation process.
RH: How does the cloud platform support sustainable change management?
BW: FRoSTA is making sustainable and lasting changes ensuring this goes smoothly and requires employees to understand and commit to them. This is the only way to achieve agility and economic success. In every field of expertise, we established a “digital transformer” as the link between technology and the enterprise that helps travelers on the journey enter the new world.
When I’m asked, “why did you choose to a cloud platform for this digital journey,” I respond, “One of the most important reasons is that we see integration holistically. We need to unify all the areas we change within our digital transformation, moving to a cloud platform enables us to do that.”
RH: How do you make processes digitally innovative, and where do you leverage technologies?
BW: We are working on automating processes that were analog, rigid, and fragile so that they become digital and can leverage new technologies such as blockchain or artificial intelligence (AI) as a consistent further development of automation. It is only when the processes are highly optimized that they become more efficient.
There are numerous use cases where the use of intelligent technologies has led to more speed. For example, blockchain technology allows FRoSTA to safely provide much more information from the field to the end consumer. In the past, there were challenges like security and others. With the blockchain, these are overcome, which supports our company’s vision of transparency and sustainability.
RH: FRoSTA was a pioneer in setting up a sustainability strategy. Way back in 2003, the company introduced the Frosta Purity Requirement. Since then, you have only used products without additives and flavorings. How did your company make production and logistics more sustainable?
BW: In the beginning, this was controversial, as our sales numbers initially went down. Today, customers trust our commitment to their values. We are thrilled that the current revenue has increased to around half a billion euros.
We support our strategy with both technology and culture. We want to provide even more transparent and sustainable information on our products. For FRoSTA, this means tracking the ingredients across the entire supply chain. All the way from seeds to the field to the bag, it is possible to trace where the ingredients come from and what happens to them. We are digitizing and driving new value from information in our transparent supply chain visibility to customers.
Creating the platform necessary to meet the company’s goals will be one of our first steps with which we are not only optimizing processes but also integrate them. We are pushing this endeavor forward by expanding the platform further with other integrated digital supply chain solutions.
RH: FRoSTA is creating an innovation platform that integrates IoT and analytics technologies to make FRoSTA an intelligent company. Once all processes are optimally digitized and optimally automated, you say you want to innovate even further beyond blockchain and AI, with new services that FRoSTA is planning. How does the cloud platform make FRoSTA ready for innovation?
BW: In order to be ready for innovation, we have centrally implemented the cloud platform and an intelligent ERP as the foundational building blocks. It is also essential that we get everything from a single provider, that everything is connected, and that everything works together in order to create synergies based on it to become ready for the innovations of tomorrow.
RH: FRoSTA customers can already find details about the country of origin and where used ingredients originate on every FRoSTA product. How can you provide the information that is available to customers today in a digital manner and thus faster?
BW: Tomorrow’s customers want to know immediately about the product or the ingredients. Today, we collect data, for example, on the country of origin. In the future, we want to provide more details about every ingredient we put into a product. This requires greater transparency, and even more data that we need to access and capture ourselves. The new platform will provide the combination of internal data across FRoSTA, along with access to data from third parties to provide a complete picture of the deep supply chain.
I compare it to a relay race. If the handover is not good, the individual can run as fast as he can, but the team will not be successful.
The company gives the products a carbon footprint and publishes it on its website via the entire supply chain – from the production of ingredients via the retailer to the end user. Even the glass factory in Bremerhaven supplying jars for our products connects and ensures that sustainability becomes transparent across the entire supply chain.
RH: FRoSTA plans its future not only with internal business process data. The company also wants to integrate suppliers, customers, and employees more closely into the FRoSTA world. How do you see digitization as an opportunity and a challenge?
BW: This is an opportunity for FRoSTA to reinvent itself. Moreover, the cloud platform along with intelligent ERP deliver the technology to employees, customers, and suppliers for many new opportunities and completely new business models will emerge as a result. But this is also a challenge as everyone has to change.
If you are able to pass on all information from the entire supply chain to the customer you will be able to create new services, solutions and new benefits [which will increase customer satisfaction and loyalty].
We want to reach out to the end user in order to produce exactly the product for him that he has an appetite for. The new platform will make it possible to implement very personal customer desires; this allows FRoSTA to produce individual products and deliver them within short time.
Reinventing companies into intelligent enterprises
Whether the enterprise has been owner-managed for generations or existing for a few years in the marketplace, large or small, regionally active or globally positioned, there are incredibly fascinating companies driving innovative ideas. They all combine entrepreneurial courage, ingenuity, and the ability to quickly meet new challenges with new answers.
Many of these medium-size companies are striving to become an intelligent enterprise. They are reinventing themselves and taking themselves to the next level with the help of technology. They are the ones that build the future.
Watch the video: Ben Windhorst, director, Digital Transformation Office and IT, at FRoSTA AG talks about the company’s digital journey (in Geman).