Richard Villaverde

Richard Villaverde, CIO CAPSA FOOD: "Investment in technology must be accompanied by a clear commitment to education, training and talent".

Who is Richard Villaverde Baron?

Richard Villaverde is the CIO - Responsible for ICT Services, Security and Technological Innovation at CAPSA FOOD (Central Lechera Asturiana, Larsa, ATO, Vega de Oro, Innova Food Ingredients, Flor de Burgos, Asana...), a leading company in the market national dairy company with an international presence in more than 40 countries and whose purpose is to give future to the livestock partner by offering natural products and services that improve people's health and quality of life, in a sustainable environment.

According to Villaverde “Central Lechera Asturiana, our main brand, has always been present in my life since I was a child (in my home, school, university, in the media, sports...) so belonging to this company is like being in my second home and I try to transmit the same level of commitment, motivation and enthusiasm to my team”.

Since his start at CAPSA FOOD (2005) he has had the opportunity to have held various roles within the IT organisation and even in some other areas of the company. Prior to joining CAPSA FOOD, he worked in the field of technological consultancy, implementing different business management platforms (ERP, CRM, BI...).

It is clear to us that technology is a "key enabler" to achieve our business objectives

"I have been a privileged spectator of CAPSA FOOD's transformation process. It is clear to us that technology is a "key enabler" to achieve our business objectives and it is present in all the processes of the value chain, from the collection of raw materials to making the product available to our customers and consumers. Undoubtedly, it is a lever on which we rely to be much stronger and more competitive," has pointed out Richard Villaverde.

What are the main challenges facing the agri-food sector in the process of digital transformation?

To a greater or lesser degree, all industries in the sector are transforming and this process must be accompanied by a firm commitment to investment in technology.

One of the main challenges we face is the digitalisation of our customers and consumers, which means that we have to adapt more quickly to their needs. And their needs are increasingly demanding, complex and volatile.

If we want to play a leading role in the food of the future, we must be close to the technology of the future in order to respond to the very important challenges facing our sector, such as:

  • Ensuring traceability, transparency and food safety.
  • Developing a more efficient, automated industry committed to sustainability throughout its value chain.
  • Responding with agility to the new needs of our consumers who demand more health-oriented and much more personalised products and services.
  • Innovating jointly with the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the Food-Tech sector.

But at the heart of this transformation must always be the employees who are the true enablers of technology, who, based on their knowledge, are able to maximise their contribution of value. In this sense, Richard Villaverde has pointed out that "at CAPSA FOOD, we are technology agnostics and believers in people. Investment in technology must be accompanied by a clear commitment to education, training and talent; this is a differentiating factor".

What is CAPSA FOOD's IT organisation like?

At present, the CAPSA FOOD IT team is made up of 14 people who support more than 600 employees who make use of the information systems and technologies, located in our factories (Granda, Cueva de Molín, Lugo, Villagarcía, Zarzalejo and Menorca) and warehouses.

We are an "ambidextrous" department, made up of professionals experienced in the maintenance and evolution of the "core" systems and infrastructures of the organisation, but we have also recently incorporated other profiles that will give us a leap in quality to face the technological innovation that exists in the market with greater guarantees of success. We are in charge of the technological environment of the "transatlantic", but we also have "launchers" for the exploration of new "digital opportunities".

Our aim is to be the technological partner of all CAPSA FOOD teams, and to this end we offer a catalogue of 360º services grouped into the following areas:

  • Consultancy and business applications.
  • Infrastructure and communications.
  • Cybersecurity.
  • Technological Innovation Office.
  • Web development.

We strive every day to be a lever of competitiveness for CAPSA FOOD, relying on our internal customers and technology partners.

How is CAPSA FOOD dealing with the adoption of this new "technological revolution"? Which ones are your lines of interest?

"As a complement to all the projects that we continuously develop on our core IT architecture, at CAPSA FOOD we have a digital innovation programme whose mission is to analyse and adopt those technologies that have an impact on the generation of value for the business," says Richard Villaverde.

At present, we have a roadmap of projects 2021-2023 which are developed through the following lines of interest:

  • Automation and digitisation of processes: for instance, through the implementation of a BPM (Business Process Management) platform for the orchestration of administrative processes, development of software robots (RPA) for the automated management of repetitive tasks, digital signature portal, paperless factory, deployment of OCR solutions with AI for text recognition...
  • Connected, sustainable and intelligent industry: I would highlight the deployment of the MES system in our plants, the update of our warehouse management software, the solution for the mobilisation of maintenance processes, APP for the optimisation of the delivery service to customers...
  • Customer and digital consumer: we have made progress in the design of mobile applications for sales teams, in the development of ecommerce for our 39ytú business line, a new customer service platform, a "Trusted Cold Chain" pilot for the validation of blockchain technology as a solution to guarantee traceability during the export process...

We are focusing on other important areas such as cybersecurity, data governance and training

"And transversally to the entire digital innovation programme, in collaboration with our HR Department, we are focusing on other important areas such as cybersecurity, data governance and training, where through the CAPSA FOOD virtual campus platform our employees have access to more than 40 tutorials and pills on digitisation", highlights Richard Villaverde.

What aspects do you consider most relevant to accelerate the digitalisation processes in the agri-food sector?

The main thing is to have a strategy, a plan, an ordered model where the objectives you are pursuing with the digitisation process are clear, the what and the why. It is also very important to surround yourself with quality partners who are committed to your project. "We need to have this exercise completed before we dive into the pool with major investments in technology," says Richard Villaverde.

At CAPSA FOOD, we believe that it is essential to boost the digitalisation of the entire supply chain, implementing collaboration platforms with suppliers, logistics operators and customers in general. But it must be a shared challenge, in which all industries, administrations and technology centres are aligned.

Another aspect to consider is that, in our sector, where industries tend to be quite traditional and most of them have complex and outdated technological environments, we need to undertake a comprehensive plan to renew the industrial "legacy" (infrastructure and software) and be able to securely integrate IT management systems with those of the OT environment in order to take advantage of the benefits of both dimensions.

We also have to see how the aid being promoted by the European Union materialises, but it should be an opportunity for all of us to achieve sectoral improvements that would be impossible on an individual basis. The good news is that a large part of the funds, approximately 35%, are earmarked for accelerating digitalisation.

"Finally, we must provide training in new digital skills not only to employees in the agri-food industry, but also at university level, and be able to pass this new knowledge on to the industrial fabric," concludes Richard Villaverde.