Keith Hopkinson is breeding mobile opportunities at animal science leaders Genus, read the full CIO Profile here.
By Mark Chillingworth
“It has been a satisfying journey transforming the IT and helping the business expand.
“We apply biotechnology to advance the science of animal breeding. Over the past 10,000 years all animals have been evolved by humans. The US is the most developed porcine business, with Europe catching up.”
“We have joint ventures in China and more planned. On the UK/China trade deal, we were approached but declined to be involved. We are already on the ground in China with nucleus herds, a large investment in technical expertise and developing relationships. Exporting elite genes in the form of semen would be logistically challenging and doesn’t fit our business model. It is telling that not a single dose of semen has yet left the UK for China.”
“For our customers that means they can meet the demand for pork, beef and milk. Growth in the Asian economy means the demand for protein is a multiple of the growth of income. Vietnam, South America and Korea are all seeing high rates in population, living standards and income. These countries need to be more efficient as farmers. In China, the herd sizes are very, very small. So they want to improve their genetics.”
“Agriculture is moving to a model of DNA-based genetic evaluation. Instead of waiting for a bull to grow up, you can look at its DNA and predict from its birth about how it will perform.” In the past, farmers had to wait five years, now Genus can provide that insight in months.
“We have seven billion people on the planet and they have to be fed and this way you can do more for less.”
“Within every country we operate, we have a mobile workforce that goes to the customers. Transactions on the move is a real opportunity for us to improve the business in terms of efficiency and speed.
“I have been in IT for 20 years and have not seen an opportunity as big as this to improve businesses,” he enthuses. Hopkinson says the recent developments that have driven up bandwidth, dropped the price of devices and improvements in usability have really made mobility a “will do” by everyone in the business world.
“Android devices for £100 opens up a lot more opportunities for people to be technology users. So apps for transactions, information and services that we will provide to our customers means we can be more customer-centric and efficient. The focus is to produce a set of apps that will sweep out all the old mobile technology and provide a modern platform for mobility.”
“To me it is an anathema to bring what you use at home into work. People are used to multiple devices. BYOD has largely happened as IT departments have been weak when the senior management want to use their own iPad. I’m making sure we are providing equipment that is on a par, so employees don’t have the desire of the new.”
“Windows 8 has been personally disappointing. Now the strategy has no Windows in it at all. It couldn’t be a more abrupt turnaround. We are now focusing on Android and iOS for delivering mobile applications and information.
“The Microsoft vision of Windows 8 being a platform for all formats just isn’t the case. There are three versions of Windows 8. Windows 8 was a backwards step for us and we will now stick with Windows 7. It is a shame.”
“There was an opportunity to reduce IT costs. We were able to reduce costs as we manage the operations much better by focusing on gaining value. At my first board presentation I said I didn’t need to increase the budget and they may not have believed it.”