KWS Saat Launches a Digital Transformation with Far-Reaching Impact through the Worldwide Beet Industry and Beyond
New technology seeds new analytical insights
KWS Saat, one of the world’s leading seed producers, has been in business for over 165 years, so the company is no stranger to innovation—from delivering productive and resilient seeds for the future to evolve their technology to better support everyone from business leaders to R&D teams to farmers in the field.
When it comes to crop productivity, strategic planning is critical. KWS is always looking at least ten years down the road to make sure they are developing the seeds that will meet the demands of consumers, farmers, and the climate—in all 80+ countries they serve—producing the maximum yield with minimal resources. To “seed the future,” as the KWS motto promises, the company relies on a myriad of diverse data sources from all over the world, from the sprawling acres of sugar beet fields down to the invisible genomes of tiny individual beet seeds.
KWS knew that the job of collecting, managing, analyzing, and accessing the data their teams relied on to make crucial decisions needed to be streamlined and updated for a world that was headed to the cloud. KWS embarked on a digital transformation and looked to SAP to facilitate the journey.
This episode of the Better Together series features KWS Saat and their sweeping, ambitious digital transformation, enabled by SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP), that will impact not only operations at KWS but also farmers, sugar and biofuel producers and even consumers all over the world.
We spoke with our guests from KWS Saat SE & Co. KGaA, Thomas Günther, Expert Hub Lead, SAP Basics, and Dr. Priyanka Parvathi, Market Analyst, Business Development.
- Podcast: Tamara McCleary, CEO of Thulium, sat down with Thomas Günther and Priyanka Parvathi to learn more about KWS’s digital transformation and how the sugar beet industry is embedded in the global economy.
- LinkedIn session: I spoke with Thomas Günther about the nitty-gritty of undertaking a digital transformation and his advice for companies embarking on technological overhauls.
Here are some key insights from these conversations:
Play the Long Game
KWS knows that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Developing a new seed variety takes at least 3-4 years, and overhauling a large, 20-year-old, legacy technology system can’t happen overnight. The company started its journey to the cloud with a hybrid approach enabled by the flexibility of SAP BTP and plans to move to SAP S/4HANA soon. Thomas Günther reminded us that a journey of a thousand miles “starts with the first step,” so he advises, “just do it.”
But digital transformation is about more than technological innovation. It’s also, Günther told us, “a cultural change.” Organizations must be mindful that a shift is also happening on the human level. “You have to establish new processes, and you have to teach people.” Changing mindsets and learning new skills and habits are essential for a successful digital transformation.
Maximize the Impact of Critical Data
Regarding KWS’s digital transformation, Priyanka Parvathi told us that the company’s priority was enabling their business leaders to make “data-driven, business-informed decisions,” so having reliable data was “paramount.” These data-driven decisions reverberate far beyond KWS conference rooms—seed yields impact not only the farms KWS serves but also the larger sugar and biofuel markets and the end consumers at the supermarket or the gas pump.
Günther explained that KWS is already seeing the impact of its digital transformation and hybrid cloud environment with vastly improved data access through a cloud dashboard for the company’s workforce, including its R&D, sales, and finance departments.
Access is Key
For Parvathi, having the correct data available to the right person at the right time is another huge benefit of KWS’s digital transformation. In the past, when the sales, R&D, or seed breeding teams needed data, they had to wait while she found the spreadsheet that housed what they were looking for. Facilitated by SAP BTP, each team can now access the needed data whenever needed, with tap-of-a-finger mobile access coming soon.
KWS customers also rely on the timely delivery of data-driven insights; Parvathi and Günther explained that farmers get information, delivered by a mobile app, about precisely what seed is suitable for their soil, mobile weather updates, or notifications about when to spray certain herbicides. Accessing and sharing data has helped drive a new business model for KWS that invites a deeper, trusted connection to the source that matters most: the sugar beet farmers. This is digital transformation at work.
Interested in more stories about the intersection of digital innovation and sustainability initiatives? Check out:
- Ecobat: Powering battery-operated mobility for a cleaner, greener planet
- NS Agro: Helping an agricultural business grow with the power of augmented analytics
Visit sap.com/BTP to find the whole Better Together: Customer Conversations series, and sign up to receive upcoming episodes and a year-end series recap delivered to your e-mail.
Let us know if there are topics you’d like to learn more about and questions you’d like us to explore. Please contact us if you’d like to be a guest on a future episode.