Jairo Hernández, the Sales Manager at Gregal Soluciones Informáticas, explained to us how the company has evolved to be able to provide different technological solutions for the agri-food sector.
The need for technology in the fruit and vegetable growing sector is undeniable; what percentage does this business represent in your company’s overall figures?
Gregal is a company that was established to provide business solutions for the fruit and vegetable growing sector. As the years have gone by, and following our specialisation aimed at digitally transforming the agri-food sector in Spain, we have been incorporating solutions for other subsectors related to agriculture: companies that market plant protection products, fertilisers and tools, temporary employment agencies that have a high percentage of services devoted to the sector, companies that provide agricultural services, etc.
On the other hand, as a firm specializing in HR, we also have clients outside the sector, with our payroll, clocking system, employee portal… Even so, we could say that 95% of our business comes from the agricultural sector and its auxiliary industry.
IT solutions is a very global concept, what are Gregal’s specialities?
If you had asked me this question four years ago, I would have said we are specialists in the implementation of business solutions (ERP) for the agri-food sector.
Today, our focus has changed. We are partners with Microsoft and we work with the entire ecosystem of solutions that this gives us: Microsoft Dynamics for business solutions; Microsoft 365 to improve productivity and employee collaboration; Microsoft PowerBI as a business intelligence and control panel driver, cyber safety, e-commerce, web developments and digital marketing actions, global solutions for HR in the company, document manager, etc.
We are the 360 technological partner supporting the digital transformation of agricultural companies.
Can technology be implemented throughout the entire process (from farm to fork)?
Not only can it be done, but it should be done.
Mainly for two reasons: as a guarantee of the quality, safety and traceability of the produce that is going to reach the end consumers, and because it is the best tool to achieve the company’s business goals.
In the fields, we are giving companies the necessary tools to monitor and manage their crops in a more exact way. These tools allow the costs to be controlled down to the last cent, detecting problems early on, planning harvests, sowing and picking, increasing production and quality, etc.
In the processing and/or preparation centres we play an important role in improving the efficiency of the production processes, in cost savings, as well as in the food safety of the produce. We have monitoring and traceability systems, which allow the source, production process and distribution to be tracked.
What are the main advantages of using Gregal’s services?
Gregal’s main virtue as a company is the pairing of our team’s sectorial knowhow with Microsoft’s technology.
As partners with Microsoft, we have access to a wide range of cutting-edge tools and technologies (cloud services, cognitive artificial intelligence services, productivity tools, ERP with all the applications necessary for a company, development platforms etc.) that we apply to cover the needs of the agrifood sector.
We perfectly understand our clients’ business, which allows us to help them to improve their business goals.
How did the Covid-19 pandemic affect the digital transformation of fruit and vegetable growing companies?
The pandemic has had a significant impact on the digital transformation of the fruit and vegetable growing companies. Some of the changes and effects that we have been able to see are the following: an increase in the demand for digital channels due to the mobility restrictions and social distancing steps. The adoption of collaboration and online communication tools to maintain internal and external communications, coordinating the operations and collaborating with other employees, suppliers and clients. Along with the digitalisation of internal management.
What is the technological future of the fruit and vegetable growing sector?
The technological growth that the sector has experienced in recent years is not going to be significant with respect to the new wave that will arrive over the next few months: the application of AI (artificial intelligence) in the management processes: forecasts for demand, harvest, improvements in the monitoring of the traceability and safety, for decision-making…. Tools which, if they are implemented in a correct, strategic way, could give a fruit and vegetable growing company a significant competitive advantage on the market.
However, it is important to emphasise that the adoption of AI systems also sets forth challenges, such as the need to have experts in AI, ethical and responsible management of data and the need to tackle concerns about privacy and security.