Bohdan Kryvitskyi is a Chief Innovation Officer at IMC S.A., a vertically-integrated agroholding with operations in Ukraine. In his interview to IAMO, he outlines the importance of digital transformation of agricultural sector, and shares his experience of adopting technologies at IMC.
IAMO: IMC is among those Ukrainian agroholdings that are intensively implementing digital technologies to manage business processes. How do you identify and select digital solutions for your company?
Bohdan Kryvitskyi: I can hardly imagine a single workday at IMC without using modern technologies. Digital tools are deeply integrated into production and management structure of our company at all levels. For instance, our tractors are equipped with digital terminals, which aim to facilitate and control performance indicators of tractor drivers. At the same time, our top managers can easily analyze the company’s key metrics on a tablet in the office. Drivers behind using such tools might be quite specific but the overarching aim is always the same – efficiency improvement.
IAMO: Which factors are to be considered when adopting digital solutions? What are the key drivers behind implementing new technologies at IMC?
Bohdan Kryvitskyi: The first and key factor is economic efficiency. We want to be sure that a certain solution results in financial benefits. In our company, every potentially interesting technology is thoroughly tested. In addition, we always conduct proof of concept before implementing any technology in production.
IAMO: Do employees of IMC or local communities in the regions of your operations show any resistance to implementation of new technologies? If yes, how does the company’s management address this issue?
Bohdan Kryvitskyi: Indeed, agriculture is a very conservative industry, and Ukrainian agricultural companies often face resistance to new technologies, arising in various forms, on the part of employees. It takes time for people to realize that, although getting used to innovations might be difficult, technologies ultimately bring about the benefits that outweigh the downsides. We are constantly communicating the importance of innovations to our staff, and we see the result as their attitude to technologies really improves.
IAMO: What are the challenges of digital transformation for your company? In your opinion, what are three most important conditions for successful digital transformation of the agri-food sector in the future?
Bohdan Kryvitskyi: The first major challenge is that successful implementation of new technologies requires a really careful technology selection. Currently, there is a lot of hype around the AgTech innovations: a large number of technology providers aim to solely capitalize on the trends. Lots of solutions with no proven efficiency benefits have already become commercial in Ukraine.
The second issue is poor infrastructure in rural areas, especially concerning high speed internet. Infrastructure development is essential for monitoring the quality of operations, as well as for implementation of unmanned technologies in the nearest future.
Additionally, the quality of AgTech consulting services remains rather low in Ukraine. As a result, agricultural producers need to develop their own in-house expertise, which does not always make sense from the cost efficiency perspective.