Wine & Technology

An article by: Evan Leonard, President, CHIPS Technology Group

It has been over 23 years since CHIPS began as a technology provider, and it seems that every five years our business has changed. It has become more challenging than ever before, but we are not alone. We have worked with so many organizations helping them make the transition from a traditional company to a technology company. Everyone has the same goal, leverage what they have to produce more, be more efficient, and add to the bottom line.

This past week I had the privilege of spending some time in Napa Valley at a technology conference. On one afternoon we were fortunate enough to be able to go on a few private wine tours. What struck me the most about these tours was the way technology was being embraced to make wine. Talk about a business that doesn’t seem like it would be technology dependent! They explained how they made wine in years past, and how significantly technology has changed the process. I’m not talking about how they pick the grapes, there are no robots roaming through the vineyards (who knows, maybe that’s next), but how they store and age the wine and overall run their business. Winemakers can control the temperature and humidity of every container, room, and storage unit, or can see their current inventory levels and location of their wines, all from their iPhone. The machines they use are all automated and applications are so much more sophisticated than in the past. Things like analytics and data management are leaned upon heavily, where they were never looked at before. True technology has not replaced exceptional pallets for making wine, but wineries are able to understand and anticipate their crops, yields, sales, and most importantly, profits better. 

Think about weather for a minute. It must be so difficult to be in a business where something you have absolutely no control over has such an impact on your bottom line. At the very least, you need to understand and analyze it. There is tons of data around weather prediction being harnessed today. I was recently at an IBM conference where the top data scientist from The Weather Company talked about all the additional monitors, sensors and data points they are working with today. Truly advanced businesses who are impacted by weather (like a winery for example), need to seek that information out and understand what is actionable and how to pivot in response to what they are seeing.

We have been on a journey with so many clients to help them understand how new applications, better process and enhanced flexibility can improve their business. For CHIPS it is not just about infrastructure, but helping organizations enter the new business world no matter what industry you are in. The way we all have to think about our businesses has to change and technology must be embraced. Even if your current clients do not insist on it - which they will, the next generation will demand it and it will be part of the hiring differentiator you need to capture the best talent. Reliance on technology is in our DNA, your only option is to embrace it.

Everyone must think of themselves as a technology company.