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Manjit Singh, Chiquita Brands
Chiquita Brands International isn't just about bananas. It also about pineapple, avocados, grapes, melons, bagged salads, healthy snacks, and smoothies sold and sourced across the globe. It's a low-margin business that faces tremendous cost pressure, given the short shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables. That business backdrop shapes the actions of CIO Manjit Singh and his team, as they set out over the past several years to lower IT operating costs.
One way has been to have his software providers host and manage select applications. It started with LeanLogistics' transportation management software in an on-demand model in 2006 and continued with on-demand Infor for managing parts of the manufacturing process for its salad business. More recently, Singh signed on with Workday for the human resources software to manage 23,000 employees working on six continents. Singh likes the software-as-a-service model because it lets him scale his use of workforce software as needed, scaling up and down as Chiquita employs migratory workers in the growing regions of Central America.
Finding ways to run Chiquita's operations more efficiently and inexpensively is foremost to Singh's IT strategy, and he's not afraid to vocalize his opinions about how the software industry can better helps its customers. He has pushed SaaS vendors on what they need to do to evolved the model to let SaaS and on-site integrate better without lumping costs back on the customer. He has pushed conventional vendors to adapt their approaches to licensed software maintenance costs. A bottom-line-minded CIO with high expectations of his own IT team and his suppliers is just what a company like Chiquita, with a just-in-time supply chain and tough global markets, needs to thrive.