Bringing More Secure, Hybrid Collaboration to the Food Industry
Communication bridges gaps. It connects coworkers to each other, and businesses to their customers. For global companies, it can bring people together who might sit on opposite sides of the world. But with its importance to daily operations, poor collaboration solutions can have a ripple effect throughout an organization.
At , we try to be much more than bluefin tuna, betting on excellence and sustainability. A family business, which in its fifth generation has transformed from simple fishermen to global marketers, with an impact that reaches far beyond Spain. Our company has grown to 250 employees, serving customers in 32 countries with a turnover of more than €70 million.
Commitment, responsibility, transparency, and efficiency are our values. We are committed to transparency in all our processes, sustainability and excellence, being the best bluefin tuna in the world.
Today, we take our impact on our clients more seriously than ever. Our food goes to some of the best restaurants in the world, including those with Michelin stars. These professionals are as committed to freshness as we are, making ongoing collaboration all the more important. We maintain close relationships with our customers—both restaurants and distributors—to show how they can better use our products. This creates meaningful two-way feedback that only deepens our relationships further, strengthening our brand as a result.
But this seamless collaboration was not always so simple.
The Need for Collaboration
I joined Balfegó in 2002, and over my years of service as IT Director, I’ve driven technology throughout our operations. But as I explored the various options for collaboration, I was disappointed in the results.
In the years prior to 2019, we tested dozens of communication solutions—with less than adequate results. We tried many different channels to induce this connectivity, including social networks like WhatsApp. Unfortunately, low adoption and security problems prevented us from moving forward.
Balfegó needed an end-to-end solution to make collaboration better, easier, and more secure. The solution would be used internally to collaborate on projects, message coworkers, and hold virtual meetings. But it would also be used with our customers. With so much at stake, our company needed to up the ante with an approach that would last the test of time.
We needed a reliable tool that had maximum protection from end to end. Finding an all-in-one solution would help keep us secure regardless of the conversation medium—video, messaging, or calling.
My three-member team quickly realized we would need the help of other experts. We immediately called on , a partner we’d used for other projects. We knew their engineer and sales teams were excellent at developing personalized solutions for businesses in unique verticals. We hoped that their experience, coupled with our clear goals and outcomes, would allow us to source the perfect platform for our communications needs.
And in 2019, after looking at solutions with Datacom.Global, we opted for and .
It became abundantly clear that Cisco shared many of our values, both inside and outside the collaboration space. We felt very strongly that Webex had the whole package for our organizational needs, offering solutions such as video conferencing, meetings, message functions, web calling, and so much more. A unified solution would simplify our daily workflow and provide increased security.
Testing Webex with Our Internal Teams
June 2019 marked the beginning of our Webex testing period, with a small group of users with Meetings and Webex Room Kit devices. The implementation process was carried out in a very natural, effective, and friendly way. I can't speak highly enough of Datacom.Global, who contributed both their deep knowledge of the craft and great technical professionalism. This made it easy for us to get up and running within less than three weeks.
The design, installation, adoption, and training of users was perfectly adapted to our needs. It also gave us peace of mind knowing we had Cisco Certified Partners by our side, helping to carry out updates and inform us about new features. Datacom.Global didn’t just make the sale and walk away. Their ongoing support proved invaluable.
Our proof of concept was for internal meetings, and it wasn't long before good feedback started rolling back, with everyone remarking about the ease of use of the platform. As time went by, Balfegó began to increase the number of users with access to the Webex suite.
In 2020, we adopted Webex Messaging for 67 users, along with 22 Meetings host users. It joined the pre-existing Webex Board display and Room Kit equipment that was installed in our meeting rooms. Our teams use Webex internally for communication, but also with our worldwide restaurants and distribution partners. We can instantaneously use chat or video calls to stay connected and better showcase our products. With a premium product like our tuna, it’s important to ensure our customers are getting its fullest potential. These meetings with customers enable open dialogue that deepens our longstanding relationships.
In 2022, we incorporated another Board into our restaurant in Barcelona. Part of Tunateca’s purpose is to live stream masterclasses in a proper kitchen to chefs around the world. Using the Board allows us to showcase our products with both live demonstrations and presentations.
Beyond our internal and customer-facing usage, we also rely heavily on the Boards and Room Kit to manage our council (board) meetings, and invite remote external collaborators to serve on our expert panels. During these meetings, employees will give presentations on the Boards, adding annotations as the meeting progresses. All of this is recorded for future use, or for team members who couldn’t be present at the meeting.
Meetings has allowed us to make these sessions a hybrid format with face-to-face and remote options, with a seamless quality of communication that keeps everyone engaged. Another important feature of Meetings is its noise reduction, which helps for attendees who might be on the go, or in less-than-ideal environments.
Sustainably Connecting Our Workforce
Webex has completely overhauled Balfegó's collaboration. In this past year alone, a total of 800 meetings were held, with an average of 56 minutes per meeting. This marks an increase in use by 374% compared to the previous year.
This transition has also enabled hybrid work. Before 2020, 100% of our workforce was operating in-office. When the pandemic struck, Meetings and Messaging empowered our team to work from wherever they could—without the fear of violating government orders. Today, more than 50% of our workforce operates remotely. As we return to normalcy, some functions will continue to operate in-office. But for those whose job permits, we can give employees the flexibility to work from anywhere.
Today, we can communicate better than ever with our customers. Using any device, we can stay connected and help them understand how to best use our tuna and continue to delight restaurant-goers around the world.
Looking ahead, we know we want to implement Webex into even more elements of our business. We're hoping to integrate Webex Calling to get a cloud-based PBX. While we do most of our communication via Messaging or Meetings, sometimes it’s simplest to pick up the phone and make a call. Calling will allow us to have yet another communication medium in a single platform. Over the next few years, we'll also adopt new functionalities such as Webex Holograms.
Cisco products have allowed us to do more than we ever thought possible. We have saved an enormous amount of internal resources and cut back on travel time, which optimizes our workdays and reduces CO2 emissions. Our sustainability mission goes beyond just work travel, but this is an important way we can have less of an impact on the environment.
Balfegó's alignment with Cisco was based in the same qualitative mindset: generating holistic sustainability for future generations. Our business is grounded in a sustainable product that provides extremely high quality—from beginning to end. Our business partners at Cisco believe in much the same thing.
Together with Cisco and Datacom.Global, we're excited to explore the possibilities of bringing better, stronger, and higher-quality tuna to clients around the world.