The world\u2019s oldest winery is a cool, dry cave near the tiny village of Areni, in southeast Armenia. In late 2010, researchers unearthed a host of vintner\u2019s tools there, dating back 6,000 years: fermentation vessels, withered grape skins and drinking cups. It was an astonishing testament to the longevity of winemaking, an art that many equate with sophistication itself. (No one felt this more passionately than Ernest Hemingway, who insisted that \u201cwine is the most civilized thing in the world.\u201d)\nIn our own century, the venerable practice of winemaking is undergoing its own digital renaissance. It is being led by such organizations as E. & J. Gallo Winery, the largest global exporter of California wine. CIO Sanjay Shringarpure, who joined E. & J. Gallo in 2014, is bullish on IT\u2019s ability to sustain business impact.\n\u201cWhat I started to realize after the first year on the job was [that] the scale and scope of IT at the winery is vast,\u201d Shringarpure explains. \u201cIT interacts directly with the business support applications, helping the engine of the company\u2014our sales and marketing teams, as well as our winemakers and our wine and grape supply division\u2014to help us make the wine.\u201d\nAs an agricultural concern, the wine industry is inherently cyclical. Every year in California the \u201ccrush\u201d begins, the brief harvest period when time literally becomes money. The grapes ripen and must be picked, shipped and crushed. The season starts roughly in mid-June and extends until October in some regions. Any number of variables can impact yield and grape quality, from heat to precipitation levels to vine disease.\nThe \u201ccrush\u201d is the basis for E. & J. Gallo\u2019s revenues. Yet until 2014, Shringarpure explains, the crucial data underpinning the company\u2019s harvest was manual, confined to Excel and isolated in disparate systems.\nUsing analytics to harvest a better grape\nIn such a brief harvest period, there are many stakeholders. At E. & J. Gallo, all of them demonstrated interest in unifying the essential grow data. On the corporate level, senior executives were keen to employ automation to think at the margin, repeatedly demonstrating a willingness to invest in long-term initiatives, including business intelligence (BI), mobilization and digital.\n"Grower reps," winery employees who worked directly with external farmers, were interested in the potential supply chain efficiencies that a consolidated digital ecosystem could provide. And ultimately, of course, there were E. & J. Gallo\u2019s external customers, who stood to benefit indirectly through a unified internal data environment\u2014and, by extension, reduced product degradation and higher grape quality.\n E & J Gallo Winery \nSanjay Shringarpure,\u00a0CIO,\u00a0E. & J. Gallo Winery\n\n\u201cWhat we focused on over the last three years was to create a mobile scheduling application that could be used in the fields,\u201d Shringarpure says. \u201cImagine a grower rep going to a vineyard, tasting the grapes, and then right there on an iPad, scheduling that from a supply chain perspective, as well as gathering field collection data on the characteristics of that grape, in a digital ecosystem that you\u2019ve created in an iPad or an iPhone.\u201d\nThe effort, Shringarpure explains, was based on three primary principles. First, the app needed to be a conduit for digital field data collection, a visualization tool that would create efficiencies in the data workflow. Second, it had to be mobile, freeing grower reps up from having to go back to the office after data collection. Finally, it had to complement and enhance current business processes, not distract from them.\nThe application, which is distributed exclusively within E. & J. Gallo\u2019s intranet as a "test and develop" iOS app, is naturally calendar-based. The user interface is based on both seven- and 14-day cycles.\n\u201cThe app allows you to say, \u2018This sub-block in the vineyard gets picked now,\u2019 or \u2018This vineyard gets picked two days from now,\u2019 based on the characteristics and development of the grapes,\u201d Shringarpure explains.\nThe app\u2019s data collection and integration functionality is being merged with internal geographic information systems (GIS). This will prove crucial in a growing environment like California. A recent years-long drought was one of the most severe in the state\u2019s history, stretching across the Central Valley\u2019s 18,000 square miles from Redding to Bakersfield.\n\u201cUsing GIS technology, geographic information systems to overlay satellite imagery, and to gain insights from that while we\u2019re mobile scheduling, that\u2019s where the progression of this initiative is going to be heading over the next two to three years,\u201d Shringarpure reports.\nThe long-lasting impacts of digital transformation\nShringarpure says that as a leader, he focuses on listening as well as continuous learning. These disciplines served him and his team well as they worked together on this ongoing project.\n\u201cFrom a motivation angle, it\u2019s huge for our team to see that they are not just providing technology and hoping it\u2019ll be used,\u201d he says. \u201cIt\u2019s adding value to not just E. & J. Gallo, but also the broader community, as their grapes get picked on time, and there is less wastage. There are very few scheduling issues, and they are minimized. All of this is real.\u201d\nAdditionally, as someone who joined the company from another industry, he found the collaboration required to launch the app to be especially edifying.\n\u201cI came from financial services, and as I delved into learning about Gallo and what we do, what was eye-opening to me was the amount of technology that is being used in the Ag sector, specifically in the wine industry,\u201d Shringarpure says. \u201cThere is a thirst; there is a demand for automation and digital data collection.\u201d\nHis team stretched themselves, taking the time to study the picking process while analyzing the workflow from vineyard to crush pit. They had in-depth conversations on business process, reframing technology\u2019s priorities to reflect the needs of the "grower reps" they served.\n\u201cIt helped elevate the conversation away from \u2018IT is costing too much\u2019 or \u2018the IT investment that Gallo [makes] doesn\u2019t reflect the value,\u2019\u201d Shringarpure says. \u201cThis was a concrete way of showing the value on a continuous improvement basis rather than just being focused on, \u2018Hey, are my laptops working? Are my reports coming out on time? Is the phone system working?\u2019\u201d\nThis drive towards real-time, actionable data has sustained itself in different ways throughout the IT organization. IT, Shringarpure says, has become the "connective tissue" between different areas of E. & J. Gallo Winery, a multinational with upwards of 90 brands under its banner. IT\u2019s agility in rolling out a DocLink instance, for example, allowed sales representatives to forgo the massive binders, full of printed daily sales reports, that were literally dragging them down.\nE. & J. Gallo's IT has driven and sustained a transformative vision of how data is collected and consumed. And it all started with an app.\n\u201cThe grower reps, the folks who are using these tools, have said that this [app] has been a game changer for them in terms of productivity, in terms of being able to deliver value to the business,\u201d Shringarpure says.