Ralf Huebenthal

Head of Information Technology – GCR

Nestle (China) Ltd.


【Chief Talk】Can Tech Companies Succeed in the World of Food Industry?
Tech companies desire more than success in the digital world. They are evading other industries and starting new competitions. The food industry is the new target. You must have noticed these expected competitors in every aspect of the food industry chain: agriculture, product development, and retail. AI Lab from Tencent collaborated with agricultural experts to build Autonomous Greenhouse, a blueprint for agriculture; JD.COM introduced its own brand, "Made by JD," by leveraging its channels and consumer data; Buhler Group developed NutriRice to help people fight malnutrition; when Whole Foods was acquired by Amazon, the e-commerce tech giant, food retailers need to review the game with giants and reflect on how to upgrade their technical strategy, brand communication, and distribution model. Tech companies have joined the game. Food giants, follow suit or not?


Based in Beijing, Mr. Ralf Huebenthal is holding the position of CIO (Head of Information Technology) for the Greater China Region at Nestlé. He is a strong believer that today's CIO role goes beyond optimizing back office operations and plays a major role in business growth. Providing consumer and value chain insight combined with enabling new business models based on analytics is a key objective of being a CIO.
Currently he is overseeing and transforming the IT organisation in China to enable the business vision of an end-to-end digitalised data driven organisation. This entails completing a previously failed SAP implementation as the system of reference for optimised back office operations. Building a digital enablement platform to allow the capturing of all data opportunities; from eCommerce platforms, retailers or IoT devices serving consumers. This includes the creation of a try-fast-fail-fast environment to test and establish new consumer facing business models.
He constantly accepted new challenges to drive change, grow business insights and experienced personal growth. An international career, in various global and local IT roles, has included working in Germany, Switzerland, Ghana, Israel, Australia and now China. Working across these diverse environments he had the opportunity to gain business insights across all areas, from the direct to consumer model (Nespresso) to the traditional distributor model. Furthermore, he is passionate about and am successful in creating independent and high performing teams as a cornerstone for successful change.