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Case Study: Syngenta

Syngenta Transforms Digital Services for Farmers

Case Study: Syngenta

About Syngenta

Syngenta is one of the world’s leading agricultural and biotechnology businesses, enabling millions of farmers across the globe to make better use of available resources through world-class science and innovative crop solutions. Based in Switzerland, but with a workforce of 28,000 people in 90 countries, Syngenta is committed to rescuing land from degradation, enhancing biodiversity and revitalizing rural communities.

The Challenge — Getting the Right Information at the Right Time

Farmers who use Syngenta products receive timely updates on the distribution of pests, which helps with applying pesticides and other crop protection when needed. Traditionally, farmers received this information through a subscription service, first via fax or via text message, then through a web portal and eventually email.

However, many problems existed with the communications. From the user’s (farmer’s) perspective, sites in some regions loaded extremely slowly. The experience on smartphones and tablets was also poor, considering the growing number of farmers accessing information on a mobile device while working in the field. Therefore, farmers found getting vital information in a timely manner difficult.

From a content management perspective, Syngenta used an outdated Microsoft SharePoint CMS, which was complex, time consuming and expensive to manage. The platform lacked responsive web design and could not integrate seamlessly with other systems, which hiked up the cost for Syngenta. And because of the sheer inflexibility of the existing technology, Syngenta struggled to grow the company by offering new services frequently enough.

The Solution — Acquia Cloud and Site Factory

Syngenta took the opportunity to overhaul its back-end system as soon as the support contract for its existing CMS expired. In 2015, the IT department initiated a tender process, in which several leading CMS providers offered bids. The process particularly focused on those providers that were ranked as leading in the Gartner Magic Quadrant.

During the process, Syngenta assessed the flexibility, open interfaces and cost efficiency of each option, and the potential to support the company’s future digital marketing strategy, including the creation of online communities.

Syngenta awarded the bid to Acquia to deliver Acquia Cloud — a global, uniform and centralized CMS based on open-source Drupal. Acquia also delivered Acquia Cloud Site Factory, which enables Syngenta to control website provision centrally and manage multiple sites from one location — all optimized for mobile. The solution also included content delivery network (CDN) caching to improve the website loading speed for all regions.

The software offers a comprehensive array of features that provide a complete overview and precise operational control of several websites. All Syngenta digital marketers, working within a defined corporate governance framework, can now implement their own specific requirements and content as part of the digital experience.

The Implementation — On Time, On Budget and In Complete Control

For the implementation, Acquia then acted as a general contractor with FFW, a long-serving Acquia implementation partner and one of the world’s leading digital agencies specializing in Drupal.

The rollout began in late 2015, with Australia the first country to go live in March 2016. Syngenta continued to roll out websites in 25 more countries by the summer of 2016, and by September 2016, the solution was productive in more than 70 countries.

Throughout the rollout, Syngenta was in complete control of the progress of the project. The use of agile software development and project processes enabled Syngenta to organize the development of the work into sprints, each of which produced results that Syngenta could implement immediately. Acquia incorporated feedback from users into subsequent sprints, which enabled Syngenta to continually improve the user experience of the solution.

The Benefits — A Better Working Life for Farmers

The Acquia solution has transformed the way Syngenta communicates with farmers, with significant benefits across the whole business:

  • Improved information quality and speed: The Acquia solution now supports farmers with a comprehensive spectrum of information and services — from seeding to harvest — with web pages loading much more quickly than before thanks, in part, to content delivery network (CDN) caching. Registered users now receive detailed information about pest outbreaks in their region, together with weather forecasts for the coming days, enabling them to plan effectively for crop protection, right down to the hour.
  • More flexibility for farmers: Information is available at the push of a button on smartphones and tablets in an easy-to-digest format — so farmers have access to the latest information, no matter where they are.
  • Simpler web management: The central management tool enables Syngenta to deploy new websites much more quickly and easily than before. Syngenta can now provide and manage a virtually unlimited number of websites based on uniform coding.
  • Lower costs: The new tool reduces the operating costs of individual websites in each region without limiting design freedom.
  • Improved scalability: The new platform removes the technical barrier to delivering new services, thanks to its functionality and flexibility, meaning that Syngenta can continue to grow the company on its own terms.
  • High levels of security and compliance: The Acquia platform gives the marketing teams in each region the freedom to implement their own requirements and publish content, while maintaining a high level of compliance and governance according to internal requirements. And because Acquia Cloud Site Factory is managed by Acquia, Syngenta automatically benefits from the latest security updates and Drupal modules without hassle.
Right from the start, we were impressed with Acquia. The team built the prototype quickly and successfully before rolling it out to our 70-plus sites, which was no mean feat. I was pleased that Acquia hit every deadline and delivered what we needed without any serious issues during the process. Since the rollout, we’ve added new features to our services and have started to integrate our other systems — all aimed at improving our overall digital fitness and the digital experience for our customers.
Catherine Vaysse,
Internet lead, Syngenta

Company Information

Basel, Switzerland
28,000 employees
90 countries
Acquia client since 2015
Success enabled with
  • Acquia Cloud
  • Acquia Cloud Site Factory