Category Archives: Zapopan, Mexico

Envisioning a Smarter City in 3 Steps – Zapopan, Mexico

Posted on behalf of SCC Zapopan team member Patricia Waldron

Earlier this year, IBMers from US, Mexico, France and India — representing GBS, STG, S&D, Research and Corporate Citizenship — came together for three weeks for a Smarter Cities Challenge in Mexico. One team worked together to bring “agro-food” — a system of agriculture designed to shorten the path that food takes to get from farmer to table — to the city and municipality of Zapopan. Specifically, IBM worked with municipal leaders in Zapopan (located in the Mexican state of Jalisco) to bring to life their vision for an agro-food cluster and industrial park to connect local farmers, academies, companies and government to increase the area’s economic health and fuel a better quality of life for its citizens.

Zapopan team Mexico 8x10@300

The project, spearheaded by Zapopan’s visionary mayor, Dr. Hector Robles Peiro, promises to not only improve daily life for his constituents, but also position Zapopan as a role model for other communities at the state, national and global level. Thanks to IBM, Zapopan is becoming a smarter city.

Here’s how we spent our three weeks:

Our first week was devoted to discovery. We met with dozens of stakeholders, from research agencies and academics; to CEOs of Jalisco-based food manufacturers; to small, local farmers and entrepreneurs, and government agencies. We listened carefully to their challenges, pains, hopes and vision for the future.

Our second week was focused on solutioning. We pooled together our hundreds of observations. Then we documented, prioritized, and grouped them by theme. After arriving at three major themes, we reviewed them with our “coach” (the mayor’s advisor, Ian Paul Otero) and refined them based on his feedback. Using our collective knowledge of industry and technology — as well as knowledge from others in our respective networks — we then came up with a vision of the “art of the possible” for the agro-food cluster and its stakeholders.

Our third week was spent preparing, in this case a set of recommendations to present to the mayor and other key stakeholders. These showed a holistic approach to the project’s solution that truly brought together the best of IBM: solutions, research, consulting and infrastructure. Our proposal’s three themes were also its three recommended steps:

  1. Organize a governance model and roles for the stakeholders.
  2. Inform with a digital platform (supported by cloud, mobile, social and analytics) to engage and educate the stakeholders.
  3. Sustain the new agro-food cluster — financially, environmentally and socially.

“Listen for need, envision the future” — and its components — shone through as a core IBM Practice throughout this short but intense project:

  • Unite across IBM, and beyond. We worked together in Zapopan, brought in expertise from our extended networks of SMEs, and shared our experiences via social media, connections, blogs, and tweets.
  • Get it done. We immersed ourselves in the project — and in the local culture too! We gathered what we needed quickly, “divided and conquered,” and then came back together as a team for the final presentation.
  • Work with thoughtful urgency. With only three weeks available for the project, the team worked quickly and efficiently, with an agenda that made the best possible use of our limited time with the municipality and its stakeholders, allowing us to present them with a comprehensive vision and roadmap.

We presented our findings to Mayor Robles and his advisors, Ian Paul Otero and Vanessa Peres Lamas. They commented on the thoughtfulness and depth our or findings, and Mayor Robles had a true “aha moment,” telling us that we’d inspired him to think of taking the expected benefits of the cluster to the state level, for a greater impact on the citizens of the region and ultimately all of Mexico.

The initiative has wide-ranging benefits for the area. Farmers will benefit from improved, more concentrated access to agricultural markets and market data. They’ll also be able to utilize new technology to help them make better decisions on where, when and what to farm. Industries will benefit from the co-location, both physically and technologically, of farmers and food companies. These industries will have greater ability to sell high-value and more cost-effective products to the people of Zapopan and in the state of Jalisco, as well as for export. And citizens will enjoy a better quality of life due to better services, good jobs and greater prosperity for their city and state.

Following the presentation, Mayor Robles presented each of us with a plaque of recognition for our work and a figurine (appropriately made of corn husks – a key agricultural product) as a reminder of Zapopan. I’m certain the experience will not be something any of us will forget.

We presented our recommendations and final report in October, 2014. Work on the industrial site is scheduled to start now, just a month later, in November. This is a big milestone and represents tangible progress for all the stakeholders.

We look forward to following the progress and keeping in touch with the people we met and grew close to during this amazing assignment.

Our team included: Abhijit Majumdar, IBM India; Alan Foster, IBM US; Carlos Saucedo Maciel, IBM Mexico; Claude Basso, IBM France; Diane E Shimmon, IBM US; Manuel Avalos Vega, IBM Mexico; Patricia Waldron, IBM US.

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One …. Two ….. Three ….. Uniting to Get It Done!

Posted on behalf of SCC Zapopan team member Patricia Waldron

The #SCCZapopan Team became fully immersed the project. Our goals was to help the municipality of Zapopan to:

Create an Agro-Food Cluster and Industrial Park that brings together Zapopan’s farmers, academies, companies and government agencies to quickly transform the industry, improve quality of life for citizens, and become a role model for state, nation.

IBMers from US, Mexico, France and India representing GBS, STG, S&D, Research and Corporate Citizenship came together for 3 weeks for a Smarter Cities Challenge in Zapopan, Mexico.   Not only did we team here in Zapopan, we shared our experiences via social media, connections, blogs and tweets.

Our first week was discovery – meeting with all stakeholders – from the Mayor, government ministers and research agencies to farmers, entrepreneurs and manufacturers.


Our second week was solutioning – documenting our observations and recommendations for the municipality. We spent time in our War Room working to determine the best approach.


Our third week was preparing – creating a set of final deliverables to pre presented to the Mayor and key stakeholders. We prepared (and rehearsed!) our presentation among ourselves as well as with Ian Paul Otero, General Director, Center for Economic Development & Tourism for Zapopan – see below.


Our final deliverables include: presentation, executive summary and full document detailing our recommendations and a video.

We strived to understand the many challenges, goals and points of view for the stakeholders who were very generous sharing their time and insight with us. We also experienced as much of the local culture as possible so we could understand the pulse, values and feel of the community.


The Corporate Citizenship team did an amazing job putting together an agenda that allowed us to use our time in the best way possible to deliver value for Zapopan, IBM and the individuals on our team:

Manuel Avalos Vega, IBM Mexico

Claude Basso, IBM France

Diane E Shimmon IBM US

Patricia Waldron, IBM US

Alan Foster, IBM US

Abhijit Majumdar, IBM India

Carlos Saucedo Maciel, IBM Mexico

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Back to School

Posted on behalf of SCC Zapopan team member Patricia Waldron

As part of our Smarter Cities Challenge we’re spending time in the community, Meeting citizens and experiencing the local culture is one of the highlights of the program.

We had the privilege visiting University of Guadalajara, one of 30+ higher education institutions in the state of Jalisco, with a student body of more than 100,000.

PhD Anyone ???

We held a panel discussion and Q&A session, attended by 100+ graduate students, where we discussed innovations for Smarter Cities. We also had small discussion groups with the PhD students where we shared information and discussed how new technologies can help cities improve sustainability and quality of life for citizens.


When does 1+ 1 = 5 ???

IBM and the University of Guadalajara are more than neighbors. There is a Smarter Cities Exploration Center at the University of Guadalajara (UdeG) supported by technical and intellectual guidance of IBM’s global research lab experts. The Center is the first of its kind in Latin America and IBM’s data analytics, supercomputing and cloud computing capabilities will be used by the University’s students to drive the development of new pilots and solutions for vital services such as transportation, healthcare, education, public safety, energy and water challenges faced by Guadalajara and other cities around the world. We toured the Center with Dr Victor Larios (@VMLarios)


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Art & Science in Guadalajara

Posted on behalf of SCC Zapopan team member Patricia Waldron

We spent a day with the IBM Mexico team at the Guadalajara (GDL) campus. Over 5000 IBMers work there and it is an amazing place – the facility, the people and the products.

The facility

The IBM Guadalajara facility was built in 1975 with the objective of creating a plant for people integrating the Mexican Character with the local environment.   The overall exterior design has a certain rhythm offering a variety of “claro oscuro” with a sense of order creating a pleasant atmosphere. Typical of Mexico is the use of plaster finish with strong color on the exterior walls.


The view above shows how the architects also took creative license with the building – doesn’t it look like a punch card??

The people


Eugenio generously spent time with our team giving us insight on IBM’s long history in Mexico, the current industry and business challenges. Over half of the people in GDL work in manufacturing, and it is where all the Power Systems shipped to the Americas and EMEA are produced. Santiago Bribiesca gave us a tour of the factory – it was the first time that many of our #SCCZapopan team had been to this type of IBM facility – more on that below. There are an additional ~1700 people in the shared services group for finance, admin and supply chain.   The balance are GBS AMS teams.

IBM is part of an ‘Industrial Cluster’ in the Guadalajara area that includes other tech companies like HP, Foxcomm and Siemens. This area of Jalisco is known as the Silicon Valley of Mexico. Our Smarter Cities Challenge is to help the municipality of Zapopan replicate this concept for the Agro-Food industry.

The Products

 Year-to-date more than 20,000 Power Systems have been produced and shipped from GDL. The plant is immense! The team configures, tests and packs the systems.


 Two of our #SCCZapopan have special ties to this plant:

Manuel Avalos lives in GDL. We are the first team to have a local IBMer as part of Smarter Cities Challenge for a local municipality. We think it’s great, as Manuel has given us lots of insight and has relationships with some of our stakeholders.

Claude Basso is a DE who worked on the research team to develop the Power Systems chip set. The plant team was excited to meet Claude as he was to see his efforts brought to life!


Speaking of IBMers …… Carlos Saucedo, Corporate Citizenship Director for Mexico, is in some respects the most important member of our extended team. He and his organization have been responsible for the amazing agenda, arrangements and media coverage of #SCCZapopan.   And stay tuned – a film crew is arriving next week to start production of a video on our project.


I think the Smarter Cities Challenge is equally beneficial for IBMer development as it is for the municipalities we are supporting!

Next week we meet more of the GDL local team next week. We’ll spend our time turning our observations and recommendations into final deliverables and rehearsing our presentation to the Mayor of Zapopan.

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Smart Stakeholders for Sustainable Growth

Posted on behalf of SCC Zapopan team member Patricia Waldron

We’ve had the great pleasure of meeting with executives from many of the stakeholders Cluster Alimenticio (Food Cluster) in Zapopan. This initiative is bringing together:

  • Academic institutions
  • Industry players
  • Farmers
  • Government agencies

We’ve been to many institutions with research, labs, product incubation and manufacturing capabilities. Each has a special set of expertise and products that they provide to the industry.

CITSIA (Center for Food Technology Innovation and Development) where they help incubate new products for local companies like Helado Bellagio’s fruit ice creams. These ice creams are not only delicious – we tried them all – but beautiful as they are served in their own shell or husk.


Cámara de la Industria Alimenticia de Jalisco (CIAJ) is the region’s Food Industry Chamber. CIAJ connects a wide range of companies engaged in packaging and food processing. They help farmers, entrepreneurs and consumer goods manufacturers collaborate, innovate and add value to local raw ingredients. For instance – instead of taking raw nopales (cactus) to market, they are processing it for salads, which increases revenue and profits for the industry and provides convenience for consumers. Nopales, along with corn and limes, are Zapopan’s top crops.


CVA Jalisco

Centro de Valor Agregado (CVA) –Value-Added Center – is another stakeholder in the Agro-Food Cluster. The CVA is a modern facility that is certified for the development of agro-food products. It has laboratories and business incubators and an experimental plant. They enable food producers in Jalisco to address market challenges through the development of processes and products with high added value.


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Tasting amazing products produced in Zapopan, Jalisco.


Photo: Claude Basso (IBM France), Alan Foster (IBM USA) and me (IBM Mexico)

Over the first 10 days of the Smarter Cities Challenge engagement with Zapopan municipality the IBM Global team has met many actors of the whole Agro Food Cluster Eco-system, including well established producer and new entrepreneurs and we have had the chance to taste a variety of amazing products produced in the Zapopan area and in the Jalisco Food cluster such:

Oatmeal cookies 0% sugar free from granvita

and Tamales and Tacos from tadevapor

Tuna Ham , among many other set of local products.

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Sowing Wild Oats In Zapopan

Posted on behalf of SCC Zapopan team member Patricia Waldron

We met today with Felipe Gomez Garcia, President and CEO of Grupo Industrial Vida, a very successful consumer products company based in Jalisco.

Grupo Vida is a leader in oat-based products that manufactures a variety of products sold throughout The Americas. They are the leader in oatmeal, granola, puffed wheat cereal throughout Mexico, and were first to market with innovative product: oat-based cookies. Marketed under the Granvita brand, they are perfect for health conscious and gluten-free consumers. Of course we had to sample them, and they were extremely tasty! I especially liked the coconut cookies with icing in their Avenitas line (avena is oats in Spanish).


Felipe was super generous sharing his industry insight (and samples!) with Manuel Avlos and me. Especially since he is also President of Camara de la Industria Alimentico (CIAJ), the local Food Industry Chamber, that brings together companies engaged in packaging and food processing, and encourages innovation.

Some facts he shared about Jalisco’s Agro-Food industry:

  • Ranks #2 in food production in all of Mexico
  • Ranks #1 nationally in production of: confectionery, egg, edible oil, sauces, feed, pork, dairy, raspberry, blueberry, corn, agave tequila, lime, poultry, beverages.
  • Produces 60% of sweets and chocolates
  • Produces 10% of purified water and 24% of drinks in general
  • Employs a workforce of ~120,000 which is >30% of the population

It’s exciting to be participating in the Zapopan Agro-Food Cluster Smarter Cities Challenge – especially working with capable industry exectives and the Zapopan Municipal Team.


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