By: Billy Tiller Founder/CEO GISC
I am borrowing this often-said phrase from others because it is true: “Ag is a small room, but I would not want to paint it.” I proceed with caution here, even though a part of me sometimes would like to hit “reset” and start over with digital ag technology. GiSC has tried to work closely with other groups in the industry which have growers as their customers. We realize that our members would benefit from additional data, and that leads to a higher accuracy of insights they could receive from any vendor.
The Struggle with Digital Ag
I have frankly been puzzled by the fact that many of these “trusted partners” to growers attempt to silo the grower’s data collected on their specific platforms. Many of these providers are narrow-minded to the idea of combining their customer’s data captured with other data related to the grower’s operation that was not captured within the specific platform. They are even less interested in integrating that data in anonymized and aggregated data sets of multiple growers. In fact, many such services require the data captured/created from the service be stored within the service provider’s system and only be utilized with the particular service provider’s tools. The Digital Ag Tech world is littered with those that live in fear of what a farmer might be able to do with better data. Therefore, most try to create a standalone data ecosystem. In this system, the farmer’s data is stored for post-season analysis and creating next year’s recommendations. This creates the “data silos” where data is stored in various “clouds”, uploaded from technology applications purchased by farmers or provided to them by various vendors mentioned earlier. That data is never benchmarked against anything, and therefore, the potentially most significant value of such data derived from groups of farmers working together never materializes. In my opinion, if current farm groups don’t find a way to move beyond this fear, then Silicon Valley will eventually have a windfall in the ag world, and the disruptions they fear will become reality.
How to Adapt in Digital Ag
I challenge the ag community to move beyond fear for the sake of the farmer. Build your business on the back of great products and services around the core competencies of your business. You don’t have to invent everything a grower needs to be successful in your space and I think that has become evident as growers have witnessed all the underutilized technology products that have been created in the last 5 years. The speed of technology in ag is increasing and we must form alliances for the benefit of the farmer for us all to be successful in the age of digital ag.