By: Billy Tiller CEO/Founder GISC
In the Fall of 1983 I started my sophomore year at Texas Tech University, majoring in accounting. I saw my first computer and it was a Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) Rainbow 100. I did not know anything about DEC except that it became evident that all the personal computers (PC) were clones of the IBM PC. I knew that if you wanted the best it must be the IBM PC because everyone was a clone of this technology. I also knew who IBM was and I had no clue about DEC. The reason I recognized IBM was because they were a legendary company. International Business Machines was long unspoken, and everyone just called them IBM and it seemed they had been successful forever.
Grower Interest and the Beginning
Well here we are in 2018 and they are still going strong and have been reinventing themselves for over 100 years. They are one of the small select group of companies that number only 54 which have been included on the Fortune 500 listing since its inception in 1955. Their very name, IBM, makes one think of IT (information technology) for business. In 2013 I did an informal survey of farmers that were interested in the concept of a data cooperative and asked, “What large technology company could be a great partner for GiSC?” I used 4 companies, which sold no products or services to growers directly for the choices, and IBM won hands down. I had not heard of any interest of IBM in agriculture and I assumed they were not interested. I found this to be far from the facts as GiSC began to converse with IBM in 2017. It was exciting to hear a company who had 400,000 employees around the world interested in being involved in finding a way to interact with growers in building business insights from data collected by GiSC members.
I knew we had been fortunate to have partnered with Main Street Data and their best of class yield data and analytics, but I was also intrigued as I thought about what it would mean to bring IBM to the partnership. I realized as we spoke to them they had world class weather due to their purchase of The Weather Company’s product and technology businesses in 2015. Weather is an IBM business, and its weather business is the best weather, real-time and forecasting, platform in the world. Farming is weather, anticipating it and adjusting to its effects, and, even though I have no magic wand to change the weather, I know, from 30 plus years of managing farms, that I could use and would use great weather tools to plan and react for my business benefit. IBM is now bringing to growers weather-driven insights that I could only have dreamed of a day earlier.
We at GiSC also know IBM has world-leading competency in technology platforms beyond weather, including Internet of Things (IoT) and data science with Watson. We also realize they are a world leader in future technologies, such as quantum computing and blockchain. This is IBM, and nothing is beyond their reach, and for the first time in history, we, as growers and members of GiSC, have the opportunity to strike a partnership with IBM for business insights that will benefit agricultural producers around the world.
Join GISC and Experience the Innovation
GiSC is on the launch pad, ready to bring to its members’ cutting-edge analytics via partnerships with Main Street Data and IBM. Join today and gain the value of independent insights and benchmarking at your fingertips. Membership is $500 per year, and this represents your part to capitalize this farmer data-cooperative to be the collaboration platform that will assist us in planning our farming businesses as we head into the future. The time is now. We have a real chance for a future world where growers may realistically obtain and deploy world-class, grower-centric data tools, a world that seemed a dream only a short while ago. Be part of the change. Let’s bring the focus of ag technology development back to where it belongs: on growers.