Matt Waits, President of the Americas at Proagrica and former CEO of SST Software, talks about the future of connectivity, data and analytics in the agriculture supply chain, and why it will become the norm – not the exception – for global agribusinesses seeking to drive profitability and growth.
You say that connectivity must become the norm in agriculture, not the exception. Why is that?
Today, businesses in the agriculture supply chain are collecting and handling more data than ever. This data offers unprecedented opportunities for business growth at every level.
Currently though, we’re still in a transitional stage towards adopting that mindset. The value of data is not yet being fully realized in the current market. Retailers, seed companies, pesticide manufacturers, equipment companies, farmers… all are businesses providing services that are in demand but fall short of achieving their true value due to data incompatibility and systems that are neither fully integrated or future-proof.
How would connectivity benefit agribusinesses in terms of productivity and revenue?
The ability to communicate instantly, efficiently and autonomously with customers and supply chain partners is vital to achieve customer satisfaction. Having a global network focussed solely on agriculture gives businesses the opportunity to connect once for a seamless electronic link to customers and supply chain partners. In its basic form, connectivity increases productivity by reducing inefficiency.
To give a simple example, businesses relying on the manual input of data often underestimate the extensive resources that go towards maintaining their ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system, without taking into account the loss of productivity caused by human error or oversight. One study estimated up to 30% of invoices contain incorrect information – you can imagine what this can cost a business, not only in lost profit but lost time and customer trust.
That’s just focusing on one business process. Consider the benefits for an ag-retailer of having greater control and visibility over their inventory levels and progress against rebate thresholds, or an agronomist armed with real-time geospatial data to support their recommendations. Every facet of the agriculture supply chain stands to benefit from connected data.
What new trends and changes do you see facing the agriculture industry?
Joining a digital network that effortlessly links your established company systems and data to a wider supply chain network, then extracting actionable insights from the data available will be transformative for agriculture.
For example this could be answering questions such as who are your best/worst suppliers, how do your stores rank on agreed efficiency measures and more importantly, why, or what is your businesses real time market share? On a wider, cross-supply chain level, data analytics can provide demand forecasting or pest outbreak alerts ensuring all those involved in the supply chain have the insights to enable optimum efficiency of action.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is gaining momentum, with smart devices increasingly able to interoperate and share with one another. Within agriculture the ability to connect and share information and data across devices, from weather stations, to soil sensors, to in cab information systems, will only serve to increase the ability of growers and suppliers to boost efficiency and therefore productivity.
According to research agency Gartner, 20.5 billion connected devices are projected to be in use by 2020. What matters is making sure those devices can interact with one another and really, we are only seeing the start of what smart technology can do for agriculture.
How is your approach different from other digital solution providers?
No business is able to deliver data-driven solutions to the agriculture industry like Proagrica can. As part of RELX Group, a world-leading provider of information and analytics, we have the infrastructure and capability. It goes beyond technical ability however; Proagrica has close ties to agriculture, with extensive in-house expertise and major industry players as clients already connected to our network. We know the industry, we know the challenges facing agribusiness, and we know how to help.
Every aspect of a business is poised to reap the rewards from data connectivity, to increase productivity, to grow customer loyalty and drive competitiveness. Proagrica is the independent provider to get you there.
Meet the Proagrica team on their stand at the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit, San Francisco, March 19-20. Visit proagrica.com or follow on Twitter and LinkedIn.
About Proagrica: Responsible for a global agricultural supply chain network of over 27,000 trading connections and suite of workflow solutions that facilitate $750m of trade annually through online portals alone, Proagrica has a mission to connect agri-supply chains and deliver actionable insights, transforming the business landscape. Its powerful solutions that rethink conventional business practice and system architecture are already utilized by agribusinesses across the world. In 2018, SST Software – a leading US independent precision farming solutions company – joined Proagrica, combining their advanced geospatial solutions to provide the ultimate connectivity package for the agriculture supply chain.