If you follow AgTech news, not a single day goes by without yet another announcement from a startup or large tech company highlighting their groundbreaking innovative product that targets a key piece of the agricultural supply-chain. All this investment activity and technical innovation has even attracted the eyes of the big tech firms—such as Google (Farmers Business Network) and Amazon (Plenty)—who have set up their own investment vehicles to capitalize on it. All of this technology investment going into agriculture has to be a good thing, right?Stephen Berry, VP Information Technology
The six key components making up this emerging platform for 2021 and beyond include:
The ever-expanding volumes of data being generated from multiple internal and external sources is increasingly challenging most organizations. Figuring out how to analyze, interpret, and use the data to gain market advantage is a key challenge all businesses are facing.
Data democratization means removing all the bottlenecks that restrict access to the data, providing an easy way to organize, understand and access it. The ultimate goal of data democratization is to expedite the decision-making process and identify new opportunities by getting the right data to the people who need it when they need it.
There isn’t a “silver bullet” approach because every business has a unique set of circumstances, but there are a number of common challenges that need to be understood before a holistic strategy can be formulated. The enabling technologies are also immature and evolving fast, making the situation even more difficult for businesses to take the first step.
Business performance and growth is driven by empowered individuals across the organization when they are provided with improved decision-making capabilities based on immediate access to easily understood data.
Opportunities exist within the agri industry for innovative companies with a forward-thinking outlook to make the first leap, disrupt the marketplace, and gain significant market share. Other industries are already ahead of the curve, so the lessons learned from their leading proponents can be used accelerate ahead of the competition.
Not everyone is sold on the idea of data democracy. A number of concerns get raised, including:
Additionally, there are challenges that still need to be addressed, including:
All of that being said, none of these challenges are insurmountable and can easily be addressed with a well thought out strategy.
To be successful, organizations need to formulate a comprehensive strategy that focuses on all four pillars of data democracy:
Failure to address any of the pillars could put the overall strategy at risk and fail to deliver the full benefits data democracy can deliver.
It’s too soon to realize the full benefits and impact data democracy will bring. Businesses need to develop and execute their strategy and evolve internal processes alongside the evolving tools to fully exploit them. If you don’t, the competition almost certainly will and you will be left scrambling to catch up and survive.
There are a number of evolving technologies that support data democracy, such as:
There is no “one size fits all” approach to data democratization as each business has unique requirements based on multiple factors. ExtendAg can play an integral role in that strategy. By providing visibility to the entire raw product supply chain from production planning, thru crop husbandry, to harvest estimations, receiving/grading and ultimately final settlement payment, critical functionality is provided to your ag operations group. Incorporating ExtendAg into your data democratization strategy leverages that operational functionality to support your strategy by easily providing access to data previously hidden in silos and disparate systems, thereby enabling our processing clients to gain valuable insights.
Author: Stephen Berry, VP Information Technology
Postmodern ERP is the latest iteration of Gartner’s thinking on the best strategies to be adopted when implementing enterprise-wide solutions. It’s a response to the inexorable rise of the monolithic single vendor, single solution approach that has resulted in a number of high-profile failures with massive hits to both bottom lines and reputations.
In 2014, Gartner defined Postmodern ERP as “a technology strategy that automates and links administrative and operational business capabilities with appropriate levels of integration that balance the benefits of vendor-delivered integration against business flexibility and agility”.
This latest evolution is a recognition that ERP solutions can be great for core business administrative functions such as HR, finance, payroll, etc. However, across large organizations there is normally a variety of diverse business models that need custom solutions that closely address their unique operational needs. The result will usually be a trade-off between overall operational efficiency versus business flexibility and agility.
Postmodern ERP is not a platform or set of tools. It is a strategic approach that recognizes every business is unique and needs to formulate a strategy based on their specific needs. The overall strategy will be a combination of two different sub-strategies that address both administrative and operation requirements separately.
Successful postmodern ERP is dependent upon the integration capabilities of the various components and a key consideration during the selection process. The integrations are normally the most complex and challenging aspects of any postmodern ERP strategy and can involve coordinating effort across multiple internal teams and external vendors.
However, the main reason monolithic ERP implementations often do not succeed is a failure to address the impact of (and resistance to) changing long established business practices and cultures. By leaving these unchanged and moving the challenges to the software integrations, this is something addressable by IT without any significant impact on the operational business users.
At ExtendAg, we have observed first-hand the challenges faced by our enterprise customers and their attempts to address them. Several have learned the hard way that implementing a company-wide monolithic ERP usually comes down to a fundamental choice between the high cost of tailoring ERP software to address multiple often conflicting requirements, or changing long established business processes and cultures to work the way the software does. Neither is an attractive or straightforward option.
In addition to these difficult tradeoffs, the lengthy release cycle inherent to monolithic ERP systems not only adds significantly to the ongoing “total cost of ownership” (TCO) but hamstrings the ability to move “at the speed of business” to adapt changing market conditions. In the meantime, facing the risk of missing a market opportunity, the business will find ways to address their needs, often leading to adoption of less-than-ideal solutions (think spreadsheets, unapproved apps, secluded data) to bridge the gap.
Other than the large ERP vendors themselves, no one in today’s challenging business climate would recommend implementing a single monolithic ERP solution unless their client is in a stable and established marketplace where the agility to support rapid growth or adapt to changing market conditions is not a requirement.
At ExtendAg, we appreciate these difficult decisions (regarding tradeoffs). Designed from its origins as a subsystem to an ERP, ExtendAg can be a key component to your Postmodern ERP strategy. Focused exclusively on raw product procurement and grower management, ExtendAg delivers the functionality your supply chain operations require without requiring wholesale change to business processes or grower interactions. Our flexible approach of integrating to your specific ERP deployment maximizes the efficiency and value you derive from this strategy. Lower initial cost, lower ongoing TCO, quicker deployment and disconnected release cycles all lend credence to the Postmodern ERP strategy.
Author: Stephen Berry, VP Information Techology