InfoAg 2017: A ‘Glass Half-Full Mentality’
I first met Jeremy Wilson of CropIMS in Illinois back in the early 2000s. I was desperately searching for some “good news” stories about the precision ag industry at one of its lowest points in history, and Jeremy was launching a technology training center with some commercial partners.
While that venture did not turn out as hoped, the meeting started a long and interesting relationship that has ebbed and flowed with the fortunes of the precision ag industry over more than a decade.
We cross paths pretty frequently, and last month’s InfoAg Conference tends to be one of the key points of intersection. This year was no exception.
In addition to comparing notes about the latest technologies and trends, we’ll also get into the “mood” of the meeting, a thing you tend to do when you’ve been to almost all of them.
Last year’s InfoAg was almost out of control with buzz and activity, with an invasion of new products, venture capital, and outsiders with big ideas trying to catch a piece of the action. The vibe this year was more serious and subdued. I had the sense that a LOT was going on, but more so in private corners and meeting rooms. I ground-tested this perspective with a lot of folks on the show floor, including Jeremy, and virtually everyone agreed.
While it’s still a very competitive segment of agriculture, cooperation and collaboration are finding a bigger place at the table. I remember back in 2004 when we were doing the initial exploratory meetings that would lead to the creation of the PrecisionAg Institute. We brought together representatives from the leading ag technology companies of the time, and the tension was palpable. Today, our Institute members gather twice a year weigh in on industry trends and share collective research done on their behalf, and have meaningful conversations about working together.
InfoAg was a lot more like that, which is a great sign. And that brings me back to Jeremy, who found himself reflecting on his own attitude about the conference on his drive into St. Louis, MO.
“As service providers, we need to be attending the show to find new ways to bring value to our customers,” he said. “Too many times we get to the shows, and see something that appears to be a threat to our business so we spend the rest of the conference trying to find a way to compete against this technology.
“We all will agree that the production agriculture landscape today is much different than what it was even four years ago, and as I look at the changes that have been made, the new opportunities to bring value to our customer are more exciting now than ever.”
Jeremy called it going into the conference with a “glass half-full mentality.” A conference like this often offers “glass half-full” people the ability to see opportunities to fill their glasses, and leave them overrun with excitement for what our industry has to offer.
This is exactly what the precision ag industry needs today — a group of people and companies that are confident in what they are bringing to the industry and alive to opportunities to connect and work together. I completely agree with Jeremy’s perspective, and hope this prevailing attitude leads to better things for service providers and, ultimately, our grower-customers.