Ag Retail: 5 Tech Predictions That Won’t Happen By 2015

Predicting what is going to happen in any industry is tricky business. A simple misreading of the tea leaves and your bold prediction can look downright foolish. Just ask your local meteorologist how it is when he or she gets the weather forecast wrong. No fun.

Fortunately for CropLife magazine, each year we invite several industry insiders to offer their unique perspectives on the season ahead (see the January outlook issue). These experts weigh in on issues, challenges and predictions for the upcoming year, and are typically right on the money. While I’m certainly not at the prophetic level as these folks, I have been studying digital trends in ag retail for the past five years and have a fairly strong feel for where things are heading. From understanding their social media habits, to analyzing how they use their mobile devices for work, I have regularly surveyed ag retailers on the subject of computer technology.

And despite every indication that this technology is transforming ag retail, I decided to take a contrarian view at the industry’s future. Thus, here are five predictions that WON’T come to fruition by 2015:

  1. Mobile devices will completely replace desktop/laptop PCs. The thought of smartphones and tablets completely eliminating the need for personal computers by 2015 is not so far-fetched. It is certainly trending that way. Consider 68% of retailers are using tablets for work, according to a recent survey, and another 10% plans to purchase one within the next 6 months. But the phasing out of desktop and laptop computers may take some time for retailers. Only 15% said they use their mobile devices more than their PCs, indicating it may be several years — if at all — before the iPad and iPhone completely dominate their computing needs.
  2. Texting will be the most popular communication with grower-customers. I’m sure the next generation of retailers and farmers would embrace this prediction if it came true. I just don’t see it happening. If anything, mobile technology is enhancing the in-person communication between retailer and grower, not replacing it. Tablets, in particular, are providing an excellent “show-and-tell” tool for retailers to take with them on sales calls. While 30% say they are “texting more often” than they were just 5 years ago, most retailers still claim e-mail, phone calls and personal visits are still extremely critical for customer service.
  3. Weather will be surpassed as the “most indispensable” mobile app. When we asked ag retailers in a recent survey to name one mobile app that is most indispensable to them, I was amazed at how many responded with business management applications instead of agriculture-specific ones. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. For every agronomic task a retailer does in a given day, there are likely several business functions that also take place. That’s why programs such as Dropbox and Documents To Go are near the top of ag retailers’ “can’t live without” app list. But most every decision still starts with the weather, and that’s why it will likely remain the most indispensable mobile app in 2015 and beyond.
  4. Digital edition of CropLife magazine will be preferred over print version. This prediction (that won’t happen) is actually more of a prelude of things to come. A digital edition of CropLife is debuting this fall, giving our readers the option to view the magazine on their iPads, as well as the long-standing print version. But will the electronic form of CropLife — or any industry magazine for that matter — become the medium of choice for most retailers? Perhaps down the road it will, but unlikely by 2015. This comment from a survey respondent is reflective of most retailers who still favor the print magazine: “I can’t put an electronic magazine on the table in the waiting room for growers to read. Plus, I am on the computer so much for work, I don’t want to go home and stare at another electronic screen when I could just curl up with a real magazine.”
  5. Social media will be an afterthought. I’m the first to admit I have a hard time separating business from pleasure when it comes to social media. Mobile technology has enabled us to multi-task to such an extent that the once-clear delineations of personal life and work life have all but disappeared. So where do ag retailers stand on social media? While they’ve been slower to embrace it than other Internet technologies such as video or Webinars, 54% said they have used social media for work purposes in a 2013 survey. While there will always be some who think it’s a time waster, enough retailers (45%) are finding professional value (e.g., customer interaction, agronomic advice) in using social networks like Facebook and Twitter that it should remain a viable communication tool for this audience in the foreseeable future.

Sources: 2012 Ag Retailer Internet Use Survey, 2012 Ag Retailer Mobile Usage Survey, 2013 Ag Retailer Tablet Use Survey, 2013 Ag Retailer Social Media Survey

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Matt Hopkins Stories
Matt Hopkins5 Misguided Reasons Why Ag Retailers Are Not Using Social Media
June 2, 2014
These most commonly cited reasons for not embracing social media need to be re-examined. Read More
Matt HopkinsHow iPads Are Transforming Customer Service At Dow AgroSciences
March 12, 2014
Dow AgroSciences' Tiffany Galloway discusses how iPads and mobile apps have completely changed the way the company's sales force interacts with customers. Read More
Matt HopkinsPrecision Agriculture: 6 Mobile Use Trends To Watch
March 3, 2014
The convergence of precision agriculture and mobile technology is highlighted by several key trends. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
CropLife 100Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
March 3, 2015
Two CropLife 100 retailers — South Dakota Wheat Growers (ranked No. 11) and North Central Farmers Elevator (No. 19) — have entered into a Letter of Intent to unify the two companies into a newly named cooperative. Read More
Growmark Group
CropLife 100GROWMARK In 2015: Back, To The Future
March 2, 2015
The nation’s third largest ag retail organization is simultaneously moving forward while remembering its past. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location In Indiana
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
Carl Casale of CHS
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
Latest News
ManagementRetail Week: The Future Of Mycogen Seeds; The 4Rs At Na…
March 27, 2015
Editors Eric Sfilijoj and Matt Hopkins discuss recent trips, including a look at the future of Mycogen Seeds at Dow Read More
Eric SfiligojMonsanto Hears The WHO
March 27, 2015
Another challenge to the safety of glyphosate, and the responses from supporters and opponents, calls to mind a classic Dr. Seuss story. Read More
Industry NewsMonty’s Plant Food Expands Sales Team
March 27, 2015
Monty’s Plant Food Company, a leader in natural soil enhancement and  plant fertility products, has hired Andrew Bullock as a Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Louisiana Plant Poised For 2015 Production
March 26, 2015
As the 2015 planting season gets underway, growers across the country will need crop protection products to combat pests and Read More
Lake Erie Nutrient Stewardship
LegislationOhio Lawmakers Finalize Phosphorus Restrictions
March 25, 2015
State lawmakers on Wednesday finalized new rules designed to curb toxic algal blooms on Lake Erie, calling the regulations a major step forward in addressing the problem. Read More
Spreaders17 Fertilizer Spreaders For 2015
March 25, 2015
Manufacturers shoot for versatility and accuracy in this year's crop of fertilizer spreaders. Read More
Industry NewsMonty’s Hires Mid-South Product Consultant
March 25, 2015
Monty's Plant Food Co. has hired Matt Woodring as a Product Consultant for portions of Central Kentucky and Tennessee.    Read More
StewardshipMapShots Integrates With DriftWatch
March 23, 2015
Growers and agricultural providers using AgStudio FARM and AgStudio PRO can now view vital information about specialty crops and apiaries through a recent integration with the DriftWatch Specialty Crop Site Registry from FieldWatch, Inc. Read More
Crop InputsWorld Health Organization Report Contradicts Scientific…
March 23, 2015
A new report from the World Health Organization has classified glyphosate with a “2A” rating as a probable carcinogen, a Read More
Eric SfiligojSeed Treatment Stays Necessary
March 20, 2015
Grower-customers looking to scale back spending in 2015 won’t consider seed treatment, say experts. Read More
HerbicidesMARCH MADNESS: Industry Rallies Around Glyphosate Safet…
March 20, 2015
A newly published report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies the herbicide glyphosate as a "2A-rated possible carcinogen" and the ag industry responds by circling the wagons. Read More
ManagementRetail Week: Precision survey, a technology acquisition…
March 20, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sflilgoj discuss recent travel, the upcoming precision adoption survey, and an unusual sighting at a Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Crop InputsBioSafe Launching TerraGrow Soil Inoculant
March 20, 2015
TerraGrow is a blend of beneficial bacterial and fungal spores and nutrients carefully designed to promote healthier soil and crops. Read More
Winter Wheat
AdjuvantsMax Systems Debuts New Adjuvant NanoRevolution 2.0
March 18, 2015
Added to a tank mix of glyphosate at the conservative rate of two to four ounces per acre, NanoRevolution 2.0 has proven effective in killing resistant weed species that had already had up to two applications of the leading glyphosate product. Read More
Photo credit: United Soybean Board/the Soybean Checkoff
Seed/BiotechAgnition Launches Microbial Catalyst Seed Treatment
March 18, 2015
Agnition it has launched Commence for Soybeans, a microbial catalyst seed treatment for soybeans that stimulates microbial activity for healthier soil and a superior growth environment. Read More
4R Certified, Nutrient Stewardship Council,
StewardshipTyler Grain & Fertilizer Now 4R Certified
March 18, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced Tyler Grain & Fertilizer Co. in Smithville, OH, has been added to Read More
V.R. "Swede" Roskam
ManagementFormer MACA President V.R. ‘Swede’ Roskam P…
March 17, 2015
Former Mid America CropLife Association President V.R. “Swede” Roskam died unexpectedly in Wheaton, IL, on March 13, 2015 at the age of 85. Read More