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

Trending Articles

CropLife 100Agrium To Cut 500 Jobs, Sell Some Businesses
November 11, 2014
Among the businesses Agrium will try to sell are its micronutrients and European UAN (urea-ammonium nitrate) lines. Read More
HerbicidesMonsanto, Sumitomo Chemical And Valent Extend Crop Protection Collaboration
November 10, 2014
The agreement extends their strategic partnership in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready PLUS Crop Management Solutions platform for soybeans and cotton in the U.S. Read More
FertilizerCorn Rootworm Hybrids And Potassium Uptake
November 4, 2014
To achieve successful yields, grower-customers can’t afford to cut back on their potassium use with corn rootworm hybrids, say experts. Read More
StewardshipResponsibleAg Begins Auditor Training
October 31, 2014
ResponsibleAg auditor training is now underway at the Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture in Owensboro, KY. Read More
InsecticidesNew Research Study Shows The Value Of Neonics
October 29, 2014
The study evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the U.S. and Canada. Read More
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More

Latest News

EquipmentAGCO Announces Operator Of The Year Finalists
November 20, 2014
Four custom applicators have been selected by AGCO Application Equipment as finalists for 2014 Operator of the Year, an honor that recognizes them as being among the top professionals in their industry throughout North America. Read More
MicronutrientsH.J. Baker Expands Tiger-Sul Business
November 20, 2014
H.J. Baker has created and filled two strategic positions in business development and sales within its Crop Performance Division. Read More
soybean field
FertilizerGeneral Mills Honors United Suppliers For Nitrogen Opti…
November 19, 2014
United Suppliers winning proposal detailed SUSTAIN, a consulting network that provides customized products and services for farmers using a needs-based system approach. Read More
EmployeesOhio AgriBusiness Association Awards $25,000 In Scholar…
November 19, 2014
Each year, the Ohio AgriBusiness Association Educational Trust scholarship program awards scholarship dollars to students enrolled in an agriculture-related field attending several state colleges. Read More
ManagementServi-Tech Names New CEO
November 17, 2014
Servi-Tech has named Greg Ruehle its new president and CEO. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Ag Acquires Colorado Aerial Application Outlet
November 17, 2014
Ft. Lupton, CO-based Reck Aviation — a full-service chemical application company providing aerial crop applications of fertilizers and crop protection products — will operate as part of Pinnacle's AgOne Application Services brand. Read More
Eric SfiligojMcDonald’s Message: Biotech Crops Scarier Than Cancer
November 17, 2014
Despite their potential health benefits, one of the world’s largest potato users will pass on a new biotech offering. Read More
MicronutrientsWinField Releases 2014 NutriSolutions Results
November 14, 2014
A number of significant regional and national crop deficiency trends emerged from the 2014 WinField NutriSolutions tissue sampling program. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Opens Chinese Production Lines
November 14, 2014
The occasion was the official launch of the Tiger-Sul sulphur Bentonite production line of two much anticipated fertilizer products in China, T90CR sulphur fertilizer and TZinc micronutrient enhanced sulphur fertilizer. Read More
ManagementOhio Certified Crop Adviser Program Accepting Nominatio…
November 14, 2014
The award recognizes an individual who delivers exceptional customer service for farmer clients in nutrient management, soil and water management, integrated pest management and crop production in Ohio. Read More
HerbicidesSyngenta Announces Acuron Trial Plot Results
November 14, 2014
Acuron was tested at 167 trial locations across 35 states. Trials included 95 Syngenta locations, 54 university locations and 18 distributor locations. Read More
Crop InputsVerdesian Expands Sales Force
November 13, 2014
The new sales representatives will work with growers, retail partners and distributors to oversee technical training and product education. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Raises $100K For Wounded Warrior Project
November 13, 2014
AGCO Corp. partnered with local AGCO dealers across the U.S. and Canada to raise nearly $100,000 in support of wounded service veterans. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Announces Launch Of Enlist Duo Herbici…
November 12, 2014
It will be launched in conjunction with a stewarded introduction of Enlist corn, and seed production of Enlist soybeans in 2015. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Expands Tiger-Sul Business
November 12, 2014
Agricultural firm H.J. Baker has created and filled two strategic positions in business development and sales within its Crop Performance Division. Read More
Blenders13 Fertilizer Blenders For 2015
November 12, 2014
Dealers can find a fertilizer blender to deliver any speed, volume and custom mix they want. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Vice President Receives Honorary FFA Award
November 11, 2014
Jim Loar, vice president of operations of Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness Division, was awarded the Honorary American FFA Degree at the 2014 National FFA Convention and Expo in Louisville, KY. Read More
FertilizerBASF Makes Limus Nitrogen Management Available In U.S.
November 11, 2014
Reducing ammonia losses by more than 90%, Limus nitrogen management has demonstrated increased crop yields on average of 6%, according to 2013 replicated research. Read More