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


Leave a Reply

Matt Hopkins Stories

Ag retailer at computer
Matt Hopkins5 Lessons Learned From Launching An Agricultural Data Business
October 7, 2015
Like many other industries, agriculture has witnessed big data rocket up the corporate agenda. And as an ag media company, Read More
Ribbon cutting at 2015 National Farm Machinery Show
Matt Hopkins5 Key Takeaways From The 2015 National Farm Machinery Show
February 14, 2015
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the largest indoor farm show in the country didn't disappoint with the latest in technology and trends on full display. Read More
12 Things You Might Not Know About The CropLife 100
Matt Hopkins12 Things You Might Not Know About The CropLife 100
February 11, 2015
These facts and figures about the top 100 largest ag retailers provide insight into our most popular list. Read More
Matt Hopkins5 Bold Predictions For Ag Retail In 2015
January 21, 2015
This past year was filled with ups and downs for the nation’s top ag retailers, but what will 2015 have in store? Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100CHS, MKC Consider Second Grain Terminal In Milan, KS
November 30, 2015
CHS Inc., an energy, grains and food company and the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative, and MKC, a full-service farm cooperative Read More
CropLife 100United Cooperative Acquires Four ADM Wisconsin Facilities
November 12, 2015
United Cooperative, based out of Beaver Dam, WI, recently acquired four grain and agronomy locations from Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Car Makes NASCAR Xfinity Series
October 29, 2015
BRANDT will join JR Motorsports with driver, Justin Allgaier, for the 2016 NASCAR Xfinity (NXS) Series season. Allgaier will pilot Read More
CHS Building exterior
CropLife 100CHS Leaders Help Shape Succession Report
October 22, 2015
Succession planning was listed as a main concern of cooperative leaders at this summer’s 15 regional CHS owner town hall Read More
Fall Harvest
CropLife 100Pinnacle Purchases Eight Regional Seed Companies
October 12, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings has announced the purchase of eight regional seed companies to advance its seed business. Pinnacle has acquired: Read More
MRM Agricultural Service
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires CropLife 100 Ag Retailer
October 8, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC has successfully acquired the Missouri-based agronomy business of MRM Agricultural Service, LLC and its affiliates (MRM). Operating Read More
Latest News
CropLife 100CHS, MKC Consider Second Grain Terminal In Milan, KS
November 30, 2015
CHS Inc., an energy, grains and food company and the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative, and MKC, a full-service farm cooperative Read More
Dow AgroSciences Logo wall
HerbicidesGowan Co. To Acquire DNA Herbicides From Dow AgroScienc…
November 30, 2015
Gowan Co. has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the entire global dinitroaniline (DNA) herbicide portfolio from Dow AgroSciences Read More
Palmer pigweed in soybean stubble
Herbicides‘Back to the Future’ Weed Control: Herbicide Outlook 20…
November 30, 2015
What’s new for herbicides in 2016? Well, not much, but the learning process is sure to continue for fine-tuning resistance Read More
Tim Hassinger Dow AgroSciences President and CEO
HerbicidesDow Expects Enlist Duo To Be Available For The 2016 U.S…
November 30, 2015
Relative to EPA’s recently filed motion to vacate the registration of Enlist Duo herbicide, The Dow Chemical Co. is confident Read More
HerbicidesBREAKING: EPA Pulls Registration On Dow’s Enlist …
November 25, 2015
EPA on Wednesday withdrew approval of a controversial new weed killer to be used on genetically modified corn and soybeans, Read More
FertilizerYara Tampa Ammonia Terminal Garners ResponsibleAg Honor…
November 25, 2015
Yara has received its first ResponsibleAg Certification for its Tampa, FL, Ammonia terminal location. This achievement demonstrates Yara’s commitment to Read More
ManagementReviewing The Top Ag Stories For 2015
November 24, 2015
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Paul Schrimpf discuss the most noteworthy events from this past year in agriculture. Read More
EmployeesAgriculture Jobs May Be Plentiful, But New Grads Are Sc…
November 24, 2015
Close to 60,000 jobs are set to open up in agriculture each year for the next five years, but there's not enough grads to fill them. Read More
Radish cover crop
StewardshipCover Crops Guide Helps Growers Improve Water Quality
November 23, 2015
A publication that teaches growers the advantages of using cover crops to improve soil health and crop yields has won Read More
Crop InputsThe Andersons’ Products Receive California Organi…
November 23, 2015
The Plant Nutrient Group of The Andersons, Inc. announced today that its Humic DG and Black Gypsum DG products are Read More
Eric SfiligojNew European Study Seems To Support Glyphosate Safety
November 23, 2015
Looking at any international news over the past few years, it might seem as if the European Union (EU) is Read More
Toggle Biostimulant corn roots
Crop InputsTwo New Biostimulants Added To United Suppliers’ …
November 20, 2015
Winfield US announces the launch of two new products in the United Suppliers portfolio for the 2016 crop season, Optify Read More
StewardshipNRDC Report: Cover Crops Contain Vast Benefits
November 19, 2015
As harvest season ends and farmers in the United States ready themselves for winter, one small change could make a Read More
Fall Harvest
Seed/BiotechArysta Launches New Seed Protectant
November 19, 2015
As spring wheat growers begin planning for a strong start to their season, Arysta LifeScience North America announces RANCONA V Read More
Crop InputsInocucor Receives U.S. Patent For Microbials
November 19, 2015
Inocucor Technologies Inc., the Montreal-based agriculture biotech company, was issued patent No. 9,175,258 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to protect Read More
ManagementSyngenta Rumors and ARA 2015 Preview
November 19, 2015
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj looks at the latest rumors involving Syngenta selling its crop protection business and talks about events Read More
EquipmentAGCO Announces Finalists For Operator Of The Year Honor
November 19, 2015
AGCO Corp. has announced the four top operators chosen as finalists for AGCO’s 10th Annual Operator of the Year program, Read More
High Plains Aquifer
StewardshipStudy: High Plains Aquifer Overall Usage In Decline
November 18, 2015
A new Kansas State University study finds that the over-tapping of the High Plains Aquifer’s groundwater beyond the aquifer’s recharge Read More