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

Matt Hopkins15 Best New Agriculture Apps Worth Downloading In 2014
December 16, 2013
These latest agriculture apps are sure to help ag professionals do their jobs more efficiently in 2014 and beyond. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communities
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Found In Montana
October 3, 2014
USDA reports that one year after discovery of Monsanto's unapproved wheat in a single Oregon field disrupted U.S. wheat export sales, the GMO wheat has again been found in Montana. Read More
Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
Many new products were introduced to the ag retail marketplace this year. From this group, CropLife IRON and its consulting partners have selected five finalists for the Product of the Year award. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More

Latest News

Seed/BiotechSyngenta Ranked A Top 10 Biotech Employer For Third tim…
October 20, 2014
Syngenta ranked in the top 10 among the world’s top biotech employers, according to an annual survey conducted by Science magazine. Read More
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Break Ground For New Facility At Kennebec
October 20, 2014
Wheat Growers has broke ground for a state-of-the-art shuttle loader grain handling, fertilizer and agronomy facility in Kennebec, SD. Read More
FertilizerVerdesian Life Sciences Signs Agreement With Los Alamos…
October 20, 2014
Verdesian Life Sciences has signed a licensing agreement with Los Alamos National Laboratory to develop and market LANL’s latest nitrogen enhancement technology for plants. Read More
MicronutrientsStoller Group Announces Groundbreaking At New Office Bu…
October 20, 2014
Jerry Stoller, founder and president of Stoller Group, announced the groundbreaking at the site of the company’s future headquarters in Read More
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Opens New Production Facility In Nevada
October 20, 2014
BioSafe Systems has completed construction of a state-of-art production facility in Sparks, NV, for its line of activated peroxygen products. Read More
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScien…
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
Seed/BiotechEPA Approves Dow’s Enlist Duo Herbicide
October 15, 2014
The Enlist Weed Control System, breakthrough technology to fight resistant and tough weeds, has received the long-awaited green light from federal regulatory authorities. Read More
MicronutrientsGypsum On Farms Could Help Keep Water Clean, Not Green
October 14, 2014
Gypsum, which has roots in the past as a farm soil treatment, also may have a bright future, and not just as a booster of crops but also as a protector of water. Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Crop InputsVerdesian Grows Sales Staff
October 14, 2014
The new account managers will drive sales growth and support relationships with key customers in the plant nutrition and seed treatment and inoculants product categories. Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
October 14, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Purchases Six Grain Elevators, Four Agron…
October 14, 2014
The Andersons has acquired Auburn Bean and Grain of Auburn, MI, which will increase the storage capacity of its Grain Group by about 13%. Read More
StewardshipThree Ohio Ag Retailers Honored With 4R Certification
October 13, 2014
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced its first three agriculture nutrient service providers to achieve certified status. Read More
Eric SfiligojEntering Agriculture’s New Phase
October 13, 2014
The market’s giddy ride the past few years might be coming to an end in 2015, warns one industry insider. Read More
Eric SfiligojWar And Green Peace
October 11, 2014
A one-time member of Green Peace recently explained why he left the organization after 15 years. Read More
StewardshipCover Crops Add To Farm Sustainability
October 10, 2014
Farmers nationwide find cover crops to be a tool that helps groundwater, prevents erosion, builds soil quality and complements existing best management practices. Read More
EquipmentMeeting Changing Liquid Storage Needs
October 10, 2014
Tank and containment choices are expanding with shifts in farming practices and the economy. Read More
StewardshipEDF Launches Initiative To Reduce Fertilizer Pollution …
October 9, 2014
The effort will engage farmers and businesses throughout the supply chain to transform the way fertilizer-dependent grain crops are grown and sourced. Read More
ManagementMACA 2014: The State Of The Agricultural Industry, And …
October 9, 2014
The trade association’s annual gathering featured speakers from across agriculture and beyond. Read More