Problems Being Solved, Not Technologies Being Used
There are often separate sections for specific technologies when I go to conferences.
And almost every week, I get asked, “What do you think about IoT?” or “How will artificial intelligence impact agriculture?” to which it’s impossible to answer effectively without considering all other technologies out there in conjunction with outcomes and user experiences being desired.
The reality is that many of these technologies need to be incubated on their own. However, where they create economic value for farmers and the value chain is in the practical application of them increasing on-farm production, decreasing costs, mitigating labor needs or decreasing cognitive load as a few examples.
In order to accomplish this, they need to be used in unison with other technologies and processes.
Innovation happens through the connection of disparate technologies into something useful.
Innovating itself is defined as making changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.
It is difficult to make meaningful changes without stacking numerous technologies together.
Think about even just a few components of the iPhone— Apple took cellular technology, layered in a GPS technology, and then they added forms of capacitance for the touchscreen. Then Apple layered on a brand-new type of glass (Gorilla Glass) that was extra strong. Great products and tools come from integrating various technologies together.
Moving towards agriculture— take the below technologies in agriculture as stand-alone, disparate capabilities:
All interesting, all unique, but only so valuable by themselves.
Technology does not get used in a silo. It gets used as part of a product or system.
The more interesting way to think about technology is “What problems can we solve through these disparate components to create a unique product and value proposition?” and then “Can that company accrue a disproportionate level of the value created to themselves?”
If we begin asking that question, we get companies combining technologies in a cohesive way to create tools, products and systems that are more valuable than the sum of their parts.
As a basic example, we could reconfigure the above technologies in an integrated, synergistic fashion and see that companies like John Deere and Solinftec are doing that today: