As precision agriculture professionals we are frequently approached by companies that wish to partner with our organization in order to deliver their services through our channels. To say the least, it has been challenging to ‘navigate the weeds’ and determine which partnerships will deliver the most value to our customers. With the various outfits that are available it has been very difficult to determine which technologies, services, and platforms are the most viable. Through the process of evaluating companies, we have observed some trends that seem to lead to greater acceptance within the marketplace:
1. Minimal Manual Input
Tools which deliver high levels of automation through file imports, delivery of information, and other functions have a much higher degree of success. No one wants to spend a significant amount of time to setup a tool.
2. Personalized Service
A new tool needs to be customizable, within reason. Every customer is different, and has different needs and wants. Some information may be more pertinent to one user versus another. The most successful tools/partnerships have been those technologies which are able to ‘pivot’. The companies that provide flexibility and willingness to make changes have the greatest success.
3. Trusted Support/Service
Tools that come with a trusted name from the industry — or a partnership with a trusted name — carry more weight. There are only a few customers who at this point will go out on a limb to try something new from an unknown company.
4. Local vs. Remote Service
There is still a preference for the ability to put a face to the name. Tools that do not have a local face to go along with the name do not have the same influence as those that do. The technology is ultimately what will make or break a tool, however the human side is still key. The important thing is that the technology should enable improved customer care, not be the customer care.
5. Aggregation/Minimal Duplication
An ability to aggregate customer information from various sources into one platform is still somewhat of a holy grail. However, those companies that are able to integrate information from multiple sources into one platform have a unique advantage. A constant frustration is when tools require duplication of information. The tools with the greatest success offer ways to share information between platforms. Customers need to see additional value beyond the basics in order to sustain interest. The need for collaborative tools enabling users to access data that can be manipulated and shared with others is a must.
6. Branding Matters
Companies that are able to create hype around their brands seem to carry more influence than others. The power of social media is very evident in the precision ag marketplace as customers have seen their friends using and recommending various products online.