We here it far and wide in precision agriculture circles: the key to the next wave of technology adoption is in making all the disparate software, hardware, and systems “play nice,” allowing farmers to actually focus on farming and making the most of the data they collect.
Leveling the technological playing field by offering a “color blind” cloud-based solution and inviting manufacturers to participate has put AgIntegrated in the spotlight over the last couple of years. And with the very recent addition of ag technology veteran Kelby Kleinsasser, the company is looking toward further expansion and new horizons.
“We are thrilled to have Kelby join AgIntegrated’s executive team, with responsibilities that include directing and expanding our consulting division,” says Duane Reese, president and co-founder. “Kelby brings a highly relevant set of experiences in the software as a service (SaaS) business and cloud based, data-driven systems across multiple industries including agriculture. The addition of Kelby to our team demonstrates AgIntegrated’s commitment to drive precision ag adoption through open, integrated systems.”
We got an exclusive opportunity to catch Kleinsasser shortly after accepting the position to get his take on why he returned to agriculture for this particular opportunity, and where he sees AgIntegrated heading in the months and years ahead.
Who do you see as your key customers?
Our target is any party in agriculture that develops, institutes, oversees, or otherwise makes decisions on connected ag information technology. Although there are varying terms used to define information management, our definition includes any software that is leveraged in the planning, controlling/execution and analysis of the crop lifecycle.
More specifically, this includes agronomic systems, decision support tools, telemetry platforms, asset (fleet) management, dispatch, ERP (general ledger, etc), and in-field computing (field computers, mobile apps, etc). Our customers and prospects are therefore made up of ag retailers, ASP’s, independent software vendors, and precision technology and specialty hardware manufacturers.
Because more and more agribusinesses are working to streamline and productize their information management offering, we feel strongly that our business can grow by helping them deliver on promises with what is likely to be a messy technology environment at best. And even if an agribusiness has not yet productized information management, they have invariably found themselves in the midst of a sophisticated web of parties who in many ways are competing with one another to earn status as an information manager in the growers’ minds.
We view all of those companies as targets for our services because we know that success is not guaranteed when the technology deck has been stacked against them. In many ways we see ourselves as the proverbial “last mile” of fiber that a cable company or telco lays down to connect their subscriber to a broader infrastructure.
Where is the precision ag industry headed in 2013?
We believe that the industry will move forward quickly if companies capable of investing in information management technology R&D can stay focused on infrastructure and specialized solutions. As long as they are, we won’t see the same money being thrown at multiple supposed one-size-fits-all solutions – the virtual stalemate and a perpetuation of the zero sum game we’ve seen in the past.
We’re pretty stoked that companies such as Raven with the Slingshot API and John Deere with FarmSight are creating infrastructure that will allow integrated solutions to actually work. But, at the same time, we’re also seeing and hearing that most agribusinesses don’t have a clear vision for how they will leverage it and in many cases that they don’t understand it. We will have been successful in 2013 if our targets perceive us as the company who can make it all work.
If the signals we’re reading hold true, we’d expect to see demand for our services and products growing even stronger throughout the next three to five years. Regarding our products such as Onsite, the strategy is pretty simple. We will invest in high quality, open products that enhance our ability to be successful integrators.
Above all, our prospects and especially our customers will see AgIntegrated becoming hyper focused with an accelerating tempo and stronger emphasis on proving that the open movement will deliver the elusive results that ag information systems have been promising.
You stepped away from ag for a little while. What were you working on?
I’ve spent the past year working with a healthcare technology company helping them to achieve scalability and to adjust products that adapt to the rapidly changing regulatory landscape. More broadly speaking, my focus has been — and remains – on R&D and product management of pure SaaS business delivered via Cloud technologies that drives scalability, performance, mobility, and rapid innovation through software that’s easy to enhance.
What excited you about coming back to ag?
One word. Movement. The Collaboration Movement has considerable momentum and it’s creating enormous opportunities for innovation. The landscape is very different from the ag of even three years ago. There are countless opportunities to make a difference leveraging my strengths and interests here so I feel a sense of obligation to get back to work. So when a leader in the Collaboration Movement – AgIntegrated – came calling, it quickly became obvious that now is the time to make this move. I’m very pleased to be a part of the executive team and to be working with a group of very gifted professionals across the organization.
How is this going to affect agriculture?
The leadership at AgIntegrated has a great perspective on what it’s going to take for the business of ag information to grow as a whole and ultimately to use it to meet tomorrow’s demands for food production. We share in our willingness to stick our necks out there and we don’t get too hung up on what people are saying. During my time in the agricultural industry from 2008 through 2012, I was fortunate to meet a lot of people who taught me about agriculture, who care very deeply about it, and who are building awesome products to meet its needs. Building on those products and relationships through a precision ag targeted consulting offering – and some cool new products of our own – our approach to information management will enable the industry’s best products to drive end user value. We think of ourselves as color-blind technology enablers and although the mission of enabling is never done, we believe that we can help shape tomorrow’s ag information landscape.