Blue-sky thinking about the future of agriculture is both inspiring and intimidating—but always interesting. What will the future hold?
There’s no silver bullet for ag tech, says Ed Parsons, Google geospatial technologist. “It’s going to come from small companies taking existing technologies and making them less complex,” Parsons told attendees at the first-ever Farm Journal AgTech Expo, which was held this past December in Indianapolis.
Farmers will play a key role in the evolution of technology, says John Ellis a technologist and global consultant. When someone asks, “what do you do?” and you respond you’re a farmer, he says that’s the wrong answer. “You are a technologist who has chosen to deliver farm products,” Ellis says.
The technology revolution is quickly coming at all levels, Ellis says. For example, it took 60 years for the telephone to be widely adopted in the U.S.; it took only 10 months for the iPad.
Ellis says the patent Google was awarded in 2016 to push content to the car in exchange for information about the car will transform the relationship between vehicles and data. “Software companies are driving this, not the original equipment manufacturers,” he says.
His advice: To plan for success in the years ahead: get comfortable being uncomfortable, think differently and prepare for the data economy.
The future of technology
Watch these trends unfold to stay ahead of the technology curve, recommends Ed Parsons, Google geospatial technologist.
- The world is becoming more urban, not suburban. People and humanity will be more condensed in cities like New York and Tokyo. Big cities are very efficient. As a result, different types of food production will have to happen in these urban areas.
- Digital natives have formed a new type of consumer. These connected consumers buy online, and they want—and expect—to have access to information about products and services.
- Platforms are providing a major difference in the shape of business. Massive amounts of data are generated every day just by us living our lives. The data alone is not valuable, but what is beneficial is the ability to cheaply store, process and analyze it. Companies can compute more data, faster.
- If you don’t add value to a process, you will be removed. A classic example is travel agencies. Today you can book any travel reservation directly with the company, completely sidestepping travel agents. This same pattern will happen in all sorts of different industries.
- Information has to be accessible and uncomplicated. Today, few new technologies are being created. Instead the value is in simplifying complicated technologies that already exist.