Iron and Silicon

July 3, 2012 05:47 AM
Iron and Silicon

 You don’t hear a lot of 175-year-old companies described as "agile," but that’s exactly the direction John Deere has taken with its latest round of online and mobile advancements.

Big iron, meet Silicon Valley.
Company officials point to as the centerpiece of these new digital tools. MyJohnDeere serves as a central online portal to access, view, archive and manage a wide variety of business information. Users can access applications such as JDLink for real-time information about their farm operations, field locations and equipment performance data. Also on the password-secured website are applications such as AgLogic, JDParts, John Deere Financial, Stellar Support and My Equipment. This portal can be accessed via computer, smartphone or other handheld mobile device.
"This will be a new suite of technology to help producers plan, run and analyze their operations through the entire farming cycle," says Nathan Greuel, product manager with the company’s Intelligent Solutions Group (ISG), the driving force behind John Deere displays, receivers, guidance systems, information systems and more. "The user can access their MyJohnDeere site to view the information that is most important to them, as well as allow access to their dealer, farm manager or other third-party individuals."
David Everitt, president of the company’s agriculture and turf division, says the company understands the sensitivity of data management and has joined the ranks of AgGateway, a consortium of agribusinesses that want to "promote, enable and expand eBusiness in Agriculture."
"One of our big issues is data privacy," Everitt says. "The combine at some point becomes a rolling data collector. Who’s data is that? We think it’s the farmer’s."
John Deere extends the theme of "access" with its new Remote Display Access technology, which allows users to view the operator’s GreenStar3 2630 display screen from any computer or mobile device. Once the display is synched, the remote user can help the equipment operator identify any problems and navigate the steps needed to resolve any issues.
"Having remote access to this real-time information saves unnecessary trips to the field, improves service from dealers and increases the productivity of the equipment and field operations," says ISG product manager Dave Mulder.
Other recent company announcements include accuracy improvements to its StarFire 3000 Receiver and greater scope of analysis possible with its HarvestLab silage tool.
So what’s the driving force behind all of these digital developments? Aaron Senneff, ISG development manager, says the embracing of the concept of "agile development" is a likely culprit.
Agile development is a term you might expect to hear in Los Altos, Calif., not Moline, Ill. It is a system built around continual adjustments, where goals are reevaluated from every few weeks to every several months. John Deere operates its agile development processes around a two-month cycle.
"As a result of this, our engineers have a better opportunity to plan and respond to what’s happening in the marketplace today," says Aaron Senneff, ISG development manager.
Senneff says an agile attitude will help the company continue to juggle both iron and silicon solutions.
"Agile lets us embrace change," he says.

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