What a Cow Can Teach You About Big Data

What a Cow Can Teach You About Big Data

“I didn’t see this one coming.”

So says Brandon Perkins, product marketing manager with GE Industrial Data Intelligence. Perkins was sitting in on a talk at his company’s Intelligent Platforms User Summit this fall when Stuart Fisher from Zoetis took the stage.

“I was well prepared to hear customer testimonials from industries such as oil and gas, aviation and power generation, but it never crossed my mind that the most fascinating story would come from the livestock industry.”

Perkins admits he had preconceived notions around the definition of an “asset,” but Fisher’s presentation helped him grow his understanding of how ranchers use living assets (cattle) and how big data can lead to big opportunities.

“One of the really compelling parts of Stuart’s presentation was when he showed a head-to-head comparison chart between the cowboys’ and the predictive analytics system’s ability to identify sick cattle,” he says. “The cowboys were looking for physical signs of sickness, like drooping heads or excessive sitting, and thus selected more cattle to be evaluated. This might make the cowboys seem more accurate or successful than the predictive system, but it turns out many of their selections were false positives, and the animals were actually not sick.”

False positives cut into profit potential because the ranchers were over-servicing their assets, Perkins says. The presentation reinforces his belief that data is “the fuel of the 21st century.”

“Only time will tell if this solution has the ability to go mainstream,” he says. “But for now, it’s transforming the way his company does business, driving greater efficiency and productivity. Not to mention protecting our food supply.”

Click here for more insights from the GE Intelligent Platforms User Summit, or share how you are using big data on your farming operation on the AgWeb discussion boards.

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