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Clarity in pig tech: Crossing the chasm to proof of valueClarity in pig tech: Crossing the chasm to proof of value

Is the pig industry ready for digital transformation?

February 9, 2022

4 Min Read
National Pork Board

Technology in the pork industry is transforming before our very eyes. Companies are making notable progress in providing tech solutions, but do we feel closer to clarity in what business value these solutions offer? In the startup world, chaos is king for a while. Entrepreneurs are fueled by the big dream of an acquisition, feverishly pursuing the reoccurring revenue targets that shape their engagement with producers. Suppose the chaos of the night doesn't transform into the sunrise of clarity.

In that case, the dream dies before dawn, and the dreamer creates additional barriers to entry for the survivors. I suspect producers' cynicism stems from grandiose promises of prosperity from founders who never materialize. The proof of value drowns in the chasm between idea and implementation.

But times are changing. There is a sunrise of clarity emerging on the horizons of opportunity. Clarity is not just about seeing, it's about the ability to deliver. What are some attributes of solutions providers that give you clear vision for the future?

Confidence – A technology provider should work to build trust with the producer. Trust comes from telling the truth, creating realistic expectations, previous history and the ability to perform. There are very few historical success models with technology because it doesn't exist. Much of what we have today was built in the last 24 months. Is your technology provider working to build your trust? 

Context – Many startups are newly formed companies that are less than 3 years old. Often their people are not new. What is the historical performance of the product or the people in previous positions? Do the technology components have a history of use cases in other industries? 

Clarity – Does the solution provide a clear and specific use case? We learned very early in the process "customizable" was not a word potential adaptors of technology wanted to hear. Producers don't want to design their own software but use something that solves their specific issue or problem. 

Collaborative – The ability and willingness of the solutions provider to collaborate with other providers. No one company has the corner on the market, nor will they ever. The ecosystem of solutions needs a strong sense of collaboration. It is the convergence that accelerates business value through collaboration. 

Colleagueship – is a word we don't often use. The definition is "a person who works with youa fellow worker." The number of technology options is overwhelming. How does it all fit together? Who can guide you without leading you down a path of confusion? The digital transformation of pig production will take colleagueship to get it done well. Choosing a trusted advisor/implementor is crucial, much like the relationships producers have with veterinarians, nutritionists and genetics suppliers. The same need will exist for technology adoption.

History shapes the future. In the mid-1990s, manufacturing started digital transformation and experienced several waves of intensity. Pig production mirrors the onset of manufacturing 30 years ago and is now at the threshold of this transformation. Data on the manufacturing production floor was captured by clipboards. The information then was analyzed as the "paper" copies were handed in to the main office. Complicated and overwhelming spreadsheets were created and the impact of decisions was stifled by complexity. Today, the typical production floor in steel and aluminum is monitoring 200,000 data points per second in real-time.   Smart alerts provide intervention strategies to avoid catastrophic losses due to scrap, machine failures and defective material. 

Is the pig industry ready for digital transformation? We have 60%-70% of our balance sheet unattended for 20 hours a day. Feed outages are common. Ventilation and environmental stress are common. If we are honest there is a portion of the inventory that may not see a human in 24 hours. Yes, this industry is ready! Yes, we are crossing the innovation chasm as we speak. Some are just stepping into the water, some are further along. One thing is for sure, there is no going back.

Summit SmartFarms is devoted to creating irresistible places to work in agriculture by simplifying the complex by equipping people to optimize performance through technology.  If you would like to learn more about how Summit SmartFarms can help your organization, you can email Jon Hoek.

Source: Jon Hoek, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly own the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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