Monthly Archives: May 2014

Data intelligence to boost crop yields

Data for farmers

A recent article from The Economist highlights how new data technologies are set to create digital disruption for farmers.

CRops economistHybrid seed producer, Monsanto, have bought out a Silicon Valley start-up for $1 billion USD to build their system of ‘Prescription Planting’. The system can tell farmers with precision which seeds to plant and how to cultivate seeds in each patch of land. It is predicted that the new technology will be the biggest change to the agriculture industry since the introduction of genetically modified crops.

The system was originally created by two former Google employees, who mapped out 25 million fields in the US and superimposed climate information on top.

Crop Insights

While the program was originally intended to help sell crop insurance, Monsanto have used the tool to provide a sophisticated planting system that can predict which seeds grow best in which field under specific conditions.This is done by combining the climate information with their extensive data on seed yields.

Many planters are already capable of steering themselves using GPS technology. Precision planting provides a further progression as farmers can now plant with different depths and spacing, varying according to the weather.

Results are already showing great promise, with yields increasing by 5% over two years.


Some farmers are concerned over how such technologies will affect the agriculture industry.

Advanced technologies may remove some of the discretion and skill that farmers have been accustomed to for generations. Furthermore, there is concern over what organisations like Monsanto will do with the data they collect.

There is grey area over who owns the data collected, and hence whether data organisations can on-sell data to competitors, use information for commodity trading or for acquisition of underperforming farmland.

American farmers are already responding to such threats, with the American Farm Bureau drawing up a code of conduct for data organisations to comply with. The code will provide farmers with ownership of their data and prevents organisations from sharing their data with third parties or using it for purposes other than those for which it was provided.

Takeaways for Australian Farmers

Digital and data insights are set to greatly impact agricultural industries. While developments are still in early stages, expect more frameworks, policy and competition to evolve around these technologies over the next few years.

Those who are willing to become early adopters of change may find themselves gaining significant competitive advantage. For more information on how technology is disrupting business visit our sister website

Five social media tools that can drive growth in your business

By now every business owner knows they should at the very least be considering social media in their business. It has become widely accepted, and research has proven, that social media when utilised correctly can improve marketing efforts and increase customer engagement.

How do we decide which social tools best apply to our business? The list of tools is growing and changing continuously, which requires ongoing reassessment. When coming across new technologies, it is always advisable to analyse the following:

  • Do your customers use this technology or are they likely to in the future?
  • How will the new technology deliver value to our customer?
  • What resources and skills will we need to utilise the tool?
  • What associated costs exist?
  • What risks will we need to manage?

Try these questions on five tools you may not have considered for your business:


Pinterest Kitchen ProductsPinterest is a tool that all businesses with visual products  should investigate closely. It follows the traditional notion of ‘pinning’ pictures you like to a pinboard, but now users can choose pictures from anywhere across the web and pin and curate multiple images on their own boards.

Communities of users with common interests choose and aggregate images on Pinterest. Interests are wide and varied with popular interests including food, cars, education and celebrities. Many businesses use the tool to organise and share their own images and make them available to relevant interest groups. Good imagery gets shared by individuals and communities and is a great way to promote the visual aspects of your brand.

Any image on the web can be pinned to a user’s board, which in turn can be shared and drive traffic back to your website (providing gains in Search Engine Optimisation and potential sales leads). Big retailers such as Nordstrom and Target in the US are increasingly using Pinterest to drive instore purchases.

So how can you capitalise?

Start creating great images for your website and Pinterest account. If required, consider hiring a photographer for a day to really get the best out of your products and brand!


Whatsapp has made big news recently having been acquired by Facebook for US$16 billion. The mobile app (available for iPhone and Android) has made waves, allowing users to privately message individuals or groups using their mobile internet connection. The beauty of Whatsapp is its simplicity.

The ability to send free messages to groups has made real-time, mobile collaboration for businesses and working groups very accessible. If you work in a small team that needs a simple, and fast way to communicate as a group on the road – this may be the tool for you.


Like YouTube, Vimeo is a video platform that is embeddable and shareable and allows you to upload your own videos and create a customised video feed.

However, many argue that Vimeo is more suited for high quality video production with its cleaner interface and higher streaming quality.

YouTube is still the most used tool to share your video content and improve SEO. However, if your brand is creating high quality image content that you want to share in higher definition with less interference from advertising – Vimeo may be a great tool for you!


Snapchat is still widely perceived as a social messaging tool for teenagers, but with the continuing trend towards private messaging and image-heavy messages, more businesses are beginning to adopt Snapchat as a new marketing tool.

This great article from Social Media Examiner provides five examples of brands using Snapchat for their marketing activities. Be clear on your strategy, how you’re going to use the tool and what value you’re going to add to your customer. Snapchat can work really well for music and sporting events, to create buzz for new product launches or to drive sales by offering limited-time discounts.

Snapchat is a reciprocal social tool, meaning that both parties have to accept the other as a friend before messaging can occur. So you’ll have to offer some value to get your customers to engage with you! Be creative.


Yammer is one of the more widely used internal collaboration tools (although there are now many).

Internal communication tools erase the necessity for long, complicated email chains that are impossible to backtrack. They also aid collaboration, creativity and innovation.

There is a misconception that such tools are only of use in large organisations. However, many smaller organisations make great use of tools like Yammer, being able to share interesting and useful content, add topic tags to group similar content over time and being able to collaborate while colleagues are out-of-office.

Regardless of your business size, Yammer can provide a great central knowledge hub. The Yammer website provides some great examples of organisations benefiting from internal collaboration.

What tools do you use? Tell us your stories on Twitter using #digitalhume.