Interoperability – why it’s essential for the future of digital agriculture
Interoperability is the ability to share and utilize data between devices and systems without interference or confusion. The need for data to move between applications and the need for applications and hardware to interoperate remains a sticking point across the supply chain.
While digital solutions have been widely embraced and implemented into daily practice, each piece of software operates on its own ecosystem. As a result, users often have to manually input data for each application – a process that is, at best, inconvenient, and increases the likelihood of lost productivity and double entry due to human error.
Glen Andrews, Regional Director for Proagrica in Asia Pacific, recently raised that these apps rarely work together in a way that drives value for a business. “The smaller problem is typing data into several different systems,” said Glen. “The bigger problem is that the data doesn’t then overlap. What if you could bring those different apps together to do another unique more valuable thing?”
Mark Pawsey, Business Development Director for Proagrica, Australia, agrees with this assessment: “Users are having to enter data in an app, and then the next app, and then enter it again. In a lot of cases, they’re entering the same data multiple times to drive that solution. It’s not viable, it’s not efficient. When they change one of those data attributes they have to change it in everything. It’s just not functional.”
Despite this, many service providers are reticent about opening their application programming interfaces (APIs) to join up with other solutions. In theory, a network of compatible solutions has the potential to better deliver valuable returns to their users and boost the provider’s offering.
“In theory, ag tech companies want to support this,” says Glen, “but in practice I think many businesses wrongly view other services as competitors, when really they are potential partners to deliver a unified service offering that, ultimately, benefits everyone in the supply chain.”
In the past, we have seen a major disconnect in ag retail between business solutions, back-end agronomy information, and precision ag tools. Now, more businesses are taking advantage of unified data solutions to unlock their full potential. The Digital Farmers Conference encapsulated the possibilities of the unified data solution, and the boosted efficiency and value that can be gained across the supply chain – not just for businesses, but for the people working in agriculture.