Those words helped define a little technology company called Apple Computer.
Today, another technology company called Farmers Business Network (FBN) hopes that same contrarian approach – thinking differently when it comes to farmer’s data – propels them to similar success.
It was FBN’s intent out of the gate to be a disrupter in the competitive and growing field of agriculture based Big Data firms. At first glance there are three things that are noticeably different about FBN when compared to the current competition in the marketplace.
First difference – they are independent with no direct ties to any of the big name agribusiness giants – many of whom already have their data hook in the water. Arguably the biggest hook currently in the water is a company called Climate.com aka Monsanto. The Achilles heel of someone like a Climate.com is – whether right or wrong – they are not perceived as biased by most producers and their intentions are certainly going to be questioned when you have a multi-billion dollar agricultural conglomerate as the backside benefactor of such customer information.
FBN knows this and their business model is based on the logic that someone within the industry has got to wear the white hat. Why not them? Farmers respect such independence and are much more willing to share data with a company that is working for them as their primary day job instead of selling seed, tractors or fertilizer.
Second difference – cost. The price of admission is reasonable and attractive. Rather than complicate things with a per acre pricing model or multiple tier pricing – FBN’s initial entry level product was rolled out to the market at a flat-fee of $500. Simple and affordable is always a good marketing strategy and FBN knew that in order to attract farmers in numbers they couldn’t discriminate based on the number of acres a farmer farms.
There is no doubt that as FBN grows in subscribers and capabilities there will be premium services that emerge. Even Henry Ford when he started out only offered one color of car – black! That soon changed and so will what is possible to do with data as both FBN and farmers continue to discover what is possible and what is practical down on the farm.
Third difference – your data is shared anonymously among your peers – aka fellow farmers – and not among biased industry insiders. The peer-to-peer model of sharing data makes much more sense than the highly filtered data that might be published by private seed, fertilizer and iron companies as part of their marketing efforts.
This sharing of unbiased agronomic data is actually nothing new. In reality, a similar model has been around for years and it is called the university Extension system. As part of the original research mission of the land-grant universities, Extension was the vehicle used to deliver the discoveries of such research to the farmer. In some ways what FBN is trying to do is become the modern-day digital equivalent to the original extension system. However, instead of research being bottled up in tiny university test plots now with FBN every farm and every acre becomes its own test plot.
What is the true power of FBN? That remains to be discovered. But it will likely be discovered by farmers who are able to directly glean unbiased, affordable information from people they trust – peers who have actually tilled an acre of land and seen how things work in the real world and not just in some petri dish. Up until now some growers have been reluctant to share their data with others because they didn’t share the same values and goals. FBN has finally given farmers a choice and a voice when it comes to looking at the world of Big Data.
For more information on FBN and how to start learning ways your farm can benefit from the knowledge of fellow farmers contact Steve Cubbage at Prime Meridian at 417-667-4471 or via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Prime Meridian is also promoting FBN to its customers by including a free one-year FBN subscription for any farmer that signs up for its Precision First data management plans.