In this guest article, Lauren LaFronz at Triple Point Technology looks at the role that mobile technologies can play in the fast-moving and increasingly volatile agri-food sector.
The new reality for agribusiness is that industry participants must adopt the latest sophisticated technology-based tools to protect their competitive advantage.
The complexity of managing unpredictable crop yields, changing demographics and demand patterns, and the interconnected, highly volatile wholesale markets are here to stay. Early adopters of desktop solutions gained a competitive advantage and those similarly on-trend in the mobile space may find the same.
The power and prevalence of today’s mobile devices is transforming the shape of the modern enterprise. Mobile applications empower executives to make informed, rapid decisions by giving them the data and analysis they need, when and where they need it. Industry experts believe that in four years approximately 50 percent of the devices connected to corporate networks will be mobile.
Food prices and market volatility have surged in recent years. According to the IMF Commodity Price Index, prices have almost doubled since 2005, while radical commodity price fluctuations of up to 40% are being observed according to advisory group, Spend Matters.
Companies at all stages in the food supply chain have increasingly turned to commodity risk management systems to improve decision-making and minimise risk. These sophisticated platforms enable firms to:
• Streamline the supply chain
• Provide product customisation
• Optimise complex trading
• Ensure compliance
• Manage price risk
These systems are typically provided through desktop or laptop interfaces, but the growing trend in technology is toward mobile devices.
In a survey conducted for IBM, 75% of executives stated that mobile devices are critical to the long-term success of their companies, and research from Forrester shows that 75% of companies report increased productivity using mobile applications.
In the agricultural sector, evidence suggests that the use of mobile phones by farmers and aggregators upstream has had a measurable, positive impact on supply-chain efficiency, particularly in developing nations. The improved flow of information between geographically dispersed stakeholders and often isolated producers has helped improve crop yields, co-ordinate logistics and reduce prices.
These benefits also extend to downstream operations, where executing commodity trades quickly and efficiently based on real-time pricing data is vital for optimising profits in a volatile market. Mobile applications can help ensure that deals are rapidly and accurately captured in enterprise systems, enabling companies to mitigate market risk.
However, it’s important to remember that entire desktop solutions that have been ported on to a mobile platform are sub-optimal. The ideal solution will include only those tasks that are suitable to the mobile environment; developed to offer seamless performance of the appropriate key functions.
For agriculture, this will include making sure that an offline mode is available to capture transactions in areas without internet access, and transmit them automatically when a connection becomes available.
The field of competition is mobbing to the mobile space. It’s time to take them up or risk being permanently left behind.
Lauren LaFronz is marketing director at Triple Point Technology.