Data Democracy in Agribusiness

The influx of ever-expanding volumes of data being generated from sources such as digitized grain transactions and sophisticated on-farm technology is becoming increasingly challenging for many agribusinesses. Figuring out how to interpret and utilize this data to gain market advantage is a key challenge our industry is facing.

A hot term that has been tossed around the agriculture industry throughout the past decade is ‘data democracy’. Essentially, data democratization means removing all the bottlenecks that restrict access to the data, providing an easy way to organize, understand, and access it. The ultimate goal of data democratization is to expedite the decision-making process and identify new opportunities by getting the right data to the people who need it, when they need it.

Why Implement?

In today’s challenging business environment, agribusinesses that are empowering their front-line staff with access to timely information are finding that they can speed up their decision-making capabilities and drive an edge versus their competition.

Opportunities exist within the agribusiness industry for innovative companies with a forward-thinking outlook to make the first leap, disrupt the marketplace, and gain significant market share. Other industries are already ahead of the curve, so the lessons learned from their leading proponents can be used accelerate ahead of the competition.

Concerns and Challenges

Not everyone is sold on the idea of data democracy. A number of concerns get raised, including:

  • Poor decisions could result from the misuse or misinterpretation of data.
  • There is potential for duplication of efforts across different teams without a centralized analysis group.
  • Uncontrolled access to data could expose sensitive information.

Keys to Success

All of that being said, none of these challenges are insurmountable and can be addressed with a well thought out strategy. To be successful, organizations need to formulate a comprehensive strategy that focuses on all four pillars of data democracy:

  1. People need to be empowered to incorporate the data into their decision-making process without having to overcome any hurdles.
  2. Processes need to be put in place to ensure corporate governance requirements are met.
  3. The technology needs to be easy to use. Shield the users from complexities.
  4. The data has to be trusted by being comprehensive and accurate.

Data Democracy in Agribusiness: Pillars of Data Democracy

Failure to address any of the pillars could put the overall strategy at risk and fail to deliver the full benefits data democracy can deliver.

What About Our Industry?

In the agribusiness industry, long established back-office business applications are focused on entering and storing transactions with difficult to access and complex database schemas. This has led to a proliferation of disjointed and unstructured data held outside of core systems. It’s essential this valuable data is made easily available so everyone who needs it can use it. This includes your agronomy sales staff, your customer care team, and executives to name a few.

The Future of Data Democracy

It’s too soon to realize the full benefits and impact data democracy will bring. Agribusinesses need to develop and execute their strategy and evolve internal processes alongside the evolving tools to fully exploit them. If you don’t, the competition almost certainly will, and you will be left scrambling to catch up and survive.

This article was contributed by Stephen Berry, Lead Software Architect with Cultura Technologies