Agribusiness, Agricultural Practice and 4IR
The way we live, work, and interact with the world around us is changing as a result of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), a time of fast technological advancement. New technologies being developed to increase crop yields, decrease food waste, and make farming more sustainable are having a big influence on agriculture as a result of this revolution. Agribusiness, Agricultural Practice and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) are interrelated.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution’s Center of Gravity is Agriculture
The term “industrial revolution” describes the predicted shift from well-established technology to entirely new ones, notably the application of AI to better plan and conduct business and the development of strong autonomous robots. Given the triple problem of global economic distress, environmental concerns, and food security, these represent the necessary posture of the agriculture industry. Agriculture is the foundation of a country’s economy, having a substantial impact on both the people and the economy of that country.
It also offers work possibilities to a very significant portion of the people in addition to food and raw materials. However, the agricultural sector is always the first victim of each new wave that emerges globally. Two main topics: Agricultural Information Technology and Agricultural Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) would be included in a study of the agricultural model in the fourth industrial revolution.
Agriculture has been significantly influenced by technological advancements over time. Humans have invented innovative techniques to increase farming productivity and produce more food while preserving the environment, from the invention of the plow to the development of precision farming tools powered by global positioning systems (GPS). There is, however, a lot of concern about the possibility that the robots and computers created during the new industrial revolution could one day develop sentience and start plotting to exterminate humans, as in science fiction movies, even though this fear is lessened by the fact that computer processors cannot act independently.
However, the difficulties will continue to be a topic of discussion, particularly in light of the fact that machine learning now gives computers the ability to learn over time from the data they have been fed and create increasingly exact replications of human acts, which are either directly or indirectly equal to taking initiative. The main lesson to be learned from this is that while the 4IR promises to lessen hardships, poverty, and hunger while also driving the widening of income, its results should be continuously monitored because certain risks are inherent to these promises, one of which is that the widening of income may inescapably result in social inequality, with rich and highly skilled people capturing all the benefits of the epoch to the detriment of the poor and less skilled people.
How can farmers and those working in the agribusiness fully use the fourth industrial revolution?
The 4IR offers several chances to fundamentally alter how we live, work, and communicate. There are just too many elements of it that it is changing, including governance, education, healthcare, and agriculture. The 4IR technologies have the potential to transform the value system of the population and enhance agriculture’s future by providing more value from the sector’s existing value development when correctly tapped. Five stages can assist a firm get started, course-correct along the way, and get to the desired future state fast, whether it is now actively using 4IR solutions or is just starting to see the need:
Build on existing digitization with innovation:
Businesses’ most frequent approach has been to integrate new technology into established business models in the hopes of improving those models with more sophisticated tools and information. But it’s a bad strategy. When technologies allow for brand-new models that may make the existing ones obsolete, improving the performance of the old models is insufficient. The agricultural industry as a whole will soon be completely unrecognizable to participants from a generation ago due to the rapid development of new technology, goods, and services. Agricultural businesses must make the necessary preparations now if they want to be ready for this future.
For instance, several industries that produce pesticides and fertilizers are utilizing 4IR technology to produce better goods more quickly than in the past. That may sound like a success story, but precision farming, which analyzes soil properties and crop behavior down to the square inch using IoT sensors, high-resolution 3D aerial imagery from drones, and AI-powered analytics, may soon drastically reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides altogether. Discovering and developing these new business models, while also developing new markets, is a superior strategy for manufacturers. Whether their clients are farmers, agricultural suppliers, or end users, businesses should focus more on finding better solutions to their customers’ issues than on creating better products.
Instead of utilizing only the items produced by the solution provider, many effective solutions may include goods and services from many businesses. Companies must completely comprehend their existing competitive position, including its strengths and vulnerabilities, in order to decide which solutions to provide and how to do so. In the future agriculture ecosystem, leaders may then choose where they wish to compete. They will require the necessary skills to succeed in whichever competitive position they select. To encourage a company to grow and develop, joint ventures, incubators, and acquisitions should all be taken into account. Depending on the competitive stance they choose, businesses will need a wide range of talents.
Contesting the effects of automation:
Digitization is arguably the best illustration of how 4IR technologies can and should go beyond just enhancing the efficiency of existing business models. New agricultural value chains are being led by these technologies, and digital enterprises are generating new money at each stage of the chain. The agriculture businesses with a forward-thinking approach do more than merely collect and use data. They assist clients in determining the data they want and the best means of obtaining it, as well as in standardizing and analyzing data in order to identify trends and create suggestions. In other words, they create a “so what” out of the mountains of data that so many enterprises are now buried in.
Producing this “so what” in practice typically entails using analytics to better manage logistics, pricing, customer performance, and other factors while also improving the efficiency of equipment operation and feed composition. For instance, John Deere now offers data management services together with its agricultural machinery. With the help of the company’s Operations Center system, farmers can gather data from machinery, regardless of whether it was made by Deere, view and analyze that data on dashboards, share it with partners (including a variety of third-party, software-as-a-service providers), and control machinery remotely. Data analytics, for example, is no longer a cost center that is being trimmed at John Deere and businesses similar to it. It is a strategic competence that has the potential to develop new company models.
Networking and cooperating with participants in the same industry:
The data sources and new technology that future agricultural business models rely on cannot be gathered, managed, developed, or utilized by a single organization. Many players, including conglomerates, startups, and farmers in the field, will still be needed for the autonomous super-farms and bio-factories that may soon supply a large portion of humanity’s food. Leading agricultural businesses will be adept at forming alliances with both big and small businesses, with academic institutions and other sources of innovation, in order to spot trends and tap into outside expertise. They’ll be “extroverted,” outward-looking businesses with the ambition to plan new agricultural ecologies. Additionally, they’ll employ mergers and acquisitions to close gaps in business models built on the 4IR.
A company’s appraisal of its own strengths and the areas where it would be wiser to benefit from an external partner’s skills should serve as the foundation for any collaboration. One business could excel at food processing, but it might require partners with knowledge of food formulation. Another could have fascinating research and development, but it needs partners to commercialize its products. To succeed, one must first recognize their place in the future agricultural value chain, then form alliances and close agreements to improve that position.
Think about it Dynamic Yield, an Israeli AI business with great capabilities in applying data to tailor consumer selections, was recently bought by McDonald’s (located at the bottom of the agricultural value chain). The features in the new asset will be used by McDonald’s to change the digital drive-through menus according on the time of day, the weather, how busy the restaurant is, and popular menu items. The AI system will immediately offer other things to complement a customer’s order when they put it. It accumulates the system using the data, and as time passes, it will become more effective on its own.
Developing distinctive business models based on core competencies:
Every organization, both within and outside of agriculture, strives to be more creative. But those whose initiatives are founded on a thorough knowledge of their company’s current capabilities and culture will come out on top. Cargill, for instance, contributed to the creation of an open source blockchain system that offers reusable digital tools for supply chain use cases including food safety and traceability. It does not only sell Cargill products because the system is open source. But the business is positioning itself in the center of global innovation, establishing connections with future suppliers and customers, and giving itself the chance to mold blockchain in a way that will be advantageous to it.
In order to properly screen, analyze, and prioritize emerging innovations, agricultural companies—regardless of their area of expertise—will require protocols. In addition, they will require internal R&D and technology units capable of quickly building pilots, cross-functional collaboration to more effectively identify and develop and implement the best ideas, an agile approach to quickly bring the most promising ideas to market, and continuous feedback loops that take advantage of real-world customer input. It’s crucial for businesses to experiment with a variety of ideas, “fail fast” with less promising ones, then redeploy resources to the ideas that succeed.
Taking advantage of sustainable business opportunities:
Being environmentally friendly is not only a nice concept. For the agriculture industry, it represents one of the biggest profit prospects. By 2030, economic prospects in the food and environmental sectors might be worth $2.3 trillion, according to research supported by the United Nations. Such chances extend well beyond marketing. They are based on reducing food waste, reformulating goods and packaging, creating new fertilizers and more precise methods of enhancing plant traits, managing farms, forests, and oceans with smaller carbon footprints, promoting micro-irrigation, and boosting composting and energy capture, among other things. Companies need to be aware of the cultural norms, ecological shifts, and technology advancements driving these and other prospects for success.
They need to be able to measure the sustainability of their operations and outputs and incorporate sustainability into all of their financial and commercial choices. For instance, Coca-Cola and Unilever have each established challenging and quantifiable sustainability goals: Unilever will cut its environmental footprint (as measured in areas like greenhouse gases, water use, and packaging) in half by 2030 and Coca-Cola will collect and recycle the equivalent of every bottle or can it sells globally by that year. In order to quantify goals in this manner, business models and long-term strategy planning must incorporate nonfinancial measures.
Notably, all three of the additional fundamental competencies—excellent data and analytics, cross-value chain cooperation, and internal innovation—are necessary for sustainability. It is a difficult undertaking to be ready for a new world, but many agricultural businesses and the tech, industrial, and logistical firms they collaborate with are already making headway in this direction. Agribusiness executives may continue to expand into 2030 and beyond by picking the best location to compete in the agricultural ecosystem of the future and developing the necessary competencies to succeed, all while assisting in the alimentation and sustainability of people throughout the world.
In summary, traditional agriculture is an extractable process where all resources, including people, water, and land, are collected and used right away. Furthermore, modern agriculture makes use of planned technology and stresses resource management techniques that promote resource conservation and renewability, pushing the expansion of infrastructure at the same time as rural development, urbanization, and industry. The fourth industrial revolution (4IR) is beginning the story of every agricultural actor being transformed from small-scale family farmers to large-scale industrial producers who generate food and associated items.
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