For many people, the idea of farming still conjures images of third-world techniques with old tools and limited yield, but the truth is very different. Farming is a digital industry that employs all the latest technologies from satellite imaging to GPS to wireless networks, and as the world’s population grows another 2 billion people by 2050, farming must continue to advance to meet that need.
Many organizations are focused on how to produce the food necessary to sustain such a population. One strategy is to make sure farmers have the right tools to successfully raise and harvest the produce they sow. DuPont’s crop protection business has developed a set of apps that give farmers and sales reps across the world mobile access to the information they need, when and where they need it.
Facing the Forces of Nature
Crop researchers estimate between 20 and 40 percent of food production is lost to forces of nature — pests, insects, disease, and weeds. DuPont provides the solutions to counter those forces and boost yields, but farmers don’t always know about the options.
Joanne Hewitson, digital marketing lead for DuPont’s crop protection business, explains, “One of the biggest challenges for our marketing team is to take the value propositions of our products and translate them down into a market through our sales reps to the customers, so we can help them understand what our products are about. On top of that, we work in ecosystems — there are different crops in every country, different pests, different regulatory environments, and as a result of that, slightly different product lines in each country.”
The trick is to make every connection add value. Joanne says, “If you’ve got a farmer that you know is in the Corn Belt there’s absolutely no point in sending him information about our citrus products.” Joanne is investing in technology to customize the messaging and get the right message to the right person, so they have it the moment they need it.
Finding the Right Tool for the Job
DuPont first simplifies how it stores and accesses digital information. The company has more than 10,000 sales reps and contract salespeople in 130 countries worldwide. Joanne’s team developed a digital asset management (DAM) that provides a central repository for them to upload all their sales collateral, presentations, and other aids and then share those materials across borders.
Joanne says, “We centralize as much as we can for efficiency, but we also give the countries a great deal of flexibility to deliver the right message to the right farmer. And because we work in a highly regulated industry, one of the biggest benefits of having a single source for our content is having clean version control. Our teams are able to put an asset into the system once and then push that out to a website or app or both, and we know we’ve got up-to-date information on all platforms at the same time without our teams having to duplicate work.”
For the farmers, the team designed an app that puts all of the product information they need at their fingertips. Joanne explains, “The German team was printing a 400-page book every year with all of our labels and safety data sheets, and then the farmers would have to keep that book on the seat of their truck or in their tractor for when they want to apply our products. The app is designed to provide that same information via a smartphone and it enables the customer to find what they need and then click through very quickly to get the label or the safety data sheet offline out in the field — all while saving literally tons of paper.”
The app gives accurate, up-to-date information to farmers instantly and at significantly lower cost to DuPont. It’s a win-win situation that streamlines the farming experience and helps farmers know their options.
Sowing the Seeds of Change
These tools save time and money for DuPont and its customers, but Joanne knows there is more to do. Initially, the apps rolled out with standard content that DuPont’s regional teams could customize to match their specific regulatory environments and customer bases. Going forward, Joanne has more innovation in mind.
By harnessing the power of analytics, she and her team are able to track what users want to see. “What I really like,” says Joanne, “is that you’ve got the ability to look at all the assets and see who’s using what — which content is being used most effectively. So that enables our teams to focus on creating more of that content and saving their time and budgets for the effective stuff, rather than wasting time on creating content that’s never getting used.”
Future updates will include authentication and geolocation, leading to even better personalization. The intent is to customize the messaging to match the user and moment. Joanne also plans some basic functionality upgrades with things like “… calculators or pest identification tools. Being able to integrate those with our apps will really allow us to deliver a one-stop experience for our customers and be able to really delight them and make it easy and convenient for them to work with us.”
Joanne’s growth plan is to use the tracking tools she has through Adobe Experience Manager to continue learning about what her customers — both internal and external — are looking for. Then she can regularly update the respective apps to provide more of that content, always with an eye toward nurturing the best possible experience for her users. By making important information instantly available, Joanne is doing her part to ensure that the farmers of the future can produce what we need to feed our growing population.
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