20 Jun 2017
There are an estimated 2.8 million available in the Google play store and 2.2 million in the Apple app store. It’s a real (profitable) career for many and kids will continue to be drawn to it.
There are many touted benefits for each app but broadly they tend to fall under the banner of one or more of: improving business productivity, enhancing decision making, meeting compliance requirements, driving cost efficiencies, mitigating risks, shaping supply chain relationships and generally making it easier to do business. This all aims to help the bottom line.
There has been notable growth in the number of apps used to record a range of core farm-management data, manage tasks and meet regulatory requirements.
In part this reflects a move from paper-based to digital record keeping, but also the changing landscape of farm ownership, increasing complexities within many businesses, and rising compliance requirements.
" In the primary sectors it could be argued technology is set to speed up the rate of change."
For all businesses technology continues to remake how many core functions operate. It is also reshaping entire supply chains and the channel to market for many products and services.
From a consumer’s point of view it continues to improve the functionality of existing products and services, as well as create new ones. It introduces new forms of competition for incumbents but also creates new opportunities.
At ANZ research we’ve taken a look at some of the apps being used by various businesses. While not an exhaustive list they cover a range of core functions.
In the accounting and finance space there are a range of software applications to help budget, analyse cashflows and compile financial accounts for tax and benchmark purposes.
These help businesses to track financial performance, improve tactical and strategic decision making and meet regulatory requirements (specifically tax and payroll).
Has functions related to cashflow budgeting (review and forecasting); financial reporting (benchmarking, balance sheet configuration etc); physical performance tracking and reconciliation for milk and livestock; automation of data collection and compliance tasks (such as GST and PAYE); multi-farm reporting and consolidation; invoicing; and wagebook (leave entitlements, holidays, deductions, PAYE etc)..
Has functions related to cashflow budgeting (review and forecasting); financial reporting (benchmarking, balance sheet configuration, accounts etc); detailed physical performance tracking for milk, livestock, crops; and an information-sharing network with key advisors and others, including benchmarking comparisons across specific groups.
Many of the apps have been designed to help provide analysis and answers for what a change in a particular management practice might mean for the physical and financial performance of a business or particular practice/activity.
This helps guide day-to-day and strategic decision making to increase business efficiencies, optimise performance, and increase profitability.
Has functions related to detailed feed budgeting (forecast pasture cover and feed requirements based on livestock policies, live weight, livestock movements etc); what-if analysis to determine biological and financial feasibility of short and long-term farm system changes; multi-farm reporting; financial and physical performance benchmarking for sheep, beef and deer farms; and a pasture growth forecaster.
A tool designed to assist on-farm monitoring and support a structured decision-making process to improve the timing and accuracy of decisions. Provides regular, standardised recording of physical farm data. This is then used to identify strategies to manage feed-supply variability and address feed deficits and surpluses at certain times of the year. It can also be used to complete accurate cost-benefit analysis for various stock policies and feed-supply options.
Planning and recording of activities in many businesses has become more important for two main reasons. Firstly, compliance requirements, both market and regulator-driven, have increased, meaning there is a need for more advanced recordkeeping to track and monitor these.
Secondly, many businesses have become larger, often with multiple properties and more staff than the traditional owner-operator model. This has added more complexity and increased management requirements.
Allows farmers to collect, store and share their day-to-day and operational information in one central place. This information can be shared with stakeholders, management and staff. It is designed to mimic the way farmers have traditionally managed their information. Data can be collected offline with the ability to take a photograph and then load it against an entry (i.e. job list or a hazard).
Sheep and beef farmers are the main users, but dairy, mixed cropping and agricultural contractors are also using it. The main areas of focus are general records (stock treatments, livestock movements, chemical applications and paddock information); planning (diary, calendar, weekly planner, farm notices); human resources (time sheets, forms, recording leave); health & safety records; and information storage (farm maps, key phone numbers, copies of meeting notes etc).
Its main functions relate to the recording and monitoring of information on dairy farms related to health and safety (identifying and recording risks, emergency plan, notification of incidents, management of tasks arising from risks and incidents etc); staff and general farm tasks; and time management of staff (allocation of tasks, roster builder, timesheets to monitor hours).
It acts as a central information registry for these functions over multiple farms and individuals involved in day-to-day activities. Future developments include looking to incorporate budgeting and cashflow tools, broadening functionality.
The benefits of these apps are fairly obvious, such as reducing costs (direct, fines and management time) with meeting regulatory and compliance requirements and avoiding any potential risks (business, legal etc) associated with not fulfilling obligations.
Used to monitor, report and manage a range of health and safety risks. Specifically records and monitors meeting details; company information and key documents (insurance details, consents, permits, staff details etc); hazards and their management requirements; incidents that occur and their investigation, as well as future mitigation strategies; staff training requirements; and equipment maintenance and quarantine obligations.
Used to monitor, report and manage a range of health and safety risks on farms and orchards. Specifically records and monitors hazards and their management requirements; incidents that occur; movements of staff, contractors and other service providers; and an emergency plan, procedures and contacts. Includes a mapping function of business to identify and manage specific health and safety risks. All staff can use and update information in real time.
Supply chain partners
A range of businesses have specific apps to transfer information to and from suppliers, as well as conduct transactions. Many of them allow for the seamless transfer of digital information (eg. transactional data, audit information and general news) between parties. This increases transparency, replaces paper-based information, and improves the speed of information transfer.
The next step for many of the enterprise management, recording and compliance apps is the integration of this information with other supply chain partners to offer consumers verification and traceability of a product’s quality, safety and social responsibility standards.
Online platform setup to specifically buy and sell livestock. Stock are listed with automated alerts sent to interested buyers. Buyers then place bids. Once accepted, StockX facilitates the payment between the parties and the buyer usually organises transport. StockX manages any disputes which arise from a transaction.
Livestock producers can see real-time processing results; access their latest detailed processing information for the last six months; keeps a record of annual processing information; make booking requests; check statistics and schedules; and receive industry updates.
Apps profiled are a selection of total apps studied. You can see the full list in ANZ NZ's latest Agri Focus report.
In the primary sectors it could be argued technology is set to speed up the rate of change.
Over the last seven years the annual compound growth in the total number of apps available has been around 60 per cent annually. It’s a likely career for a lot of kids who are already tablet and app savvy.
Our list is non-exhaustive but offers plenty of food for thought on the various tools available to make a specific function more efficient.
The key message is a technology tsunami is upon the primary sectors. Farmers and growers need to embrace the changes these new technologies bring as they are all aimed at increasing the bottom line and perhaps just as importantly improving the ease of doing business.
Adoption of a new piece of technology into a business can sometimes involve a leap of faith for the non-tech savvy. But this adoption burden can often be eased through upfront research.
I would encourage farmers and growers to pick out at least one or two of these apps and give them a go. Mastering the use of such technology within a business will be a key part of success in the future.
Con William is a rural economist at ANZ NZ
The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.
20 Jun 2017
20 Jun 2017
08 Jun 2017