A pharmaceutical company saw fragmentation in the agriculture industry and an opportunity for technology to help farmers better manage information on their product including nutrition, environmental conditions, genetic data, and contractual arrangements.
An existing software product that was being used by large farmers for data collection, management and interpretation was not meeting the needs of some of the large farmers who turned to developing their own information systems. The client sought to develop a competing platform that would provide data transparency for farmers, biochemists and geneticists around the health, treatment and management of their produce.
The pharmaceutical company launched a beta version of their software but was disappointed with the market response and decided to develop a deeper understanding of the needs of this target audience. We were contracted to provide the client with insights on the journey and pain points of the key players in the agro-ecosystem.
An interview guide was developed for the customer discovery process. Many of the questions asked were open-ended and nonspecific about the business intelligence software solution. By letting the interviewees lead the conversation, they spoke more freely about their ideal solution.
Interviews were conducted with farm owners, managers, microbiologists, scientists and engineers.
The interview data was then synthesized into key categories:
Some key findings from the interviews fell into the themes of trust and technology:
The feedback from interviewees helped the client understand that there were concerns around the transparency they were trying to provide around data for farmers. Farmers were concerned about the ability of others using the same platform to glean insights into their specific competitive advantages. Farmers have their own formulas relative to the genetic mix of their product, the nutrients they provide, the environmental conditions and the use of antibiotics. The what, when and how of all of these factors collectively become a farmer’s “intellectual property” or “secret sauce” and in a competitive market with slim profit margins, this information is closely guarded. For business intelligent software to be adopted, it could not jeopardize competitors deciphering this highly protected information.
The farmers were frustrated with the current lack of flexibility and the redundancy of existing platforms. Data from other platforms used for lab results and etc. could not be readily integrated with the existing business intelligence platform. These findings as well as others led the client to explore new solutions that kept the farmers needs and concerns front and center, including a secure, customizable white label platform where business intelligence data could be tailored to the farmers needs.