Product // Nov 11, 2020
From Unique to Ubiquitous: The Journey of a Farming Platform
The biggest transformation I ever underwent was when I was five years old. I returned (was forced to return, let’s be honest) from a stay at my grandparents’ home back to my parents. I had to face a reality more defined by rules, and one in which I couldn’t as easily demand something like a fancy dress party in the middle of the night.
Transitions are hard. Change is difficult to embrace, for kids and for adults. I had my first taste of change management in the transition from living with my grandparents (pic on the left), which had been a relatively free and doting time in my early life, to moving back in with my parents (pic on the right).
As an adult, I’ve spent my career helping organizations embrace a similar mindset. The shift from traditional thinking to a product-focused mindset that allows a product to scale with the size of its customer base necessitates a careful approach. The opportunity to leverage my technology background to influence the product landscape for farmers around the world, and to assist in some way in improving their productivity, is amazing.
I was brought up in India, where (according to Statista) 60% of the population works in the ag industry in some form. What bigger or more impactful industry to influence than agriculture, which touches the lives of every single person in the world!
Some of the rigorous thought that goes into enterprise-grade software and data products comes in handy in agriculture, as any big mistake or product downtime can - and occasionally does - have a drastic impact on farmers. This service disruption affects the bottom-line of any farmer and is especially disastrous for smallholder farmers.
A Unique User Base
When I started at The Climate Corporation in June of this year, I took some time to acclimate myself to the systems, thinking, and culture of Climate’s teams. One of the things I came across during my onboarding is a post for this very blog, from way back in 2018. The post by Karen Liang, my colleague in our Product organization, got me thinking about how far Climate and the Climate FieldView™ platform have come in that span. Understanding history helps you understand the present, after all.
In a few short years, our platform has scaled significantly - just this year we’re anticipating that we’ll end well beyond our target of 114 million subscribed acres. FieldView™ is currently available or in commercial trials in more than 20 countries around the world, far more broadly available than at the point at which Karen’s post first went live.
A global FieldView platform in more than 20 countries as of this year. What an opportunity!
What Climate faces today is not what the company faced five years - or even one year - ago. As the platform scales and the amount of data grows, we are taking time to be intentional about how we scale our own ability to support farmers in drawing insights from that data, and how we can reliably manage everything - the platform agreements, the imagery, and the global customer base - as effectively as we once did.
Product and Services
My role here at Climate is an incredible opportunity to bridge the narrowing gap between the tech sector and the agriculture industry. We’re not only exchanging information on our platform, we’re exchanging ways of thinking that will drive that tighter connection that advances agtech.
Saas, Daas, and Professional Services are well-understood lines of business in the tech sector, but these are terms that could be better defined within the digital ag industry.
As it relates to the ways we drive value for FieldView customers and Climate partners, Software as a Service (SaaS) refers to simple, reliable, intuitive, customer-facing tools that use data acquisition and visualization features to help engage farmers. The SaaS line allows them to measure product performance and organize and share data.
Data as a Service (DaaS) represents the platform itself and the ways in which we organize our data, and deliver information at global scale to power insights for farmers, dealers and our partners at Bayer Crop Science.
Our Professional Services (PS) line of business emphasizes solutions tailored to individual conditions within a field, or even in some cases within a section of a field. Delivering further advanced insights to growers through the use of analytics and machine learning is critical to enabling truly cross-industry tailored solutions that focus on farm outcomes rather than input sales. PS use cases influence the attributes we support in our SaaS and Daas lines of business; as we look at advanced use cases like our Seed Advisor program, we’re also building on SaaS and DaaS line insights and infrastructure.
While we define SaaS, Daas, and PS separately, the critical thing to highlight is that these three pillars are all interrelated, with our product in the cab or in the office serving as the glue that brings it all together. Everything we do is in service of customer-facing value, from our software to our recommendations to our data infrastructure.
User experience is critical as we look at our offering for farmers and dealers, to make it seamless with farming workflows and to ease their lives. It all starts with understanding and addressing customer pain points. This is what creates value for our customers and defines our business line strategy.
I can’t wait to help further define these lines, unify them through our product, and keep delivering more value to customers through our innovation. The best way I can help will be to listen: to our teams, to our customers, to our partners. I’m really excited to be a part of helping grow this team into its next phase.
Ranjeeta Singh is the Chief Product Officer (CPO) at The Climate Corporation where she is responsible for driving the Product Strategy and Roadmap for Digital Farming. Ranjeeta brings more than two decades of background in hardware, software and services space to this perfect intersection of IOT, AI and Data Science to make a difference in the lives of farmers and other players in the Agriculture value chain.