Where will the Internet of Things get its first big foothold in the business world?
A number of companies are already rolling out smart thermostats and lighting systems to reduce energy consumption and utility bills in commercial buildings. Others want to instrument aircraft engines and trains to save fuel and monitor equipment wear and tear.
How about agriculture? Modern farms can sprawl for hundreds of acres. Rising prices of fertilizer and electricity, combined with regulations limiting irrigation are placing increasing demands on farmers to more precisely utilize their resources. Reducing spoilage and food waste will require both better in-field monitoring as well as better monitoring and management within the field-to-shelf supply chain. It is a world where deadline pressures, a lack of information and conquering the challenges of time and distance confront individuals on a daily basis.
Stacey Higganbotham recently canvassed the space, pointing out how a vineyard in Spain reduced fertilizers by 20 percent and how organic greenhouses in California can send farmers a warning when temperatures begin to spike.
It’s also an intriguing customer base. When most people think of farms, they think of individual family farmers driving tractors amid a pastoral setting. In reality, agriculture has been a leader for years in automation—many industrial farms rely on harvesters guided by GPS. It is also an industry starving for more data. Fluctuations in rainfall or market prices can cause profits to quickly rise or plummet. Obtaining accurate, ongoing data on operations has historically also been a challenge. Unlike cars or microprocessors, you can’t mass produce identical tomatoes. Companies like CleanGrow and Solum have begun to bring Big Data to the field with tools that can dynamically calibrate moisture and other metrics.