Agriculture has experienced a significant evolution in the last 50 years. From the Green Revolution driven by consumerism, we've entered a new era prioritizing connectivity, data, and intelligence. This digital transformation of agriculture promises process transparency, improved yields, resource optimization, sustainability, and enhanced resilience to climate change.
The Rise of Point Solutions
The digital transformation of agriculture started with point solutions. According to PCMag, “Point solution is defined as a tool designed to address a specific problem without considering related issues. These solutions are popular to quickly resolve a specific challenge or implement a new service”. It is often best suited for small businesses.
For instance, a point solution may be used to digitize farm operations. However, unlike integrated platforms developed for agriculture, these fall short of delivering comprehensive agri-intelligence. While effective in targeted problem-solving, it may lack the holistic approach that integrated platforms provide, enhancing data silos, limiting the depth of insights and overall efficiency in the broader agricultural context.
Over the last decade, the agricultural technology sector has witnessed a significant surge in point solutions. Driven by its potential, total investments in this sector touched $10.6 billion, for 2022, and the global digital agriculture market is projected to reach $29.8 billion by 2027.
The Limitations of Point Solutions
While point solutions hold potential, it is vital to recognize their inherent limitations.
- Overwhelming Choice:
- Scalability Across Regions:
Point solutions are tailored to address today's region-specific and/or crop value chain challenges. These are not adaptable across different regions and use cases, making scaling a real challenge. To stay ahead, stakeholders need to continuously seek new alternatives, adding complexity to the selection process.
- Fragmented Approach:
Agriculture is an extremely interconnected value chain that cannot be managed efficiently by highly fragmented point solutions. Challenges in agriculture evolve from basic digitization and advance towards more sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) requirements. Relying on fragmented point solutions leads to inefficiencies in development, change management, deployment and scaling. These solutions lack clean, contextualized data pipelines crucial for AI/ML solutions, demanding significant efforts and investments in cleaning and contextualizing data, thereby hampering the speed of developing and deploying predictive intelligence.
- Integration Hurdles:
Point solutions address specific agricultural challenges. It often results in isolated piecemeal outcomes that lack a cohesive toolkit for the highly interconnected agriculture value chain. As enterprises have used, developed, or acquired diverse solutions, integrating systems and data is a complex task involving escalated cost overheads to maintain and manage. It is precisely here that point solutions buckle and fail.
- Lack of Holistic View:
A holistic view of a challenge is absent when working with point solutions. There is no interconnected approach, no understanding of the bigger picture, forget about thinking outside the box, the box itself disappears. This leads to operational inefficiencies as comprehensive insights considering the entirety of a business are missing.
- Management Complexity:
As the number of solutions increases, a requirement around managing them emerges. This involves extra costs beyond the explicit cost of the solution, extended turnaround times and increased resource allocation. Each point solution caters to unique functional or process-specific use cases. If you take this route, soon, you will have isolated silos within different business divisions or regions. The result - operational inefficiencies and technology sprawl.
- Interoperability & Data Loss:
Point solutions often lack interoperability, leading to difficulties integrating data from various tools and resulting in a fragmented view of farm operations. The absence of templatization adds to the challenge of adapting these solutions to diverse farm needs during expansion, requiring additional time and effort. Importantly, their limited long-term suitability raises concerns about data loss, as these may struggle to manage and transfer data over time effectively.
- Data is not democratized:
Data is often compartmentalized, preventing businesses from providing real-time data access to their employees at all levels. This siloed approach creates barriers between teams, hampers collaboration, and hinders innovation, productivity and decision-making. The pronounced mismatch between production and supply-demand dynamics is an evident illustration of this challenge. The downstream business processes in seed and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies have yet to undergo digital transformation, limiting their potential for growth and efficiency. Such a transformation using point solutions cannot effectively use the abundant data reservoir obtained in the first mile.
The agri -industry has been investing substantial resources, both in terms of time and money, to develop, acquire, integrate, and combine these solutions to address complex challenges using technology.
Advance agriculture from point solutions to integrated platforms
Integrated cloud agriculture platforms can help you combine the power of farm & agri-data, process optimization and decision support, all at one place.
It is time for agricultural technology companies to drive a shift - A transition from deploying point solutions addressing specific use cases, to a long-term and comprehensive perspective of agri-operations & business performance.
Agribusinesses, like yours, can greatly benefit by deploying an open ecosystem platform catering to the needs of diverse stakeholders within the agricultural ecosystem.
One of the biggest advantages of truly integrated solutions is access to a comprehensive suite of solutions that solve multiple use cases and accelerate digital transformation. And more importantly, allow your digital and technology teams to focus on higher-value projects and reduce time-to-value for innovations. Instead of juggling between various vendors to address different issues, you can simply turn to a single partner to efficiently resolve your challenges.
And when the inevitable hiccups occur, much like death and taxes, there's no more room for a blame game – it is all about working together to find solutions.
Difference between Point & Integrated Solutions
A critical comparison between Point Solutions and Integrated Platforms in agriculture reveals distinct advantages and limitations. The following pointers aim to assist stakeholders in making well-informed decisions.
|Point Solutions address specific challenges, need separate integration, lack a holistic view, are cost-ineffective without economies of scale, and increase
|Integrated platforms consolidate diverse solutions into a platform. provide a holistic view. streamline operations, and enhance costs and efficiency with a single maintenance team.
|These are cost-effective and suitable for small agricultural businesses but struggle with limited automation and data collection. The collected data can't be analyzed at scale by Al/ML solutions, as it is
unstructured data and in silos.
These being highly scalable are ideal for large businesses, They leverage cutting-edge technolo-gies and automate data collection. As data collected is structured, AV/ML solutions can analyze them
|As it lacks adaptability across regions and use cases, users must continuously seek alternatives, increasing the complexity and technology sprawl.
|Being seamlessly sealable for agricultural geographic
expansion, it enables effortless transfer and application of knowledge across geographies
The case for integrated platform in agriculture
In the ever-evolving landscape of modern agriculture, the need for an integrated platform is more crucial than ever to manage vast global operations efficiently. Picture a scenario where a company with operations worldwide has thousands of farms generating diverse input data through technologies like drones. These offer insights into crop growth, soil moisture, nutrient uptake, and more. To harness the true potential of this data for scalable predictions, seamless integration is essential. While custom in-house development is an option, it often proves to be time-consuming and resource-inefficient.
The core strength of an integrated platform lies in its ability to pull data from diverse sources, fostering interoperability and unifying information into a single data warehouse. This integration is instrumental in better utilizing data for AI/ML enabled intelligence and disseminating decision-making inputs/intelligence. For instance, connecting data on disease monitoring, crop development, and weather stations can enable accurate predictions and provide alerts about area-wide disease and pest outbreaks.
Despite the surge in open innovation and collaborative efforts, a noticeable gap persists in the tools for capturing, sharing, and analyzing data coherently within the agri-business divisions. This challenge persists, even when solutions are developed in-house, impeding the constructive utilization of collective intelligence. For global teams, obtaining a single overview of operations across regions remains daunting. Consequently, substantial time and human effort are still required to address such everyday issues.
Thus, one of the critical challenges facing the agri-industry is the effective and efficient management of the myriad farm management solutions and advisory data points, both on and off the field. Integrating data from various tools and apps becomes paramount in overcoming this obstacle. The agtech sector needs an integrated platform that empowers customers by facilitating the seamless integration of existing solutions and replacing the fragmented approach with a unified ecosystem platform. This has the potential to enable organizations to utilize the expertise they gain in one geographical area across their entire spectrum of operations.
Moreover, the contemporary agricultural landscape demands agri-intelligence for tasks such as analyzing market demand, forecasting prices, determining optimal sowing and harvesting times, exploring soil health, monitoring input usage, providing weather advisories, and more. Some challenges gradually evolve from digitization to advanced agri-intelligence powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning models. An efficient integrated platform must encompass these capabilities comprehensively across different use cases, enabling organizations to progress in their digitization journey effortlessly.
In essence, the integrated platform becomes central to modern agriculture, streamlining operations, enhancing data utilization, and propelling agri-industry towards a more sustainable and profitable future. Such a collaborative approach ensures a unified front, maximizing the potential of collective data-driven intelligence for the entire ecosystem.
Explore Cropin Cloud - Our intelligent integrated agriculture platform
At Cropin, we embarked on our journey in 2010 with a clear vision: to digitize farms and provide real-time access to data, addressing the challenges faced by the agricultural sector at that time. As the industry progressed, so did we, offering multiple point solutions like Cropin Grow, Cropin Connect, and Cropin Trace.
Recognizing the growing need to leverage the collected data, we introduced the Cropin Data Hub—a data management layer that empowers you to integrate additional data sources, whether they're from applications you've built, acquired, or used over the years, IoT devices, remote data pipelines viz. satellite or weather stations.
Understanding the non-stop nature of agriculture, where crops are constantly growing, we realized the need to enhance risk mitigation, especially with the looming threat of climate change. Enter Cropin Intelligence—a layer dedicated to predictive intelligence and forecasting capabilities.
Today, all these point solutions seamlessly converge into the comprehensive Cropin Cloud platform - the world's first open ecosystem cloud platform custom-built to solve for the agriculture industry. Say goodbye to the 'Waste in, waste out' paradigm—we're here to help you do more. Our platform goes beyond. By allowing integration with third-party solutions,
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
An integrated platform for agriculture seamlessly collects data i.e., digitizes farms; links solutions; and facilitates data exchange to derive intelligence.
Point solutions may be suitable for small family-run businesses, but when it comes to larger organizations, agricultural ecosystems, or communities of farmers, the integrated platform emerges as the winner.
Here are some considerations when deciding whether a point solution or holistic approach is more beneficial for your organization:
|Number of existing technologies
As businesses continue to add more applications and systems, leaders must assess their tech stacks and weigh the benefits of adding yet another solution.
|ROI of either option
While point solutions are generally more affordable and require less upfront costs, integrated platforms help reduce costs and IT resources. So, weigh your options accordingly.
|Time needed to implement and maintain
While point solutions are much easier and faster to get up and running, consider how much time and resources might be needed to support the solution in the long term.
|Upgrades and support required in the future
Where will the organization be in a few years? Will the IT team still be able to leverage the solution to achieve future goals or will significant work be needed?
Undoubtedly ROI is better with an integrated platform for large businesses. However, point solutions are cost-effective for small businesses.