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My thoughts on MobileTECH 2018

MobileTECH 2018 was a landmark event in the Cucumber calendar, and our team was excited to attend this specialised event in Rotorua late last month. The event has been running since 2013 and uniquely brings together representatives from the agricultural, horticultural and forestry sectors together to connect on technology that is influencing their industry.

Here at Cucumber, we’re passionate about these industries and see huge potential in the way technology will impact them in years to come. We had a stand at MobileTECH this year to discuss the challenges impacting organisations in the industry and how we can be on the journey to solving these for them.

With the theme of “Innovation through Smart Data”, the speakers at MobileTECH made it very apparent that this is no longer something that is coming, it’s already here.

Topics included the trending technologies artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain and internet of things (IoT), along with a number of real world case studies and panel discussions.

Below are some of my key insights from this year’s event and discussion: 

  • New Zealand is holding its own with innovative technology used in agriculture, however we are behind the world leaders Israel, Ireland and Australia. Industry collaboration with sharing of data and experiences needs to improve so we can continue to compete on the world stage.
  • Internationally, the trend of corporates investing in innovative start-ups continues unabated with many preferring this approach to innovation in lieu of internal R&D departments. NZ R&D spending is around 1% of GDP with the top countries spending 2 – 3% of GDP. This data suggests it may be time to up the ante to continue competing on the world stage, the number 8 wire approach will not always cut it.
  • Finding qualified engaged operational staff is a growing challenge in all sectors. Up-skilling of senior staff on new technology is a key challenge through lack of interest or motivation, with some feeling they don’t have the time to learn new applications and technologies.
  • Internet connectivity and infield communications are still a challenge for the rural sector despite telecommunication companies touting their far-reaching mobile and IoT networks. In reality, these networks are still largely at the limited availability pilot stage.
  • A big challenge faced by many in the primary industries is that there is a large number of applications for performing many tasks, however very few of these applications communicate with each other. They are contending with data that is in siloes, with no simple way to aggregate data to analyse, gain insight and make useful business decisions. In an ideal world data would flow freely between applications and systems.

So whilst there are still factors that impact progress, there is also huge opportunity. We’re excited to be on the cusp of this growth and be involved with putting New Zealand on the map. Thanks to the team at MobileTECH who did a great job in getting fantastic speakers including our own Ian Gray with our client Mr Apple (pictured) and generating some great discussion – we’ll be back next year!