More to the success of technology than the technology itself

Author: Iain Dalton (IfA) - February 5, 2018

There is no doubt the role and presence of new technology and digital infrastructure is increasing throughout the global dairy industry.

The technologies detailed throughout the 4D4F project will become increasingly common and they can bring great success to individual units but in the journey to increased productivity through use of remote sensors and digital systems there is a real danger that there could be many examples of expensive failure and wasted investment if care is not taken in the implementation.

In addition, the visibility of these failures may be limiting the overall adoption of these systems resulting in a slow rate of uptake and a wasted opportunity to increase our productivity and asset utilisation. The reasons for this is insightfully explored in the Nuffield Report 'Understanding why existing high-tech systems designed for the livestock industry are largely underutilized” written by Thomas Allison (Click here to read his report).

Amongst other influences, the need for effective business/man management must be central to any implementation. The conventions of good management must be followed to increase the likelihood of success.

  • A well communicated strategy for the business already exists with SMART targets.
  • Any investment in technology is aligned to this overall business strategy, with clear benefits/targets defined before implementation.
  • All stakeholders, including farm staff, understand the role of the technology and that it is a positive venture and the WIFM principle “what is in it for me” is fully explored allowing full ownership in the strategy.
  • All stakeholders able to demonstrably exhibit TRUST in the technology.
  •  All stakeholders receive appropriate training dependent upon their role and understand their contribution to the success of the technology.

The use of remote sensors and technological systems must work for the business not the business working for the technology. In the end of the implementation clear cost benefit must be achieved through its use.

The dairy industry is going through an unprecedented period of innovation with adoption of technology and digital infrastructures occurring and it is probably inevitable that the range of success is varied but through careful and thoughtful adoption of the tenets of good business /man management the clear majority of units investing in this area can achieve the desired targets and real productivity gains throughout the industry.