With the vast majority of the Primary Industry sector in Australia spanning a 100+ year history, it is not unexpected that many of these organisations currently find themselves in a complex situation where legacy applications and historical ways of working have created barriers to modernisation.
The uptake of new and emerging technologies is critical for ongoing growth and innovation within primary industries. However, the challenge that comes with continuously adopting new technology over the years, is the resulting mix of legacy and modern applications. If not managed well, these systems can quickly become disjointed and lack interoperability/interconnectedness.
What is stopping organisations from modernising/ undergoing digital transformation?
As a business leader, it can be natural to focus on increasing revenue, company growth, and new lines of business & products while being wary of additional technology costs which often leaves little time for understanding the value of a digital transformation. The focus on individual business functions can cloud the impact of efficiencies achieved when connecting disjointed systems across the entire organisations digital ecosystem. Internal team sizes may be restricted, capacity and capabilities may be limited and this highlights a gap in technological skillset in order to achieve the desired business outcomes. Another key barrier is often change management, business leaders may see the value in undergoing transformation initiatives, however, gaining organisational endorsement is just as important. It’s important to factor in aspects of people, processes and tools.
Complexity within primary industries can be a major barrier to moving forward with transformation efforts due to complex digital ecosystems including legacy systems that have been around for a long time, decades of enhancements and newer cloud natives services. The added challenge of interacting with, and building on, existing code bases raises uncertainties and risks around how to successfully integrate with existing business systems and set up secure, scalable solutions for the future
Streamlining the digital ecosystem
Achieving interconnectedness across business systems allows for the consolidation and integration of data available across the organisation. The time, effort and costs of manual processes are reduced as a result of streamlining work and efficiencies are created from data management having one source of truth within the systems. When it comes to the people you have working on bringing systems together across an organisation it is important to ensure availability of dedicated internal resources and trusted partners with the right skillsets who understand the complexity of legacy applications, have required domain or technical knowledge and are able to add value in the shortest amount of time through secure, scalable software development practices. This is quite often where a cross functional hybrid team model can add value with the right skills and capacity to acceleration delivery and functional outcomes for the business.
Case Study: Farming for the future
Redefining what it looks like to go back to basics
In the tech space we talk a lot about our own sector and those that listeners can easily relate to, such as financial services, retail and healthcare. And it’s not until something big happens that technology talk zeros in on primary industries, but why is that? With a large agriculture industry in NSW, mining and manufacturing thriving in WA, there doesn’t appear to be any obvious gap where IT could help those industries at the core of our internal supply chains, busy generating economic stability.
But if you’ve been watching (or are in) this industry over the last five years or so you’ll know that the context of the market is what has generated significant investments into the technology in this space. Here are four big changes we’ve seen and how they’ve resulted in tech innovation:
Consumers want to know you’re telling the truth and buyers want to monitor stock movements. With an abundance of products both local and imported at the touch of a button, products that touted themselves as ‘natural’ or ‘locally sourced’ have had to prove it. And this hasn’t been a requirement for just food producers, but everyone from vintners to forest owners have been linking up their systems to map the different stages of their production journey from order to cash for consumer transparency.
One of the unintended benefits of this process (aside from renewed market engagement and trust) has been that many suppliers have been made aware of production wastage and efficiencies. Supply chains have also become more reliable and global subsidiaries more accountable.
With the dialogue on global warming becoming normal and the pandemic highlighting our dependence on imports, there is a determined effort to be sustainable. While many funding opportunities have opened up for manufacturers who can process waste materials, and new markets have been created by companies using sustainability metrics, the big shift has been in measuring the impact. How can we benchmark our use of recycled materials in the finished product? How would we equate the change in our irrigation system to the impact on local drought efforts? IOT soil testers, renewable energy sources, weigh machines and smart feeders have all played a part in putting data at the heart of change.
Felt the most by manufacturing, particularly in the defence industry, evening out the dynamic of supply and demand has never been so pertinent to everyday life. Where we may have raw materials, they are primed for export and finished parts are imported in. We saw a growth in sourcing new supply partners who operated on different shipping routes and the creation of new manufacturing methods and plants such as injection moulding. Recipes changed, designs were altered, export quantities shifted all of which gave additional control.
The most obvious of the four, automation has grown under the guise of increased reliability and human value-add. Although automated plants and processes do offer this, they also offer significant increases to your bottom line for the investment, expanding capabilities in the out-of-office hours and providing transparency with little modification. With scaled operations and technology innovation in areas such as robotic process automation, a supplier can gain market advantage, expand to new territories and future-proof their business. The human engagement for these companies comes through ensuring the service, design and analysis of these systems – which will inevitably need upgrading!
How can these changes affect you?
Whether you’re a big supplier or a small local provider, there are two main takeaways:
1) the environment you operate in has changed, and
2) The interconnectedness and accessibility of your systems and data are crucial to success.
The time, effort and costs of manual processes are reduced as a result of streamlining technology, and efficiencies are created from though more interconnected digital ecosystems.
With 40+ years of experience and development of mission critical systems with customers such as Fonterra and DB Cargo, we are no strangers to the complexity of legacy systems. At Jade, we know not every problem can be solved with an off the shelf solution which is why we specialise in evolving custom core systems to add value whilst keeping your unique way of working. If this is you, and you are wanting to move forward with your business strategy by streamlining technology within your organisation, let’s talk.