Every second, twelve Android devices are activated. In the last three months, Apple has sold 26 million iPhones. These are big numbers, especially when you look to the launch of these devices just a few short years ago. In fact when BlackBerry was Canada’s crown jewel they were leaders selling 10 million every three months. Today, selling that same number of devices has them struggling to keep up and stay alive. This onslaught of mobile uptake both on the farm and off of it means there are three things every farmer needs to be aware of.
1. Cameras Galore
You may remember a few short years ago, a debate about the camera lenses that were being put into cell phones. The grainy image it produced resulted in bans of cell phones in change rooms, daycares and anywhere a picture shouldn’t be taken. Today, phones can take high definition video from one of the two camera lenses, and can be uploaded to YouTube, Twitter & Facebook within seconds. It represents great opportunity for farmers interested in sharing stories from their farm, but also represents challenges. Farmers need to keep in mind that employees can easily snap photos of unflattering safety practices, or a motorist driving by can shoot a video of that animal that is unhealthy. Good or bad, the reality is that farmers now need to be aware of all of their surroundings.
2. Useful or Useless?
With more access to mobile information like websites, videos, pictures and tweets comes a need for a lesson in time management. These devices have incredible power to consolidate contacts, records, events, news, scores and more. For a farmer it can save time and money by bringing access to information almost anywhere. However, the idea of too much information means every user needs to be aware of the amount of time spent on their device. If having a smartphone means fewer tasks are getting accomplished or communication among family and employees is actually dropping, then it is time to set boundaries and train yourself to only access the information you need versus the information you think you need.
3. Technology’s Next Advances
There are approximately 6 billion mobile devices now active around the world. Not quite one for every person on the planet, but certainly in developed countries almost every person has some level of access to information while on the go whether it be with a standard cell phone, smartphone or tablet. Think about what that will mean for the future. Already publications are being downloaded to tablets instead of delivered in mailboxes. Television shows are being recorded to a PVR and watched at leisure while robot milkers are being monitored by a smartphone. Today’s farmer will need to stay up to date on technology advances, similar to how they stay up to date on production advances or consumer demands. When (not if) more information is required in production processes, or mobile monitoring – farmers will be ready and comfortable to adopt.
The bottom line, like all new technologies, is there are pros and cons. The positives do outweigh the negatives in that having a tablet or a smartphone allows you to digest information anywhere, at the same time as improving record keeping. However, farmers and others in the agriculture industry need to be aware of how they and the people around them use these tools to ensure everyone is performing to the best of their abilities. That way, we all benefit.