Any precision specialist in the throes of a busy season can find themselves wishing they could be everywhere at once — especially if multiple farmers have repairs that can easily be addressed in 5-10 minutes.
Troubleshooting over the phone is often effective, but with the complexity of some precision equipment, farmers may have difficulty describing their issue and reluctance in servicing it themselves. A new solution called the Agrisync app aims at making remote support available for Smartphones or connected tablets.
The mobile app enables precision specialists and other ag advisors to hold real-time visual, field-level support discussions with farmers. By using mobile video chat technology that’s built in and runs through the cloud, the app connects farmers to their dealers or trusted advisors through an interface.
“There is a shortage of precision specialists to begin with, and they are usually running from fire to fire to put them out,” says Agrisync president Casey Niemann. “A lot of the time, they are resolving non-toolbox issues, meaning they don’t need a wrench. With the app, we’re hoping to help specialists scale their expertise so they can serve more farmers faster and for less cost.”
The app finished its private beta phase earlier this year and has set its full public launch date for Dec. 1. Currently, it’s being offered to service providers in two separate packages.
“For smaller, independent precision tech providers we have a month-to-month service for $30 per month,” says Niemann. “But the majority of our users are part of a team, and they use our team basic package for $500 per year per advisor. It comes with a customer service dashboard, service alerts and the ability to add multiple advisors to the team. On the farmer side, the app is completely free to use.”
Niemann expects that as more data management service, remote sensing and telematic technology become part of everyday agriculture, farmers may become overwhelmed and need more precision support than ever.
“When a tech goes out to a faraway farm for a fix that might only take a few minutes, everyone is frustrated,” says Niemann. “The farmer has to sit and wait, and the tech has to drop everything and spend the time and gas to get out to the farm. Often, the farmer needs less of a wrench and more of an expert set of eyes to see what he’s up against and help him through it.”
Other companies have developed machine support options for dealers, but Niemann says visual support from a trusted advisor is important to farmers trying to troubleshoot an issue.
“A lot of other solutions focus on machine analytics, which is great for all of us, but we’re more focused on the human element,” says Niemann. “By this I mean connecting an advisor to his customer remotely to share a much more personal session. In this way, the app complements some of the other services like Deere’s JDLink by giving them the added capability of human interaction.”
The app can be used by farmers to network with several different advisors simultaneously for any number of issues such as monitor troubleshooting, equipment optimization, interpreting maps, agronomy issues and even operating UAVs.
Niemann also feels that the capabilities of the Agrisync app could complement precision service plans dealerships are implementing. The app is free to farmers, including remote support via the app as part of a service plan could be a cost effective and efficient way to meet farmers’ needs. A ticketing system and rating feature also allows management to track issues and review client feedback.
“Precision managers can review how effective their staff was at solving the customer’s problem and follow up with them if needed,” says Niemann. “In the future, we’re also looking into an archiving feature, so techs can save and bank successful sessions for training purposes.”