Editor's Note: Todd Janzen, attorney at Janzen Agricultural Law in Indianapolis, grew up on a Kansas grain and livestock farm and now practices law at the intersection of ag and technology. Todd is chair of the American Bar Association’s Agricultural Management Committee and authors a blog addressing legal issues facing agriculture. You can see more posts from Todd at JanzenAgLaw.com.
Janzen Ag Law recently converted from Windows laptops to Apple MacBooks. I could write a book about the changes moving from Microsoft’s Windows to Apple’s OS, but one thing is the same — both Microsoft and Apple are now insistent on forcing users to use their cloud platforms. Windows embeds its cloud, “OneDrive” into everything. Apple’s mandatory sentencing to iCloud is not much better. Avoiding these cloud servers takes time and effort. As a result, I cannot tell you how many times I have saved a document into a cloud drive when that was not my intent. Why make the user experience more difficult?
I have nothing against “the cloud.” I know that is the way we are headed. When choosing a law practice management software, our firm chose Clio, a cloud-based platform. It has some flaws, but overall it works pretty well. Most importantly, it allows us to maintain a virtual office even when out of the office. Using the cloud in our daily practice has made us much more efficient.
But I chose Clio’s cloud. Microsoft and Apple are choosing their clouds for me. When you buy an Office 365 subscription, you get OneDrive. Save any document and Microsoft first tells you to save in OneDrive. You have to tell Microsoft no, then proceed with saving the document where you want it.
Likewise, when I purchased my Apple iPad, I quickly learned that it lacked the on-board memory to function without using Apple’s iCloud. If I wanted to save something, I had to use Apple’s iCloud (and likely pay to upgrade to the larger iCloud out of necessity too).
There’s a lesson in my rant about the cloud for ag technology providers. Don’t force farmers to use your cloud by bundling it to your product, or even worse, by automatically saving ag data to your cloud without farmers knowing that is what is happening. If you do use a cloud with your product, make it easy for farmers to transfer to the platform they want to use, and communicate clearly how that works.
Build a great platform and let farmers come to you. Using a cloud platform should be a choice, not an arranged marriage.