This past week, I had the opportunity to participate in an interview for a research project the Harvard Business School is conducting on the delivery of precision farming products and the progression of dealer networks.

During the course of the hour-long discussion, I shared some perspective on the transition many dealers are making from a product-based business to one rooted in service and support. Sharing some analysis from our most recent benchmark study (full coverage to appear in our Summer print issue), dealers are trending toward diversified delivery of precision platforms, to offer customers a more customized and comprehensive solution.

But the Harvard researchers were particularly interested in how the Internet of Things (IoT) is impacting agriculture. One of the questions asked during the discussion was “How are dealers helping farmers understand the IoT capabilities?”

This is certainly a challenging transition dealers are being asked to make, in particular those more accustomed to an equipment-based business model. Adoption of tools including remote sensors, wireless data transfer and agricultural drones are progressing and dealers are tasked with connecting the virtual dots between these technologies.

It’s easy to view IoT as an abstract concept, but precision dealers don’t have this luxury. Understanding and then explaining the practical value of data-driven tools to customers is increasingly essential.

Talking with a precision ag manager of a multi-store dealership recently, I asked him to define what role IoT plays in their business plan. He paused for a few moments and said, “That’s not the first time I’ve been asked that question and I know it won’t be the last. I still don’t have an answer, but if we don’t figure one out soon, we’re in trouble.”

How are you defining the Internet of Things in your precision business? Share you thoughts with me at or call me at 262-777-2441.