In my experience, one of the most ambiguous consumer labels is “user-friendly.” This is especially true of technology, when companies promise technical bliss is only a download, install or mouse click away.

Sometimes, it’s just that simple. (I can appreciate why iPhones don’t come with a bulky manual). But often, a little more time and patience is needed to reach an outcome.

Precision specialists know all about keeping their composure, even under the most mundane circumstances, as well as troubleshooting the impossible. But with the goal of increasing customer adoption, it’s understandable if sometimes dealers feel like they are merely breaking even.

One specialist puts it in perspective, “Like everyone, I have those frustrating days, and I take a breath and remind myself that precision farming is a marathon — not a race.”

With the rapid evolution of technology, it’s not always easy to catch your breath. However, a time may be coming when the precision industry takes stock of where it is and where it needs to go, says Ken Zuckerberg, senior analyst, farm inputs with Rabobank.

He foresees a “day of reckoning” where standardization and streamlining reshape and define digital agriculture. One of the major adoption hurdles is the variety of platforms and operating systems different companies use, which Zuckerberg says can create confusion for end users.

Getting companies to all collaborate on a standard operating system might be a tough sell. However, Zuckerberg says there is a successful, profitable business model precision farming can emulate — software for free, premium support for a fee.

He points to Google and Facebook as free platforms that were launched, promoted and educated consumers on value. “They allow users to experiment and customize their experience for what matters to them, and at that point, those platforms became powerful.”

“This idea of selling software to help produce unproven results to farmers that’s undergoing 4 years of pressure on the row-crop cycle, is not a great idea.”

Zuckerberg suggests that providing free software would present lower risk and increased willingness by customers to test the digital ag waters, rather than diving in and potentially drowning.

The back-end service is where retailers can capitalize. “Selling higher value adds insights, analysis and actionable recommendations,” is where the opportunity will be, Zuckerberg says.

Read more in a new report, Bungle in the Ag Tech Jungle – Cracking the Code on Precision Farming and Digital Agriculture, from Zuckerberg and the RaboResearch Food & Ag group