Futurist warns of ‘shiny toy syndrome’ and importance of customers
a long time, it has been said there isn’t enough venture capital flowing through to ag tech. That has changed.
— Paul Higgins
WHEN you are thinking about the future of your farming business, don’t become a victim of “shiny-toy syndrome”. That’s the message from futurist Paul Higgins, during day two of the 2019 Australian Summer Grains Conference, held on the Gold Coast this week.
The best way for the agriculture industry to prepare for evolving market trends was to start thinking about their “customers and their customer’s customers”.
“I see time and time again people say ‘I have this shiny new bit of stuff, I can go and do this thing, so I am going to do it’,” he said. Before investing in new products he encouraged farmers to ask: “can this new bit of technology do something for my customer?” Mr Higgins predicted future consumers to be demanding, and information hungry. Trends from growing markets in Japan and South Korea indicated consumers wanted more information about their food, and how it was produced, he said. Consumers were being “trained” to expect the highest level of service.
He asked the room if any of the participants had children, and how their kids reacted when Netflix buffered for more than a couple seconds.
“They whine,” he said. “That’s the sort of expectations that are being built. I am not saying that you can rise completely to that level, but customer expectations are rising again and again.” Most future predications for primary producers were bright.
“The generalised story that is being told around agriculture is that in the future there will be more people with more money,” he said.
“People with more money eat more animal protein – and there is no more land and no more water. So, you are in the best possible business - there is huge growing demand and no more supply. All of you will be multi-millionaires in the years ahead.” He then asked all the farmers in the room if they agreed that would be the case. As no one raised their hands, Mr Higgins cautioned industry members to not rely on a single vision of the future. He said it was more possible that farming would remain a tough business, but agreed future growth was likely. He also warned farmers to treat new technology on the market with cautious optimism. “For a long time, it has been said there isn’t enough venture capital flowing through to ag tech,” he said. “That has changed.
“A word of caution on that, it has changed and that means you will have far more products and systems in the workplace that will fall over. Because venture capital investors (focus on investments) that are far more risky.” More coverage of the conference in next week’s edition.
FORWARD THINKING: Futurist Paul Higgins talking about evolving markets and how to prepare for them at the 2019 Australian Summer Grains Conference.