Getting into the mobile mindset

If you’re not sure what your smartphone can do, a 14-year-old can help

Tech expert Peter Gredig recommends re-examining the power of your mobile device, as it may be one of the most valuable tools you own.

“For the money, that $500 phone that you carry in your pocket probably has the highest rate of return of anything you have on the farm,” said Gredig, a partner in AgNition, a company that specializes in emerging technologies and mobile applications.

“I think the biggest challenge is to try and understand all of the things your phone can do. Most of us are using eight, 10, or 12 per cent of what our phones can actually do,” Gredig told Farm Credit Canada’s Ag Outlook here Feb. 7.

Gredig says being open minded and willing to try is the first step in harnessing the value that lies in today’s tech devices.

“Attitude is everything. It is really about identifying what the problems are that you are trying to solve and then looking for the technology to solve it,” he said.

He suggests looking to the younger generation for inspiration when exploring your device.

“If there is a 14-year-old kid or grandkid in the family, they are the experts and they can teach us. When you go to buy a phone, I really advocate that you buy them the exact same one,” said Gredig. “They are amazing on these things.”

He pointed out a number of basic mobile device features go underutilized on today’s farms and explained that producers could specifically benefit from transitioning from phone calls to video calling.

“Something breaks in the field on the cultivator or you have an employee who is encountering something, what do we do? — we call,” he said. “A 14-year-old kid doesn’t call. They Facetime or Skype, where you can hear and see and it’s free. So why aren’t we using this? Why aren’t we doing that with our mechanics, agronomist, veterinarians?”

Try non-ag apps

When exploring the app world, Gredig advises keeping in mind that there are a number that would be useful on the farm that aren’t ag specific.

“A lot of the technologies that will work for us were not designed for us. I have an app that I use called Sign Easy, and it is a big deal for me when I found it. Every time I sell grain, the elevator sends me an email with a PDF file. Before, I would go home, print off the PDF, sign it, scan it and email it back,” said Gredig. “Now I have this Sign Easy app and I can do all of that on my phone in 15 seconds.”

He also suggests looking at Field Manager Pro, which allows you to do field record-keeping, and Ag Expert for tracking spending.

“If you are in Canadian Tire and you make a purchase, you can take a picture of the receipt and it will go to your cloud and to your desktop. No more spending time in the office doing those tasks,” said Gredig.

Data collection

Gredig cautions producers of getting involved in too many devices and creating a data avalanche.

“I won’t discourage you from gathering data but I would say, know why you are collecting it and make sure there is a benefit.”

He warns of getting caught up in the hype of a product without finding real value in what it provides.

“It isn’t about buying something that is cool. It is more about identifying problems and finding what can help solve them,” said Gredig. “It is easy to get caught up in the hype. But, we need to be thinking about where the value is.”

About the author

Reporter

Jennifer Paige is a reporter centred in southwestern Manitoba. She previously wrote for the agriculture-based magazine publisher, Issues Ink and was the sole-reporter at the Minnedosa Tribune for two years prior to joining the Manitoba Co-operator.

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