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The 1990s Dot Com Bust and Ag Data Management

Ten Minute Tech

Could there be some similarity between the tech stock boom and bust, and agriculture's new data management craze?

Published on: April 9, 2013

Almost without fail at each of the meetings I attended this winter there was at least the mention of data management.  Data management has become the new buzz word in our industry. 

We have companies and individuals who are aggressively pursuing strategies to collect data from our field operations.  The problem I see in many of these strategies is that there is a predominant focus on collection with very little thought given to the utilization of the data.

I think most who are involved are convinced that they will corner the market by first locking up the collection process with a farmer and worrying about what to do with the data later. 

This is a visionless belief that relies upon getting the data to a central location and spontaneously discovering answers which magically present themselves in the aggregated data. 

I find these thought processes to be similar to the approach used by stock market investors in the latter half of the 1990s.  Everyone wanted to own a piece of the new frontier, which in the latter 1990s, was the internet. Any company who had a cyber-presence or a business plan that dealt with the internet was golden. Investors flocked to them even though many of these companies struggled to prove they could make money via the web. 

Investors were so enamored with the technology they forgot what really makes businesses solid -- making money.  The herd mentality took over and everyone was after the next big IPO. 

Unfortunately, after a short period of astronomical growth, the sector tanked as investors recognized the holes in the business plans. Not all of the companies had flawed approaches. Amazon, for example, had a marketable plan but their share price tanked along with the others and investors were slow to return to this sector after the bubble burst. 

I see the same thing happening with data management. We currently have the herd mentality going toward data management in our industry. Due to the lack of plans on how to garner the value of the data, I fear the bubble will burst in a couple years and farmers will think data management is a waste of time and resources.

This will set us back several years as we then have to change their thinking by proving the huge value of doing data management and analysis properly.