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Where farming leads others will follow

Farming is perhaps the oldest profession in the world. So it might come as a surprise to some that the sector is also providing a template for the next industrial revolution.

It’s all about productivity, how much input is required to produce a certain level of output. Every industry will be able to measure its own productivity, but to do so necessitates putting a monetary value on all units of input and output. This task is easier for companies involved in manufacturing than those providing a service, as how can you objectively measure the quality of a service in monetary terms?

Productivity is at the core of wealth creation. With no increase in productivity there can be no sustainable increase in wages, and if that happens at a national or international level economic growth stagnates. Much has been made of the UK’s relative lack of progress when it comes to improved productivity, and it is often quoted that it takes a British worker five days to produce the same level of output as his or her French or German counterpart would achieve in four.

So where does farming come into the picture? The answer lies in examining the way in which those involved in food production have had to meet the unique challenges they face. Farming was traditionally a highly labour intensive industry, but as the willingness of people to work on the land declined with the growth in jobs that did not involve getting cold and wet, alternatives had to be found. The solution was mechanisation, the introduction of giant machines to replace the jobs done by people. The UK farming industry now produces 30% more than in 1973 with half the number of employees. But the machines that have made this possible, such as combine harvesters, which undertake simple repetitive tasks very efficiently. The challenge now is finding new methods to further improve productivity and the answer lies in ‘artificial intelligence’, in other words machines that ‘think’. To stay with the farming example, labour is still essential for tasks which require an element of judgement. The next advancement in farming technology will be the introduction of machines that will ‘decide’ whether an individual fruit is ready for harvest or the exact combination of soil nutrients for individual fields and complete the task with no human intervention. These are just two examples of ‘artificial intelligence’ and they are coming to a place near you.

Across all industries labour is but one unit of input, land and capital are others, but it is often the most expensive and most difficult to manage and therefore becomes vulnerable as the introduction of ‘artificial intelligence’ gathers pace. As the need to improve productivity combines with rapid advances in technology, all businesses will have no alternative but to make the investment necessary. The implications for society are huge but for any business involved in satisfying this need there might be a rich harvest ahead.

Andy MilsomAndy Milson, Head of Partner Training & Development at BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions

Andy is an experienced sales and finance professional with over 25 years’ experience in sales aid leasing. Andy is widely recognised as an expert in business finance and has in recent years focused his attention on developing partner sales teams develop an understanding of how businesses secure project financing. His training programme – Finance Unlocked – is a highly rated customisable course and is offered at no cost to partners.

If you’re interested in helping your sales team overcome finance-related hurdles during the selling cycle, please get in touch with Andy on 07966 114 243 or email here.

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