In this Partner spotlight we highlight our 2016 Microsoft Partner Award for Excellence in Regional Area Customers Award - Advance Computing for their amazing work in Rural Victoria.
Chris Motton has spent the majority of his career as an IT specialist, living and working in Kyabram – a rich farming region 200 kilometers north of Melbourne. In his role as Sales and Services Director at Microsoft Partner, Advance Computing, Chris has traditionally focused on leading transformation projects in the financial and professional services sectors.
In recent times, Advance Computing has been increasingly helping Kyabram’s local farming and agriculture businesses improve processes with new technologies. Applying his learnings from other sectors, Chris is helping organisations within his very own local community stand out in an increasingly competitive marketplace, by improving the quality and distribution of some of Victoria’s most important resources. “As technology plays a more critical role in agriculture, it’s becoming essential to farmers’ competitiveness and the future of Australia’s fresh produce,” Chris argues.
With unique projects underway at tomato plant Kagome, apple and pear farm Greenwood Orchards, and more recently, with water-trading co-op at the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District, we sat down with Chris to discuss the big impact Advance Computing is having on farming in rural Victoria.
The impact of Kagome’s IoT solution has been huge, with the tomato farmer empowered to better focus resources on improving and expanding the products delivered to Australia’s growing population.
There’s been a 500 per cent return on investment in the first season alone, and what was once 500 calls back and forth between individuals to coordinate and track a batch of raw product is now down to 40 or 50.
Chris and his team built a smartphone application the surrounding populous could download to collect masses of data on fruit flies they were seeing in their backyards.
“The application linked to Azure in the backend using data collated to generate insights that was shared with farmers who could adequately prepare and protect their crops in the region,” said Chris.
Currently, the solution requires locals to self-check traps, count flies and upload what they see, but in the future, Chris envisions using Cortana image recognition to analyse images and count the pests automatically - a relief to farmers and local citizens alike.
Using Visual Studio, Advance Computing created a water trading platform running on Azure to deliver the capabilities needed, with conversations now underway about tapping into the potential of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
“Advance Computing is looking into machine learning that could soon advise customers on opportunities, i.e. when a specific volume goes on offer at a good price, a farmer will receive a direct notification to purchase,” said Chris.
The key takeaway and secret sauce is transferring years of knowledge from other sectors, Advance Computing has done this to create real, innovative solutions to challenges in the agricultural industry that businesses of all types are looking to address.