EY and Microsoft create innovative digital solutions for agribusiness

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Rob Dongoski

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Partner, Global Agribusiness Leader at EY

I’m thrilled that the EY agribusiness team has extended our alliance with @Microsoft to continue to develop innovative solutions for our agribusiness clients. @Egbert Schröer, @Gregory Cudahy and I announced the relationship and demonstrated the capabilities of Microsoft’s FarmBeats technology at #ChicagoIdeas Week last month. These capabilities help agribusiness operate more efficiently, enable growers to feed more of the population and create opportunities for people to thrive. Read more in my latest LinkedIn post.

By 2050, the world’s population will increase to an estimated 9.6 billion people, which will require 70% more food than today on only 10% more land.

By 2023, global meat consumption per person is expected to reach 2.4 kg.

By 2020, global sales of clean label food and beverage products will reach $180 billion.

Let those numbers sink in.

To meet that incredible global demand and consumers’ needs for more transparency, the agribusiness industry must embrace and incorporate digital technologies. Drones, apps and software will need to be just as normal as seed, chemicals and equipment. That’s where the EY agribusiness team comes in. We have made it our mission to anticipate future challenges and craft innovative solutions to help our agribusiness clients overcome them. As part of our leadership in this space, we regularly look to team with companies that share our commitment to building a better working world. One such company is Microsoft.

We began our strategic business alliance with Microsoft in 2015, and we were thrilled to announce the extension of this relationship at #ChicagoIdeasWeek. Every year in October, leading thought-provoking experts in business, art, science and culture descend upon our city for Chicago Ideas Week. For seven days, these leaders share their insights and experiences with audiences ranging from casual observers to seasoned professionals to further the mission of Chicago Ideas Week to inspire, connect and empower curious people to make the world a better place.

This atmosphere of curiosity and innovation made it the perfect place for the EY agribusiness team to announce the continuation of our alliance with Microsoft. Through our alliance, we will continue to combine our technology consulting experience and agribusiness knowledge with Microsoft’s digital suite of tools and Microsoft Azure cloud platform to help the agricultural industry incorporate digital technologies. Our joint solutions are leveraging data, analytics, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence to help enable agribusinesses to operate more efficiently.

We’ve already seen success in our alliance with Microsoft. For example, together we have created services to help protect digital enterprise, digital identity and data, and to improve cyberattack incident response and recovery capabilities. Our research in the agribusiness sector has led us to identify a number of bottlenecks constraining digital agriculture innovation that we are working with Microsoft to combat.

By combining our digital analytics experience and Microsoft’s Azure Platform and TV Whitespace, we are assisting food and agribusiness companies to rapidly pull together the needed technologies to make a farm “smarter.” Once fully incorporated, the technology will create “digital twins” of farms with the ability to monitor threats, model predictive outcomes and integrate with agriculture service providers or product platforms in a more secure and seamless way. While farms and agribusinesses will be the primary users of this technology, the data and information collected can be used to inform the entire food production supply chain – a significant step toward greater food safety and transparency.

During Chicago Ideas Week, we partnered with FARM Illinois to present the “Microsoft FarmBeats: Feeding the World via Data Driven Farming” lab. FarmBeats is one of Microsoft’s end-to-end Internet of Things platforms for agriculture companies that uses sensors, drones, connectivity capabilities and machine learning-based analytics software to increase efficiency. FarmBeats is a prime example of an EY and Microsoft initiative. Our vision is for EY to add its leadership and experience in agribusiness consulting and data analytics to Microsoft’s cloud and data platforms to create unique and custom solutions.

Our alliance with Microsoft on these solutions is just one of many initial steps toward enabling growers to profitably meet the needs of a growing population and creating opportunities for people to thrive in the food and agribusiness industry. It’s crucial for us to begin preparing now, rather than waiting for a global food crisis to strike. With Microsoft’s help, we are building a better working world, and I look forward to our continued collaboration to make digital farming accessible to farms and agricultural developers of all sizes around the world.

Partner, Global Agribusiness Leader at EY

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