Michael Watson Ph.D
Sep 27th, 2014

Today, I was watching the PSU-NU game on the Big Ten Network when an ad came on for Case New Holland’s AFS Connect system (a farm management system).  At first blush, there is nothing new about farm equipment manufacturers advertising on the Big Ten network.  A lot of farmers watch Big Ten games.

But, what struck me was that the ad was really all about Big Data.

The first line of the ad was:  “My data is mine, not mined.”

Impressive:  the first line in an ad meant for a general audience refers to data mining.  This is further proof that Big Data is here to stay and that you should pay attention to it.

The ad didn’t stop there.  The whole point of the ad was to stress that farmers owned their data.  Within the next 30 seconds, the word “mine” must have been used 10-15 times.

This ad was in direct response to the current debate about who owns a farmer’s data.  Seed companies are offering farmers analytics to help increase the yields of their farms.  Farmers started to realize that the seed companies could use this data against them– if the seed companies had enough aggregate data they could better hedge future commodity markets, gain a price advantage, or help a farmer’s competitor.  There is a lively debate raging in the farm community about the ownership of this data.  This Case New Holland ad was in direct response to that.

The reason there is a debate is that the large data sets can have tremendous value.  This applies to farm data, health data, shopping data, transportation data, equipment reliability data, and so on.  There is real economic value in data.   We just hosted a recent  virtual users group where we talked about the value of collecting and analyzing detailed transportation data relating to whether a carrier accepts a given load– shippers who are using this data can reduce costs and better negotiate contracts.

We are finding that companies are not taking advantage of the data they have.  And, if they are not careful, they may be giving away valuable data to others.