Unlocking the Potential of AgTech IoT With Platform Consolidation

As the AgTech IoT space consolidates, corporations look for technologies that expand their capabilities and integrate with their existing offerings.

Published in
5 min readJun 22, 2021


By Harman Johar

Research Contributions by Godfrey Bakuli, Ariel Steinlauf, and KJ Zeitlian

Photo by Luke Thornton on Unsplash

Using IoT Technology in Agriculture Today

The early emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) sparked enthusiasm for the potential use of data to improve the way we grow our food, and particularly the way we raise livestock. Yet, agtech has seen the number and variety of IoT sensors proliferate faster than the ability to extract insights from them. Today’s farmers and livestock producers are finding themselves overwhelmed with sensors and buried under growing caches of unanalyzed data.

The salmon farming industry is an excellent example of the current over-propagation of IoT sensors in agriculture and livestock tech. IoT data applications for key metrics yielded some useful insights and fueled the salmon industry’s demand for more technology. This demand has been met with a flood of innovation teams determined to track every aspect of raising salmon (or any other crop or livestock) — resulting in a fragmented solution landscape and sensors jostling for space with fish in crowded tanks.

This overabundance of IoT devices agitates and endangers the fish. It also requires farmers to incorporate new technology, learn new UIs, and figure out how to integrate new data streams with existing infrastructure from other platforms every time they add a new device.

Photo by Bruce Warrington on Unsplash

Farmers also have to consider how their data will be managed across multiple vendors: how it will be stored and secured, how to keep it from being shared with their competitors, and the cost and effort required to store IoT-generated high-definition images and videos and process them with machine learning. All of that, plus the headaches of installation and repair, are making farmers hesitant to add more devices, even at the cost of missing out on new data that would improve their operations.

Yet while salmon farmers are illustrative of the problems facing AgTech and IoT today, their situation also suggests a straightforward path out of it.

The future of AgTech IoT

At the beginning of 2021, Bionic worked with a leading Animal Health Company to reposition its newest IoT device. Originally developed to monitor a single, specific condition in fish pens, the offering was one more thing for farmers to manage. By considering customer perspectives, we repositioned the solution instead as a centralized IoT management platform. Now, farmers who adopt the unit can upgrade a wide variety of sensors and consolidate them onto a single solution, making more room in each fish pen, while merging multiple metrics into a single platform delivered directly to the farmer’s computer. This prompted the shift in perception from the device as another thing to manage to being a value-add that would help manage multiple devices.

We believe this indicates a clear path out of the current complexity that prevents AgTech IoT from achieving its full potential. Consolidating sensors in the hands of a few players will allow previously diffused and heterogeneous data streams to report into a single platform, with the following benefits:

  • Greater and easier access to data for supply chain transparency and quality regulation
  • Unified data streams allow for optimum Machine Learning
  • Easier detection of data leakage
  • Supporting the creation and promulgation of standardized metrics to enable benchmarking
  • Streamlined, simplified use and management, both in devices and in UI/user experience
  • Integrated reporting for deeper insight and more targeted actions
  • Consolidated data privacy terms

“The critical shift here is the understanding that innovation in AgTech IoT is no longer about the sensors themselves.” — Harman Johar

It’s now about giving users the ability to optimize the ever-growing volumes of data their IoT devices are gathering through more convenient consolidation, more accessible UI, and the AI/ML technologies necessary to process that data into actionable insights. Vendors have to be able to show how they can deliver these insights to help farmers make micro-interventions — i.e. to take the smallest necessary action at the precisely right time to achieve the desired improvements in outcomes. Ultimately, as data streams converge, this consolidation will not only drive greater efficiency and productivity, but enable near real-time reactions and even pre-event interventions.

Success strategies for AgTech

As the AgTech IoT space consolidates, larger corporate players will be looking for technologies that expand their capabilities and integrate with their existing offerings. These critical insights will help you steer clear of device chaos in your AgTech business and help you navigate the transforming industry landscape.

Top Strategies For Corporations

  • Review your current sensor catalog and consider what can be consolidated, both physically and digitally.
  • Do not get fixated on hardware — look for AI/ML innovations that unlock the data you are already capturing.
  • Keep abreast of the competitive landscape and strategize for inorganic innovation through acquisitions.
  • Plan for large-scale data storage and robust data privacy protocols.
  • Build UIs with the farmer in mind and backend systems with future acquisitions in mind.

Top Strategies For Startups

  • Design and develop your technology with an eye toward being acquired.
  • Make your technology vendor-neutral. Technology built in a walled garden is hard to integrate.
  • Ensure that your data integrates with third-party data and UIs, and vice versa. In a consolidated environment, interoperability is key.
  • Startups that aim to carve out their own competitive niches won’t have the resources to compete, but if you provide something that augments existing products, you’re likely to find yourself receiving multiple buyout offers.

Gleaning Actionable Insights from IoT Data

Focusing on building a seamless ecosystem opens the door to unlocking deep efficiencies — not just immediately, but well into the future. Bionic believes that the next five years will bring significant consolidation and data stream integration. The true revolutionary impact of IoT on AgTech will come after that — when it will become possible to pool and apply advanced computational resources to all data from all sensors. At that point, the agricultural industry will be able to mine actionable insights, not just from individual farms or even individual vendors, but also across every farm. And that, in turn, will make it possible for the industry to come even closer to feeding a hungry world.

Learn more about Bionic’s services and work at onbionic.com




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