October 29, 2022

The Value of Bosses Walking in their Employees' Shoes

While dining at a restaurant, my father always expressed his appreciation when the owner walked around the dining establishment. Not only does "walking the floor" provide owners with the opportunity to connect with customers, doing so allowed them to understand what their employees were experiencing in real time. But an owner who delivered food from the kitchen, refilled water glasses or helped clean the table for the next customer truly impressed my father. An article by The Economist focuses on how bosses can understand what life is like for the staff. "Walking in employees' shoes is a way for bosses to understand what impedes productivity, what saps morale and what makes workers feel valued," the article notes.

One way of obtaining the employees' views on what is life is like working at the company is through surveys. However, as the article points out, "Even if a boss genuinely wants to hear the unvarnished truth, employees may not be comfortable delivering it. Anonymous surveys can help encourage honesty, as can exit interviews, but even in these settings, workers may temper their views." What is more, "Reviews on sites like Glassdoor can be brutal, but the motives of the people posting them are not always transparent. Corporate-messaging apps like Slack can provide a partial window into how some teams are getting on, but surveillance is not a form of empathy. And none of this is the same as knowing what it is actually like to be an employee."

I agree that "it is good for managers to spend time doing the same work as their" employees. The article also explains that "Airlines and retailers have run schemes that involve executives working in front-line roles in airports and on shop floors. DoorDash, a delivery app, has a program called WeDash that requires salaried employees to make regular drop-offs. And bosses can do things for themselves that people without assistants must navigate alone. Filling out expense forms is a chore: everyone should have to do their own, at least occasionally. By default bosses should fly in the same airline class as their colleagues do. And so on."

But, the article importantly concludes that it is equally important for employees to understand what a manger experiences: "If managers can learn a few things by walking in employees' shoes, there is also value in workers thinking about what life is like as a boss. It is not all business-class travel and people agreeing with you. Imagine getting in a lift and conversation around you always dying. Imagine being grumbled about all the time, or knowing that your absence causes a general lightening of the mood. Imagine not being able to kick a difficult decision upstairs. The boss wears much nicer shoes but they can still pinch."

What are your recommendations for how managers can gain the employees' perspective, which in turn could improve morale and improve productivity?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

October 27, 2022

Korean Companies Demonstrate Their Innovative Tech Solutions at TechCrunch Disrupt 2022

TechCrunch Disrupt resumed its in-person event in San Francisco from Oct. 18th-20th, 2022. The conference's purpose is to bring together the global startup community to discover insights, collaborate, and celebrate achievements that have defined each founder's journey and for those yet to come in the future. At the invitation of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), a state-funded trade and investment promotion agency operated by the South Korean government, I had the opportunity to visit the conference's Korea Pavilion and meet with startup founders and their colleagues. Among the 20 great companies that demonstrated their innovative products and services at the pavilion, which was co-hosted by the Korea International Trade Research Institute (KITRI), there are a few are worth mentioning based on my professional and personal interests (the program book containing a description of all 20 companies may be viewed here).

Cochl created an artificial intelligence (AI) platform specializing in ambient sound recognition. Use cases include public safety (faster response to shooting incidents, vandalism detection for buildings, and violence prevention by scream/yell monitoring), traffic monitoring (automatic car accident report and illegal car honking noise monitoring), and autonomous driving (ambulance and police car siren detection for giving right-of-way action and car window break monitoring). Another valuable use case is in the defense sector by using smart glasses with gunshot analysis, submarine and torpedo type analysis, and surrounding environment monitoring with unmanned ground vehicles.

Dabeeo provides global geospatial information based on AI/ML (machine learning) technology by reading and interpreting the earth to help customers build or modify digital maps. Its STUDIO for maps is a SaaS platform that makes creating, editing, and managing map data convenient and intuitive to use. This website provides several examples of how retailers, showrooms, factories, stadiums, and exhibition centers are using the cloud-based platform.

TheWaveTalk developed a technology that uses laser multi-scattering and deep learning to measure foreign substances in water with great precision. Through the technology, they developed a home water quality meter called the WaTalk, which scatters light inside the water using a laser and analyzes small signals of fine particles such as bacteria, virus, organic pollutants, and microplastics to determine the degree of contamination. The company says its product is 20-50 times cheaper than professional measuring equipment.

Image: Willog
 is simplifying the complex cold chain industry. (A cold chain is a low temperature-controlled supply chain network.) The company's patent-based monitoring device collects various data during the entire logistics process, and displays it on a QR code. Willog's data monitoring device, the One Time QR (OTQ), which can be placed on vehicles, shipping containers or pallets, allows instant confirmation of temperature records by scanning the QR code with a smartphone camera and does not require other training or equipment. Effective field operation response is possible without extra time or procedures spent between the driver and the personnel to check the temperature. Where the device cannot be physically retrieved, Willog's OTQ-N uses near-field communication (NFC) to facilitate logistics monitoring within a flexible environment.

While KOTRA provides a useful service in the promotion of trade and investment with 128 Korea Business Centers located in 84 countries, the agency also facilitates global people-to-people exchange and technological exchange. I appreciate having the opportunity to meet with ambitious startup leaders who are building companies that improve the way we live, work, and play.

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

October 17, 2022

A Framework for Improving ESG Reporting in the Mobile Industry

In my previous post about a report published by GSMA on how the mobile industry is impacting the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), I referenced a framework, ESG Metrics for Mobile, developed by GSMA alongside EY, a consultancy, and the Yale Center for Business and the Environment. Several readers sent comments asking for additional information about the framework, which is a first-of-its-kind mobile sector ESG reporting framework featuring ten industry-specific key performance indicators (KPIs). Featuring ten industry-specific KPIs, the framework covers a range of key material topics for the sector, from energy consumption and waste reduction to digital inclusion and data protection. The common metrics are designed to simplify and harmonize environmental, social, and governance (ESG) disclosures and complement universal reporting, by adding a crucial industry-specific lens.

A white paper authored by representatives from EY explains, "There is a critical need for more effective and consistent approaches to measuring and communicating ESG performance." Moreover, "Sustainability is one of the defining issues of our generation. Consumers, employees and regulators are increasingly vocal regarding their expectations for companies to act responsibly and to demonstrate how they create value to society."

The report also notes that "EY research has found that 90 percent of investors attach greater importance to companies' ESG performance when it comes to their investment strategy and decision making than they did before the global pandemic. Mobile operators recognize that, by placing greater focus on their ESG performance, they can build stronger relationships with stakeholders and create financial value."

The report's key findings include:
  • Mobile operators currently report on most of the industry's key topics, but not always in a consistent way
  • EY's proposed industry KPIs are designed to enhance consistency and impact
  • The mobile industry can use the proposed KPIs to measure and improve ESG performance
  • Attitudes towards ESG are shifting
  • Mobile operators are uniquely placed to accelerate progress on a range of ESG issues
  • Measuring and communicating ESG performance is critical

During the consultation process, five criteria were used to define the minimum requirements that a sector KPI should meet.
  1. Meaningful for stakeholders: The KPI will influence the assessments and decisions of external stakeholders, including investors.
  2. Decision-useful: The KPI will influence internal decision making and convey information to the mobile operator that can substantively enhance the company's ability to create value.
  3. Comparable: The KPI will enable meaningful peer-to-peer comparisons across geographies, and the definitions and calculation methods are transferable to most companies.
  4. Feasible: The KPI can be implemented by the company. It is simple and short, aligns to existing standards where possible, and uses standardized measurements. The underlying methods and approaches are robust and follow accepted approaches.
  5. Best indicator: For the given topic, the KPI represents the best indicator of the company's ability to create value in the short, medium and long term.

In reference to the image on the right presenting the mobile industry's framework, the report explains: "Taken together, the universal and industry-specific KPIs will help create less burdensome and more meaningful data collection and reporting processes, and provide greater consistency in the information disclosed about operators' ESG performance." What is more, "This will enable operators to take a proactive position in providing relevant material disclosures, and supply the tools and setting for data preparers and data users to have a more enhanced and constructive dialogue on ESG performance."

In addressing the next steps for mobile operators and other stakeholders, the report presents "three critical steps that mobile operators and their stakeholders can take to ensure that the industry ESG framework accelerates performance across the mobile industry and beyond":
  1. Align company's leadership behind the ESG KPIs. "ESG reporting should be owned by the Board, CEO and CFO — with relevant inputs from functional teams. There should be clarity around what ESG-related transformation means for corporate strategy, how investments in sustainability contribute to financial performance, and how the KPIs can help organizations measure success."
  2. Raise awareness of the framework with the investment community and other external stakeholders. "Open and ongoing conversations between operators and investors will also be a critical step to refining and validating the KPIs. Operators can help investors understand which ESG issues are most material to their organization and be able to frame ESG discussions in the context of financial performance. These dialogues should also ensure that the KPIs provide the information that investors need to make assessments of the company’s long-term value. At the same time, socializing the KPIs with policymakers, partners or customers in other industry verticals can also pave the way for better alignment on cross-sector enablement metrics in years to come."
  3. Adopt the metrics in future reporting, measure your performance and deliver improvements. "Operators can begin to test their ability to report against the KPIs and incorporating them into their ESG reporting cycles. This will generate the evidence, insights and experience needed to further refine the KPIs and draw better, more compelling links between ESG scores, stakeholder value and financial performance. At all stages, operators should ensure they take action where needed — whether that relates to improving KPIs themselves, or reorienting systems and processes to deliver more relevant and timely information that avoids duplication. Measuring sustainability performance is the critical step operators should take to move from ambition and strategy towards successful execution."

As operators adopt this new ESG framework, the metrics will provide stakeholders with a deeper understanding of the industry, and where its most material impacts and value are generated.

Do you support the proposed framework for improving ESG reporting in the mobile industry? Are there aspects of the framework that can be applied to other industries?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

October 13, 2022

Digital Inclusion is Central to Sustainable Development Goal Progress

In its seventh annual report on how the mobile industry is impacting the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the GSMA demonstrates the industry's "continued commitment to the SDGs, while identifying areas where the industry needs to improve or accelerate its actions to deliver on the Global Goals by 2030." Moreover, the UK-based organization, which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, says, "This year's report focuses on digital inclusion and shows how this relates to sustainable development through four main pillars: inclusive access, inclusive planet, inclusive connectivity and inclusive business."

The report shows that, six years after becoming the first industry to commit to the SDGs, the mobile sector continues to increase its contribution to the achievement of all 17 goals. However, despite mobile operators' continued commitment to the 2030 agenda, there is still a long way to go.

The report's other key findings include:
  • By the end of 2021, 5.3 billion people (66% of the global population) were using a mobile phone, while 4.3 billion people (55% of the global population) were also using mobile internet. This includes more than 3.3 billion mobile internet subscribers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where mobile is the primary and, in many cases only, form of internet access.
  • The 'usage gap' – those who live in areas covered by mobile broadband networks but remain unconnected – narrowed for the third year in a row, but still stands at 3.2 billion people. The mobile industry and its partners continue to tackle the reasons for the usage gap, which generally relate to a lack of affordability, knowledge and skills, relevance, in addition to safety and security concerns.
  • Usage of mobile-enabled activities reached new heights in 2021, as mobile subscribers ventured further into online services.
    • 3.5 billion people (67% of mobile subscribers) used their phones to make video calls in 2021. This represents an additional 330 million people since 2020, aiding remote work and other online activities.
    • 2.5 billion people (48% of mobile subscribers) used their phone to access educational information for themselves or their children, representing an increase of 410 million since 2020.
    • 2.1 billion people (41% of mobile subscribers) used their phone to improve or monitor their health, representing an increase of 270 million since 2020.
  • Usage of mobile-enabled services remained considerably lower in developing countries. On average, the gap between the usage of mobile-enabled services in high-income countries and LMICs is 17 percentage points, underlining the importance of operator efforts to introduce more locally-relevant content and upgrade networks to enable access to services requiring a higher-quality connection.
  • The mobile industry is making continued progress on disclosing climate impact data and setting targets for emissions reductions. At the end of 2021, 66% of operators by connections and 82% by revenue disclosed their climate impacts, while 34% of operators by connections and 44% by revenue had set carbon reduction targets to be net zero by 2050.
  • Mobile and digital technology could enable just under 40% of the required CO2 reductions needed by 2030 within the top four largest-emitting industries. These four industries – manufacturing, power and energy, transport, and buildings – account for 80% of global emissions.
  • There has been strong growth in the issuance of sustainability bonds in the mobile sector. This highlights that operators are increasingly securing funding on the basis of achieving social and environmental – rather than purely financial – targets.
  • With stakeholders getting smarter and more discerning when it comes to ESG claims, an effective and consistent approach to measuring and communicating performance is more important than ever. The GSMA has recently launched ESG Metrics for Mobile, a first-of-its-kind mobile sector ESG reporting framework featuring ten industry-specific KPIs. The KPIs will allow stakeholders to gain a much deeper understanding of the industry’s nuances and contexts, and create opportunities for the industry to demonstrate its impact in a more consistent manner.

With respect to the mobile industry's SDG contributions, the report notes the industry increased its impact on all 17 SDGs in 2021, with the average year-on-year increase accelerating compared with 2020. The average SDG impact score across the 17 SDGs reached 53, up from 49 in 2020 and 32 in 2015, meaning the mobile industry is achieving 53% of what it could potentially contribute to the SDGs. Other highlights include:
  • There are now eleven SDGs where mobile's contribution is over 50, compared to six in 2020 and none in 2015.
  • The mobile industry continues to achieve its highest impact on SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, driven by the reach of mobile networks and take-up of mobile internet services.
  • The biggest improvements were recorded in the industry's contribution to SDG 1: No Poverty, SDG 2: Zero Hunger and SDG 4: Quality Education. This is due to the increasing proportion of people using mobile for life-enhancing activities such as accessing government services, applying and searching for jobs and obtaining educational information for themselves or their children.

In its concluding remarks, the report accurately explains: "As the primary mean of accessing internet for billions of people and the transforming power behind every single industry, mobile connectivity is a key platform for economic development and many other life-enhancing services." However, the report also points out that "as more activities move online, unconnected populations will be at greater risk of exclusion from digital services. As a result, the mobile industry must continue to work together with its stakeholders (including governments, other industries, civil society and the international community) to accelerate digital inclusion and unlock mobile's full potential to address global issues."

I appreciate how, as explained in GSMA's press release, "The report demonstrates how people with access to fast, reliable networks are able to stay connected to friends and family, work remotely, access education and health services, build innovative businesses, improve efficiencies and reduce carbon emissions." However, the announcement crucially points out that "[t]hose without access...are most vulnerable to economic and social disruption, and risk falling further behind as the world emerges from the pandemic, especially as online services become even more integral to society."

What do you think of the report's findings? What are your recommendations for closing the mobile internet usage gap?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

October 7, 2022

North America's Metaverse Ecosystem is Growing Says Annual Report on Key Trends Shaping the Region's Mobile Industry

"Mobile networks are vital to economic recovery and the realization of green and digital transformation across North America," the GSMA asserts in its annual report on the state of North America's mobile economy. What is more, "In 2021, the US Congress passed an infrastructure bill, which allocates about $65 billion in federal funding toward expanding broadband access and 5G connectivity nationwide. In Canada, the government has recently established the Universal Broadband Fund, a CAD2.75 billion ($2.1 billion) investment to support high-speed internet projects across the country, including mobile internet projects in underserved areas. These developments highlight the opportunity for operators to partner with governments to improve connectivity across society and drive post-pandemic economic recovery."

According to research provided by GSMA Intelligence, there are 214 operators from 81 countries offering commercial 5G services. Across North America, which is defined as the US, Canada, and the Caribbean (GSMA includes Mexico in its Latin America report), the report shows that 5G will account for almost two-thirds of total mobile connections by 2025, the equivalent of nearly 280 million connections. The report also explains how 5G's upward trajectory was boosted by several factors such as economic recovery from the pandemic, rising 5G handset sales, and overall marketing efforts. In addition, the report highlights mobile connectivity's role in contributing to the economy and social well-being.

The report's other key findings include:
  • The North American mobile ecosystem directly generated around $300 billion of economic value in 2021, with mobile operators accounting for the majority
  • Mobile operators continue to innovate in addressing the digital divide, driving the industry's contribution to multiple UN SDGs, including SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure and SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities
  • In 2021, the mobile ecosystem directly employed more than 850,000 people in North America and supported another 1.4 million jobs indirectly
  • In 2021, the mobile ecosystem contributed almost $110 billion to the funding of the public sector through consumer and operator taxes
  • 5G set to overtake 4G in 2023 to become the dominant mobile technology in North America
  • By 2025, smartphones will account for nearly 9 in 10 connections on average in North America
  • North America is home to some of the world's biggest consumers of mobile data
  • As 5G rises, 4G declines, but adoption will continue to rise across the Caribbean for the foreseeable future
  • In the first five months of 2022, more than $120 billion was invested in building out metaverse technology and infrastructure, more than double the $57 billion invested in 2021

Infographic: GSMA

With respect to the growth of North America's metaverse ecosystem, while "still nascent," the GSMA says "the significant levels of investment in metaverse initiatives and market-size estimates reflect the opportunities possible from the rapid advancement of the metaverse over the coming years." For those unfamiliar with the term, the metaverse is simply defined as a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users.

The report adds that "The metaverse ecosystem is growing in many countries around the world, including in North America. In the US and Canada, public and private institutions are increasingly establishing a presence in the metaverse and actively utilizing the platform in their engagement with customers and other stakeholders. For example, the US military relies on a series of metaverse or metaverse-adjacent virtual reality programs for a variety of applications, from training to healthcare; KPMG's US and Canadian member firms jointly launched a metaverse collaboration hub to support employee and client journeys into Web 3.0; and Barbados has signed an agreement with Decentraland to outline the baseline development elements for its metaverse embassy."

The fashion retail sector will present use case opportunities for the metaverse. "Brands around the world have taken notice of the metaverse because they believe it will usher in the next age of consumerism," the report explains. "Well-recognized brands, such as Balenciaga, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Nike, have already began collaborating with platforms similar to the metaverse in order to reach a broader audience. The Metaverse Fashion Week hosted on Decentraland in March 2022 speaks to the potential for different use cases across retail."

The GSMA, however, points out some challenges North America's mobile industry may encounter in the near-future. After a swift recovery from the impact of the pandemic, mobile revenue in North America is facing renewed pressure from macroeconomic challenges, notably inflation. In addition, capital expenditures will decline in the coming years following initial investments in the rollout of 5G networks.

What do you think of the report's findings? How are you taking advantage of the growth of 5G adoption while mitigating the macroeconomic risks that may impact North America's mobile industry?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

October 5, 2022

Report Explores the Emergence of Smart Farming Solutions in LMICs and Identifies Opportunities to Scale These Solutions

From working a wide range of project such as growing matoke in Uganda, storing apples in Uzbekistan or exporting rice out of Cambodia, I appreciate how innovative technology solutions can help small farmers and businesses in the agriculture sector. Therefore, it was with great interest to read a report published by the GSMA, a UK-based organization that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, which presents findings from an assessment of smart farming solutions for smallholders in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

With research performed by a team from the Digital Agri Hub, which strives to build a sustainable digital agriculture (D4Ag) landscape towards agriculture transformation LMICs, the assessment examined more than 70 smart farming solutions being implemented in LMICs around the world. The solutions cover three sub-use cases including smart crop management, smart livestock management, and mechanization.

Image of smart farming sub-use cases: GSMA

The Digital Agri Hub team focused their research on answering the following questions:
  1. What are the leading smart farming solutions available in LMICs?
  2. What smallholder challenges do these smart farming solutions address?
  3. What are the enabling factors and challenges impacting the growth of technology-enabled smart farming solutions?
  4. What use cases do the various smart farming solutions support and how do they contribute to climate and disaster resilience, inclusivity and increased productivity and well-being?
  5. What operational and business models for smart farming are emerging and how can smart farming solutions achieve scale?
  6. What technologies are supporting the implementation of smart farming solutions?
  7. How are investors perceiving the smart farming opportunity?

In the data collected from researching the aforementioned questions, six key trends were identified:
  1. Smart farming solutions have had a strong focus on high-end, capital-intensive crops like horticulture, aquaculture and livestock, in contrast to other digital agriculture solutions where there is a stronger focus on cash crops.
  2. Smart farming services require a robust technical background and strong digital services know-how. As a result, there are fewer traditional digital agriculture service players (such as mobile operators, NGOs and governments) playing a leading role in the roll-out of smart farming solutions.
  3. Although achieving scale has been elusive for most smart farming solution providers to date, aquaculture management service solution providers have enjoyed some early successes in expanding their user numbers and attracting funding from investors.
  4. Smart farming solution providers focused on smallholder farmers are pivoting away from pitching the technology itself (smart sensors, smart greenhouses, smart irrigation systems, etc.) to pitching platforms and solutions that solve specific smallholder problems.
  5. Smart farming solutions are often bundled with e-commerce platforms that connect farmers to input suppliers, traders and buyers to help them find markets for their increased yields.
  6. Smart farming solutions have struggled to make inroads with female farmers given the nascent stage of most smart farming companies. In the early stages, D4Ag providers have focused on scale without necessarily taking a gender lens approach.
Researchers also identified six main business models being implemented by smart farming solution providers in LMICs: upfront purchase or asset transfer, pay-as-you-go (PAYG), smart farming-as-a-service/subscription, freemium or tiered, service bundling, and data or insights monetization. The report points out that "These are not mutually exclusive as D4Ag providers may rely on different models to target different customer segments. For example, a D4Ag provider may rely on upfront purchases for their business-to-business (B2B) channel but on pay-as-you-go (PAYG) for their business-to-consumer (B2C) channel."

What is more, "To date, the smart farming services that have had the most success achieving scale are those that rely on the PAYG or smart farming-as-a-service models. These business models lower the barrier to entry for smallholder farmers while creating an ongoing relationship that allows the D4Ag provider to maintain control of the farmer relationship and upsell new services over time."

I appreciate the report's assertion that "Given the nascent stage of the smart farming opportunity in LMICs, investors, donors and other industry stakeholders will need to take several steps before deciding to invest in a smart farming venture." Research from the Digital Agri Hub "has resulted in the following recommendations for ecosystem players seeking to invest in smart farming solutions in LMICs:"
  1. Prioritize higher-margin value chains for market entry, such as fresh produce, aquaculture and livestock. These value chains give smallholder farmers slightly more room to invest in new technologies than cash crops, which tend to have very low margins and prices are beyond their control.
  2. Consider the characteristics of a country before deciding on market entry. Pay particular attention to the regulatory environment, available network infrastructure, the competitive environment and the maturity of the targeted value chains.
  3. Prioritize the right partnerships. Smart farming solutions tend to be more complex than other digital agriculture solutions and, therefore, often require the participation of other ecosystem players. Look to other D4Ag providers to enhance the service offering, to agribusinesses and cooperatives to help aggregate demand, to financial service providers (FSPs) to facilitate financing or identify new target segments (for the monetization of data), to mobile network operators (MNOs) for network access and client relationships and to asset or hardware manufacturers to help reduce the cost of the hardware by creating scale.
  4. Take a long view. Patient capital from early investors will make it easier for D4Ag providers with smart farming solutions to attract additional investors and scale their business. D4Ag players will need to spend time educating investors about the potential of smart farming solutions.
  5. Ensure farmers are involved in the design of smart farming solutions. Solutions must solve challenges that smallholder farmers face in their daily lives, not those that governments, investors or other stakeholders perceive they face.
  6. Understand the total cost of the solution being offered and how that compares with a smallholder farmer’s ability to pay for the solution. This includes understanding the full cost of implementing the technology (e.g. setting up the sensors, installing gateways, etc.) as well as the ongoing support (e.g. access to the platform, data connectivity, etc.).
  7. Offer more than just data. It is critical, particularly in the context of smallholder farming, that D4Ag solution providers offer more than just the data generated from their smart farming technology. They must translate that data into specific recommendations and, eventually, automated actions. They must also endeavor to offer holistic solutions that help farmers solve a multitude of challenges, not just one specific challenge.
The report correctly notes that "Smart farming solutions can power the transformation of the agriculture sector and assist in the professionalization of smallholder farming by automating decision-making at the farm level." Moreover, "They can help smallholder farmers in LMICs increase their productivity and disaster resilience by opening access to assets and mechanization, optimizing the use of inputs, labor and natural resources and reducing crop and animal losses and waste."

This assessment of the smart farming opportunity in LMICs is the first in a series of reports produced for the Digital Agri Hub that highlight innovations supporting climate and disaster resilience, inclusivity and increased productivity and well-being. I appreciate how the report explores the emergence of smart farming solutions in LMICs and identifies opportunities to scale these solutions. The report also serves as a valuable took in providing supply-side solution providers, such as agritech innovators and mobile operators, as well as the investors and donors that support them, with insights into the smart farming opportunity in LMICs.

What are your recommendations for improving smart farming solutions to help smallholder farmers access assets and mechanization, increase labor efficiency, improve productivity and resilience to climate change, promote the inclusion of groups typically left behind (including women and youth), increase incomes and facilitate smallholder access to credit and insurance products?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.