For CIOs seeking new ways to bring top-line value to their business, keeping an eye on what other IT organizations are doing is invaluable. Last week we started exploring the real-world examples of IT-led revenue-generating initiatives highlighted in a recent report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. But for Land O’Lakes CIO Mike Macrie, inspiration came from inside rather than outside the company.
According to the report, the business leader of the Land O’Lake’s WinField business unit shared his vision of the future with Macrie – which became the launchpad for a suite of revenue-generating products coming from IT. “He had a vision that technology was going to dramatically change the way we went to market and the way farmers would make decisions in 15-20 years. And he painted for us a very strong vision of what he thought it would be,” said Macrie.
Snapshot: Land O’Lakes R7® Tool by WinField United
What it is: Stemming from a close partnership between Macrie and WinField EVP and COO Mike Vande Logt, R7® is “a software platform sold to retailers and, through them, to growers. It provides advanced, near-real-time capabilities for farmers to analyze the history and productivity of their fields and to select the right seeds based on that and proprietary Answer Plot® data. Accessed through a mobile device, it helps both retailers and farmers in the field make better decisions and react faster to changing conditions.”
Challenge and opportunity: There is a shift in priorities when IT becomes a driver of revenue. Macrie summarizes this shift in the report: “When you’re providing a system for employees, functionality and cost are king. When you’re talking about an external-facing product…the user experience can make or break your brand in the eyes of your customers,” he says.
According to the report, Macrie redefined roles from project to product managers for his external-facing initiatives. “My product managers own the product from birth to death. And their main goals are whatever objectives the business has set out for them. We’ve got to build the right thing, and we’ve got to get it adopted by our customers. If it is exclusively a revenue-generating opportunity, they’re also aligned incentive-wise toward generating that revenue,” he says.
Outcomes: R7® became a starting point for a number of additional products helping farmers identify and solve problems in real time during the growing season. These IT-led products include a field monitoring tool, which uses satellite imagery to detect anomalies; a forecasting tool; and a cloud-based system that enables the exchange of geospacial and other data.
Download the full report, “Revenue-generating CIOs: Smart strategies to grow the business,” for more inspiration, or follow our snapshot series here.
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