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Farmlands taps Microsoft for $90M transformation

Farmlands taps Microsoft for $90M transformation

Ambitious and challenging project is rated by Microsoft as one of its top five engagements globally

Farmlands is making a three-year, $90 million commitment to transformation

Farmlands is making a three-year, $90 million commitment to transformation

Farmlands is embarking on a three-year, $90 million transformation program, replacing legacy technology and reexamining all aspects of the business.

The rural supplies co-operative's annual report describes the project, dubbed Braveheart, as a "bold step into the centre of our business".

"We have engaged leading technology firm Microsoft to help us achieve our ultimate goal of becoming New Zealand's greatest agribusiness provider," the co-opertive told shareholders in its 2017 annual report.

"The scale of the challenge is reflected in the fact that Microsoft has labelled the Braveheart Programme as one of its top five global projects - as measured by scale and complexity, not dollars invested."

Farmlands reported $2.16 billion in revenue for the year ended 30 June 2017, while profit was $5.4 million, up from a $9 million loss in 2016.

Braveheart includes the replacement of legacy IT systems and scalable enhancements to provide significantly improved information to better manage the business. Total business benefits are estimated at $112 million over five years, including savings in legacy system costs of $28 million.

"Funding is provided within existing banking arrangements and we have balance sheet capacity for investment to enhance our offerings to shareholders," the business said.

Farmlands' "Lead Kilt" in the Braveheart program, Jason Brophy, released a video this month responding to concerns about slow information flows, saying there was a need to make sure such information was 100 per cent correct.

In addition, Brophy goes on to outline the "Kilt stategy" as a series of training programs for each Braveheart deployment.

Under the Braveheart banner, Farmlands has committed to "fearlessly examine" all aspects of its business," the co-op said. Specifically, these include but are not limited to: how technology is used; processes and systems within the business, and; how to serve shareholders better.

"We are positive that the technology solutions that Microsoft is developing for Farmlands will lift the performance of our business - and yours," Farmlands said.

The project will see Farmlands become a data-centric organisation, the co-op said. The new technology platform will deliver a helicopter view of farm profitability, input costs, crop or stock performance and environmental and safety compliance.

"The ability to mine and harness data will allow shareholders to make fact and evidence-based decisions," the co-op added. "It will mean, too, that you can measure the effectiveness of your relationship with Farmlands."

Among the new developments is a planning tool to help the co-op respond to shareholder needs, allow farmer shareholders to enter budgets and generate calendars of key on-farm events and to order supplies without visiting a store.

One planned outcome of the project is to allow the cooperative to use its buying power to drive prices down while improving quality and range.

Farmlands isn't the only Kiwi agricultural cooperative focusing on transformation. Last week Reseller News reported on Ballance Agri-nutrients' $35 million programme.


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