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Embracing technology to improve data health—and your bottom line

For too long, agribusinesses in the Ag input supply chain industry have left a huge opportunity for growth on the table:

Embracing technology to streamline the rebate reconciliation process.

The current system is… well, messy.

Data errors abound, inefficiency reigns, costs are high for systems (and labor hours) to wrangle all the necessary info for a rebate check. From point A to point B, the process is slow, laden with mistakes, and inherently breeds distrust because of a lack of visibility and communication between trade partners.

On the surface, improving the tech used in this process could obviously lead to more efficiency, and less reliance on cumbersome, manual tasks.

But should the Ag input supply chain fully embrace better technology (and good data health it can enable), there are many downstream benefits to agribusiness CEOs. With better data, leaders at distributors and retailers can make better decisions, more quickly identify market opportunities, improve their bottom lines, and create a scalable foundation for the future.

That all starts with understanding where the industry as a whole (and the incentive/rebate process specifically) are now—and identifying where there are opportunities for a more 21st century approach.

Why the status quo doesn’t work

Today’s Ag input rebate reconciliation process is based on tools and processes that were built decades ago. But in a time when supply chains are more complex than they’ve ever been, and the industry is moving faster than it ever has, reliance on old-school systems causes widespread issues:

There’s too much batch processing at the end of the rebate season, leading to chaotic races to the finish, more labor costs, and higher stress on an already stretched workforce. That inefficiency is annoying to everyone involved—but also causes hits to the bottom line.

Lack of real-time updates creates confusion on pricing or rebate amounts. In the 21st century, that slowness also keeps the Ag input supply chain lagging behind other industries.

Data publishers currently have to send their information to multiple destinations, in multiple formats (XML file, emailing an Excel file, uploading to a web portal, etc). When distributors and retailers are having to send their data in 8-10 different formats, there’s higher risk for mistakes.

Manual data correction has to happen at each stage of the process, from initial retail system, through third-party vendors / collectors, and all the way to a final rebate being processed. Data could be replicated in 4-6 different systems—and still retain errors.

There’s currently no attempt to fix the root issue of poor data health. Errors are corrected retroactively, but publishers don’t have visibility over what was fixed—or how to solve the problem in the future.

Distributors and retailers sending data into the “black box” of third-party vendors means losing visibility and ownership over their own data—breeding inherent distrust in the process. Plus, with no data ownership, publishers also lose access to the strategic insights they could have gleaned from that info.

The opportunity — and the Smartwyre solution

The Ag input supply chain has a chance today to evolve past the days of archaic processes, manual work-arounds, and time-consuming data wrangling.

Instead, it could embrace technology that’s scalable for the future.

Better tech can reduce the end-of-year administrative burden on teams, streamline agribusinesses’ operations, and improve business intelligence (which leads to better decision-making, and higher profits).

With Smartwyre’s Data & Transaction Solutions (DTS), that improved future is finally possible.

Thanks to its cloud-based technology, DTS empowers real-time connection across organizations. Its security features allow data publishers to easily control how and when they share their data. With status tracking, instant alerts, and in-app data hygiene tools, distributors and retailers can retain visibility over the rebate process—and fix data issues before they become recurring problems.

But streamlined operations is only half the story. With sustained access to their data and a flexible reporting suite within DTS, distributors and retailers can monitor patterns and identify new opportunities. Better data and better reporting capabilities empower better decision-making—which leads to better bottom lines.

For years, other industries (and even other sectors within the Agriculture industry) have embraced technology as a means of working smarter, not harder.

It’s time for the Ag input supply chain to do the same.

If you’re interested in learning more about how DTS can optimize your business performance—both financially and operationally—get in touch with us today.