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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Moving forward in 2015: The information highway

by Traci Eatherton, Editor

[Editor’s note: This is Part 2 following last week’s “Moving forward in 2015; prediction and outlook” on page 14.] 2011, the Cisco Visual Networking Index Projects predicted that networking devices would outnumber the population by 2 to 1 by 2015. While I could not find numbers to find out if this prediction came true, I do know that I own more than my fair share, and I’ve watched the ag population take over its share of the networking market.

The company also said the total amount of global Internet traffic would quadruple by 2015 and reach 966 exabytes per year, and again, ag has jumped on board, sharing the information highway.

And the role technology plays in agriculture will likely continue to grow in 2015.

Gartner, Inc. shared its top predictions for 2015 and beyond, which included a shift in the age-old relationship between man and machine, primarily digital.

“For some time now, there has been an ongoing shift in the roles machines play in our everyday lives,” said Daryl Plummer, Vice President, Distinguished Analyst and Gartner Fellow. “Computer-based machines are now being used to create an ever-expanding variety of experiences that extend human endeavors. Machines are taking on more human characteristics in order to affect a more personalized relationship with human beings and we find ourselves contemplating a near-term future of a world in which machines and humans are coworkers, and possibly even codependents.”

By 2018, digital business will require 50 percent less business process workers and 500 percent more key digital business jobs, compared with traditional models, according to Garner, Inc.

By year-end 2016, 50 percent of digital transformation initiatives will be unmanageable due to lack of portfolio management skills, leading to a measurable negative lost market share.

And by 2017, the company predicts, nearly 20 percent of durable goods e-tailers will use 3D printing (3DP) to create personalized product offerings. By 2015, more than 90 percent of durable goods e-tailers will actively seek external partnerships to support the new “personalized” product business models.

As the Internet and global technology continue to lead the way, where does that leave agriculture? For those moving forward on the information highway and adapting to the new technology and global economy ideas, the possibilities are endless.

In addition to the technology piece, a growing global mentality has created some growth predictions in the markets and trade relations.

Despite a disappointing year in some countries, developing countries should see an uptick in growth in 2015, boosted in part by soft oil prices, a stronger U.S. economy, continued low global interest rates, and receding domestic headwinds in several large emerging markets, says the World Bank Group’s Global Economic Prospects (GEP) report.

After growing by an estimated 2.6 percent in 2014, the global economy is projected to expand by 3 percent this year, 3.3 percent in 2016 and 3.2 percent in 2017, predicts the bank’s twice-yearly flagship report. Developing countries grew by 4.4 percent in 2014 and are expected to edge up to 4.8 percent in 2015, strengthening to 5.3 and 5.4 percent in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

“In this uncertain economic environment, developing countries need to judiciously deploy their resources to support social programs with a laser-like focus on the poor and undertake structural reforms that invest in people,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “It’s also critical for countries to remove any unnecessary roadblocks for private sector investment. The private sector is by far the greatest source of jobs and that can lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.”

Trade flows are likely to remain weak in 2015, according to analysts. Since the global financial crisis, global trade has slowed significantly, growing by less than 4 percent in 2013 and 2014, well below the pre-crisis average growth of 7 percent per annum. The slowdown is partly due to weak demand and to what appears to be lower sensitivity of world trade to changes in global activity, according to the report.

Changes in global value chains and a shifting composition of import demand may have contributed to the decline in responsiveness of trade to growth.

But beef exports are on a record-breaking trend and are predicted to remain strong.

“Even before we have the final year-end numbers, it is clear that 2014 broke records for beef exports, over $6.5 billion.

We are hopeful 2015 will be a year where we continue to see trade development and movement on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP),” said Chase Adams, with National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

But despite the growth, a number of trade related issues will continue to create contention throughout the industry.

With that said, Lindsay Graber with the Livestock Marketing Association offered the best resolution for 2015: “Agriculture should resolve to come together to increase demand for our products and address perception concerns with a unified voice.” — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor

 
 


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