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By MaryBeth Matzek
MAA Editor
MADISON, Wis.  – Farmers need to be ready for the emerging technologies that will transform their industry in the years to come, according to futurist Jack Uldrich, who spoke during the third annual Dairy Strong 2017: The Journey Forward conference, which was held Jan. 18-19 at the Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center.
“You need to future-proof your business and be aware of the extraordinary change that will be happening before your eyes,” said Uldrich, best-selling author of “Jump The Curve” and other books. “You may think some of this stuff is a long way off, but it will be here closer than you think.”
Technology changes are happening exponentially, said Uldrich, using cellphone technology to illustrate his point. “A farmer in Africa with a smartphone has more information at his fingertips than (Bill) Clinton did as president,” he said.

While Uldrich addressed farmers, what he said could be applied to any industry, he said. The Internet is just 20 years old and its delivery system has gone from slow dial-up connections on desktop computers to having information delivered via 4G to wearable devices. 
Augmented reality will also play a growing role for farmers, Uldrich said. For example, consumers will be able to see a product on the shelf in the grocery store and learn everything about it such as the farm’s sustainability practices and its product’s carbon footprint.  “All of this means more change for your farm,” he said.
Humility is one way to combat such rapid change, Uldrich said. Farmers need to realize and accept they don’t have the answers, he said. 
“Get a reverse mentor – go to someone younger and ask them about their ideas and thoughts,” Uldrich said. “They give us a different view and perspective and help us plan for what may be next.”
Uldrich advised farmers to take time to think about the future. While he likes to tell business owners to take a week, that’s not realistic for farmers so Uldrich advised even taking an hour to think about what lies ahead.
“Your world, your business is going to change and if you do not pick up on it, you’ll be stuck and unable to grow and move forward,” Uldrich said.
 


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