From paper to dashboards to digital transformation

[00:00] Welcome, everyone.

[00:15] This is MTech AGcelerate. My name is Nikolai Shchetikhin. And I have Jim Johnson with me. Hi, Jim. Hi, Nick, how are you today? I’m doing good doing good. Hope you doing well, too. And we have an important topic today to discuss, right? 

[00:31] Yeah, this is an interesting one. This is I love this one. It’s all about data analysis. And we’re going to talk a bit about the evolution of data analysis. You know, I’ve been around a few years in the industry. So I guess, you know, nobody better they speak to you about how things have evolved over the last 40 odd years. So looking forward to talking that through with you and how things are today, in a more modern poultry operation how we do data analysis. 

[00:56] yeah, data analysis is big. And it’s growing. And it’s all about reporting dashboards, graphs, charts, all that. And I was checking the social media recently. And I saw some articles there saying of claiming that dashboards are dead you know, that they are no longer needed. Nobody’s using them, or whatnot. So we’ll come to that a little bit later. But first, like you mentioned, you have a lot of experience in the industry. So maybe you could tell us a little bit how the graphs and data and all the poultry analysis has evolved throughout the years.   

[01:37] Yeah, I mean, let’s, let’s start, you know, when I was a kid starting in the poultry industry, we effectively were looking at paper and pencils. And if you were lucky, some different colored barrel pens. And house charts were critically important. They still are, I guess, to an extent today, but writing out mortalities maximum and minimum temperature profiles, water consumption was all done in a house chart. And you know, every house had the chart on the wall, it was the first thing you did after you’ve been out in the shed was to record what you’d seen and what was happening. And it was all paper and pencil. And then I guess we can moved into some computers and programs and into spreadsheets where we were gathering stuff, but we used to send a form in everyday performance for each house for their mortalities which feed consumption into the office, then it gets moved to fractured pieces of paper into the office. And then it moved, I guess, into consolidate, and that in spreadsheet files centrally. And I started to produce, you know, graphics and things from our from our head office point of view. But I mean, it’s been quite a journey, if you look at where we’ve come to know, you know, moving through into programs and business intelligence tools and stuff. Now it’s taking things quite a long way. From when I started as a 16 year old kid, with a piece of paper and a pencil in my hand. 

[03:08] You know, it’s funny enough that you saying that, you know, you worked with a pencil, and then there was this evolution. And, you know, all this fancy tools are there. When I when I started, I started of course a little bit later after you. And I think I already told the story that at the beginning, when we did the we did the planning for the for the breeder stock placements, I had to use this big roll of paper, ruler and pencil and put the placements and transfers all on that big roll of paper and put it on the wall. You know, and any change, you know, me to earase that we do it. It was it was tedious, but I agree everything is evolving, but we still see some companies that are using pen and pencil or using Excel that uh, you know, or using everything, you know, a combination of fancy dashboards and manual data collection.

[04:11] Absolutely. You know, and in poultry, it’s fundamentally important to record and to report and to and to visualize what what’s happening in each of these poultry flocks and whether that’s broilers or breeders or commercial layers. It’s important for decision making purposes to understand what’s happening in the flock. So it’s very key I think, to take the numbers and detain visualize that on a graph. Now, you know, the breed companies have been pretty good and for a long time, they’ve produced standard graphs originally on kind of A three sheets that you pinned up on a wall, and then you fill them in in terms of different colors of ink and stuff for each of the different lines whether it was feed or water or body weight or mortalities and To an extent, that’s still very much required today, because it’s not just decision making for that individual flock. It’s learning what flocks have done best. And you know what feeding programs work best? How do you manipulate egg size or body weights, and learning to make sure the next one that you place is actually better and you continually improve. And you only do that by trying to visualize what worked and what didn’t work and make corrections to the program for the next flocks. So it’s important for decision making for the flock on the ground today, but also critical to continuous improvement in any business, that you can then take the best flocks, and try and replicate that in future placements.

[05:45] Yeah, and those those reports you’re talking about, they became an industry standard, simply because they capture all the essential information that is critical to understand what’s happening with the flock. And we still see those reports pretty much everywhere they change, they adopted, you know, colors changed maybe the way they displayed or the way they recorded change. But they’re more or less the same standard reports for the industry. Because, you know, you cannot really reinvent the chicken, it’s still all about the consumption, mortality, water temperatures, and the house environment data, comparing flock to flock and comparing house to house. But the way we see it, right, so those are quite a lot of reports. And like I said, People like to pin them on the wall to see visually what’s happening, or they look at them at the dashboard type of style. But then whenever I see pen and pencil, when I see Excel spreadsheet reports with graphs, I always think that people spend more time generating those reports, keying data for those reports than they actually spend, analyzing and looking at the data and what’s actually happening with those flocks.

[07:10] Nick that is a very important point. Because over over time, you know, poultry companies have grown, they’ve got more farms, management has been thinned out because of trying to be competitive cost wise. So there’s not as much time now for people to sit down and quietly analyze performance. But they’ve got the doing the day job, they’ve a lot of farms to cover, there’s a lot of information, there’s a huge amount of numbers being collected, data being collected and reports being produced across the business. But a lot of people perhaps think that completing the daily spreadsheet, inputting the data and just that that’s where the job finishes. Of course, it doesn’t. That I mean, that’s just that just the basics, the job actually starts when you’ve got that completed information, and you have a report or a graph, and then you’re looking for someone to analyze it. And that’s where the quality time needs in terms of being analyzing that that information that’s coming through from the data. But if you think of it, nobody’s these, the industry has grown to such an extent there is not a huge amount of time open for people to study the graphs as I used to do when I was a young up and coming manager on the breeder side of the business or broilers. You can’t just lock yourself away for a couple hours. Nowadays because you’ve so much of a bigger operation to run. So that’s another challenge that you know is being faced today in real life and in in the poultry industry. All the data that’s coming through and how do we interpret it and how can we make it easier for management to to analyze data

[08:49] and I also think that the time that we have is much less is because we have more and more reports to produce you know, we need the summary report detailed report weekly report, flock report costing report you know all of those reports there those are like individual pieces in many companies spend a lot of time just copy pasting you know, moving the data around or simply retyping it but coming back to a statement that I added at the beginning that I read on the internet that dashboards are dead so and like it got me thinking why people don’t see value in something that is supposed to free their time. Right so we’ve been talking about that, you know, it’s quite time consuming and a lot of work to generate and key in all those reports. But if there is a dashboard that gives you all the data all the reports you know why they suppose to be dead. And my first thought Was that, you know, companies are collecting lots of information, they’re gathering it somewhere. And then it becomes more of IT territory to hold the data, store the data, analyze the data. And when business asks, okay, so we have all this data, generate us dashboards, and IT department generates dashboards, the way they think they would be good for the business. They try to make them colorful, easy to read, lot of data, and sometimes they just don’t serve the purpose, because they are not the same as those old standard reports that business used to look at and analyze. So that’s, that’s my thinking, what do you think?

[10:46] Yeah, I think it’s a good point, you know, I think often, we need the flocks to perform, we need to, to record that data day in day out. Regardless, we need to visualize it in terms of standard graphs and reporting tools in order to do the day job. And then it kind of can get lost as it as it goes up through an organization into dashboards. And yes, you’re right, it guys can develop all of these nice looking dashboards. And the audience they’re trying to impress, of course, is the is a senior management within the business. And they don’t necessarily need the same tools to run the organization as the guy down on the farm does, of course, so you know, and this is where you really well hooked up and aligned business running from the farm management all the way through to the boardroom, if you like in order that we have a really good flow of information, that’s well linked, and, and is relevant, and helps them manage the business and, and provides them information rather than just nice fancy colored dashboard. So it’s about creating that relevance, making sure that whole business measurement and reporting is aligned from the farm all the way through to the boardroom.  

[12:02] Yeah, I think it’s extremely valid point that every report, every tool, every dashboard should serve their purpose, and should be targeted to a particular business function or a person, right, because if you show production report to the accounting person, it will not be relevant, right. Or if you show the same report to the top person in the company that is overseen hundreds of farms, single house report doesn’t do any, you know, any difference. It’s just a simple one sample of the big data set. So I guess all of those dashboards, reports and data should give information should give insight that is appropriate to a particular job function, so that that person can make a decision if it’s a farmer. Okay, so what should I do with my flock? Is there a disease? Or maybe I should change my ventilation program or feeding program? If it’s a financial report that should show where the cost is coming from? Is there any fluctuation? Is there any problem with the cost? And if it’s a dashboard for the top executive, it should tell Okay, so where the things are happening, what is happening, where the cost where the margin, where, you know, where the best performance and how I can use this for all of my business?

[13:39] Yeah, you’re right, man, it’s still, it’s still just like, in the past, when I started as a kid in the industry, you know, it’s, it’s very relevant to, to gather the data, to report it, to graph it, to visualize it, all of that still required. And nowadays as we try to move businesses to become more digital. We cannot lose in doing that digitalization is important, we don’t lose the relevance of the basic farm, or actually information that’s required for these guys to do the job and to continue to improve every day. So it’s also about not taking away these tools from them, but actually helping to use modern reporting and tools to be able to help support them. So not just use the farm guy for data collection, but provide him something back in terms of automating these reports and graphs and making them more visual, so that he can respond to them and you know, make his life a bit easier. So he doesn’t have to sharpen that pencil every day of the week.

[14:44] Now, I agree and I guess this this is the driver behind behind what we do with our software we try to deliver this reporting, this analysis in a more simple manner. So you don’t have to retype and rekey all your all of your data multiple times, just record it once, and then you can look at it at different angles, if you want to look at the farm comparison there you go, if you want to look at the house details, yes, okay, that’s fine. If I want to look at the current flock versus previous flock, or this flock versus standard, yeah, you just need to generate this report, instead of creating it or making it because, again, I remember from the past, making reports with hands always leads to an error, you know, one extra click can ruin the formula. And then you need to start from the beginning it was terrible, I don’t want to go back at that time, I want to, I want to go, I’d rather you know, look at the colorful dashboards and be happy with that.    

[13:54] Yeah, they still have a part to play, but it’s making it relevant, isn’t it and it’s making these tools work for us and working for everyone in a business from, from the guy on the farm to the boardroom and providing them the information they need to help them do their particular job. It’s been good talking to you, Nick on this subject. I love it. Because I’ve always been into data analysis. It’s something that really interests me in particular chicken data analysis. And it’s, it’s a real subject of mine. So I’ve enjoyed the journey. And you know, we we’ve come a long ways since the day the pencil in the door sheet. But to an extent we haven’t, because you still need that basic information there and available in order to do this chicken job really well.

[16:43] Yeah, exactly. And I think we’ll need to do a little bit more on this particular topic, maybe look at some examples of how the data can be analyzed and how we can get those insights from the reports that are currently on hand. And of course, for those who want to, you know, see those episodes, please subscribe and follow us on social media. We are on LinkedIn on Instagram and on Twitter. And of course, visit our website and see you in the next episode. Okay, see you next time, Nick. Thank you, Cheers.

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