Can you run away from your destiny?

Farming had always been the path for my family; that is until I broke the circle when I moved to the city to study engineering. I always keep high respect for farmers and their hard work, but I have left this part of my life well behind me. Or so I thought.
As soon as I joined EXUS, I was asked to work on DataBio, a European project on Big Data in bio-economy. My first reaction was pure surprise: “What is EXUS doing in an agriculture project?”. To be fair, I knew that EXUS has expertise in the field of data analytics and that Big Data analytics aim to extract value out of all this raw information collected from connected devices every day. But I never thought that EXUS could create value for… my dad!
Farm machines, fishing vessels and forestry machinery are all equipped with high-tech sensors that constantly collect information, such as soil content and temperature status. The combination of this information with Earth monitoring data creates a huge dataset that can be the key to unlock the potential for bio-economy. Of course, nothing can be achieved without the right tools and this is where the EXUS Analytics Framework (EAF) comes into play. EAF facilitates analytics functions for batch and streaming data, along with privacy-preserving processes that allows for the analysis of sensitive data.
Fast forward one year into the project, we are in the process of designing a Big Data platform for agriculture, forestry and fishery, combining the diverse knowledge of technology partners (on predictive and real-time analytics, as well as Earth observation and geospatial data) and end-users, including tractor manufacturers, private forest owners and maritime companies. After several discussions with the end-users, it became clear that EAF could provide value not only to agriculture, but also fishery pilots. Vice versa, the pilots provided EXUS with added value to enhance EAF with new modeling capabilities for predictive analytics. But this has not come easy, which makes sense if you consider that fact that the project consists of 48 partners from 17 countries!
It is always challenging to find added value in such huge projects. Finding your position in the project is hard enough, let alone extract value for your company. But we have found our way and there are a few key lessons learnt:
  • Identify early on the right people to work with. The more partners, the more opportunities to find valuable collaborations. Study the partner profiles, identify any potential synergies and see them through.
  • Take initiative. Do not wait for others to take action. Just do it.
  • Follow up. If you agree on certain actions, do not let it go. Distribute the task list and schedule a follow-up teleconference.
  • Make the best out of the available collaboration tools. Create a common repository for document sharing, set up mailing lists for information sharing and use a teleconference tool that works for everyone, no matter what platform they are using.
  • Keep overhead low. Do not send everything to everyone. Individual emails always work better than a generic email sent on a mailing list with dozens of recipients.
And I am sure that you will end up with valuable outcomes, even in fields that you cannot imagine right now!
And I am sure that you will end up with valuable outcomes, even in fields that you cannot not imagine right now!

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