How big data enables greater opportunities for agribusiness

How big data enables greater opportunities for agribusiness

Data Foundation

Growing population, climate change, and increasing costs put huge pressure on the agricultural industry to continue to provide food for our planet while using fewer resources. Agribusinesses must constantly innovate to improve productivity and enhance efficiency. Over the last decade, a boom in technology has enabled the agricultural sector to step up to the challenge by going digital.

The increase in digital technology has the potential to further drive greater efficiency and productivity, but it also creates a mountain of data. This is what is known as big data.

Many organisations are overwhelmed by this volume of data. But big data has the potential to be of great value – you just have to know how to use it.

When data gets too big

Big data refers to the massive amount of data created by the increase in the Internet of Things (IoT), smart machinery, sensors, smart meters, and various individual internal and external data sources all leveraged in the production of goods and services.

From rural producers right through to retail, are all-seeing and implementing new IoT technology which provides valuable data but is only truly useful if correctly presented for quick oversight.

Around the globe, major industry bodies and producer funded research organisations are backing technology R&D to advance the industry forward whilst reducing costs and creating more sustainable practices. This means the development of even better technological advances is on the way – delivering even more data. 

For many agribusinesses, it’s just too much.

Dealing with big data often results in a time-consuming and costly reporting process. It creates silos of data that make it nearly impossible to collate. Individuals or Departments work from different data sources. Data security can become a problem if not correctly protected. This creates a perfect storm for errors to be easily introduced, leading to inaccurate decisions that cost you money.

Big data can create problems, or it can revolutionise your agribusiness. It’s all in how you use it.

Data Foundation

The potential for big data in agriculture

Agriculture used to be largely driven by gut instinct. Today, technology like IoTs enable greater visibility and oversight of operations, reducing uncertainties and enabling decisions to be data-driven.

The benefits cannot be underestimated. The FAO estimates that every year, ⅓ of the food produced for human consumption is wasted or lost. Using big data to revolutionise agricultural processes is necessary to create more efficiency to help battle the food crisis.

Big data can drive smart decisions and better outcomes in agriculture like:

  • Improved yields from data insights on weather patterns, soil temperature, fertiliser requirements, and more
  • Efficient use of pesticides and sprays – know how much to use without overdoing it
  • Maintain farm equipment with data that predict maintenance requirements and fuel use
  • Optimise your supply chain for efficiency
  • Remote monitoring of crop and livestock health
  • Increased profitability through enhanced efficiency and productivity

To reap the benefits of big data, you need a big data strategy to manage how you gather, share, and use your data. A data strategy considers your business goals and all the data available to you to find out which data is useful. Then, automated reporting delivers just the relevant insights.  

To take big data to the next level, you need Decision Intelligence.

Data Foundation

How Decision Intelligence accelerates operation performance with big data

Decision Intelligence (DI) turns your complex data into something that makes perfect sense. With a DI solution, you no longer need to worry about sorting through data and organising reports or even reading them – instead, data-driven insights are delivered to you, so you can act.

A DI solution combines human decision-makers with Business Intelligence and Machine Learning. All your data sources are collected and stored in one secure cloud-based location. The data is analysed and presented to you in a visual dashboard. From there, farmers and growers can make data-driven decisions. The result is higher yields at lower costs.

At Toustone, we have the know-how and the tech to put effective insights at your fingertips. We break down the mountain of data into fully automated and intuitive dashboards so you can easily see exactly what is going on in real-time. This abundance of data allows agribusinesses to accelerate the performance of their operations by having the information they need to create meaningful changes. 

A DI solution will:

  • Remove the manual reporting process
  • Stop data silos from forming
  • Ensure the security of your data
  • Create a single source of truth
  • Put predictive insights at your fingertips
  • Inject confidence into the decision-making process
  • Make sense of big data!

Any agribusiness can make the most out of the data they already have with a DI solution. Our team is ready and waiting to guide your agribusiness to a DI solution that puts big data to work for you.

Want to see how Toustone helped a leading corporate farmer enhance their on-farm efficiencies with Decision Intelligence? Read our case study on Lawson Grains.

“Working with Toustone has been great. They have been able to effectively capture information off multiple platforms and automate it. The solution has definitely made the backend of the office more efficient by getting all that data into one spot. Their personal insight continues to provide different ways to look at the data and get more out of it.”

Mat Well, Business Systems Analyst at Lawson Grains

How to build a solid data foundation for effective insights

How to build a solid data foundation for effective insights

Data Foundation

You can be sitting on a gold mine of data but if you don’t know how to extract its value, you’re wasting one of your organisation’s biggest assets!

The key to turning data into effective insights is building a solid data foundation. This means knowing which data will help you achieve your goals and how to orchestrate that data into a central hub for effective, intuitive reporting.

Building a solid data foundation ensures your data is accurate and useful. It clears the roadblocks to efficiency by creating a single source of truth. Then the final components of a Decision Intelligence (DI) solution can be implemented to automate reporting and deliver insights that drive better business outcomes.

At Toustone, we do all the hard work to enable rapid data-driven decision-making at every level of your organisation and to ensure optimal efficiency and productivity. It all starts with building a data foundation. Here’s how we work with you to achieve it!

Start with a clear vision

You need a clear vision of what you want to achieve with your data. This will enable us to determine which data sources are required to achieve your organisation’s analytic endgame.

Start by defining your desired outcomes. What exactly does your business need now, and for the future? Once your sights are set, create goals and metrics to measure your progress. This will determine which data sources and key pieces of quantified information are core to your reporting to create distinct and intuitive insights without any unnecessary distractions.

Gathering all your data sources is a critical step to supporting your vision. Many organisations still rely a manual reporting process that indirectly creates data silos, where one group holds information that is inaccessible to others or requires significant manual work in collating and producing for others. Pulling all sources together will enable your organisation to move to the next step and remove those silos while bringing everyone together to work towards common goals.

Organising your data sources enables a strategic data analytic approach to help you consistently achieve KPIs and ROI. Our team will orchestrate your data specific to your requirements to enable your vision and goals to be achieved.

Data Foundation

Work from a single source of truth

Your organisation’s vision is defined and the necessary data sources are identified. Now it’s time to centralise your data to create a single source of truth.

With all data in one cloud-based location, everyone works from the same information. All reporting is connected for easy access and deeper analysis between data sets. Your staff can easily compare how various functions affect your P&L reports and know what action to take to enhance efficiency and productivity.

Real-time information at your fingertips means your organisation can act with agility. You – and your staff – can make data-driven decisions based on clear, accurate insights without searching through manual reports and spreadsheets. A single source of truth means data can be accessed from anywhere, at any time, enabling quick and proactive decision-making.

Hosting your data in one secure cloud location enhances data security and governance. You have complete control over who accesses what information. When your entire staff have access to the data they need and nothing more, they work more efficiently and effectively.

Automate reporting to save time and money

When all your data sources are connected, reporting is automated to deliver easy-to-use visual reports. Instead of sifting through data and generating reports, you are presented with clear insights to drive better decision-making.

This is your competitive edge – a tailored cloud data model that connects all data sources, processes in real-time, and delivers automated visual reports to you and your specific role!

Hours previously spent generating and analysing reports can now be put towards actionable decisions. Accelerating your data processing will enable KPIs to be achieved consistently. Your team can work more autonomously, without requiring data confirmation and management direction.

Data Foundation

Confident, data-driven decisions for better business outcomes

This is how we create a solid and secure data foundation on which all decisions are based. A reliable data foundation injects confidence into your staff to make decisions that create better business outcomes. Less time spent build reports and waiting for management confirmation, more time for action.

This is the first phase of creating a Decision Intelligence solution. Next up we’ll go over data storytelling and how machine learning generates predictive capabilities to give you a competitive edge.

Decision Intelligence (DI) combines human decision making with Business Intelligence and Machine Learning to make better decisions – tailored to your business requirements, to accelerate your performance. If you’re curious to see how Toustone can implement a DI solution to impact your business, get in touch today. 

Decision Intelligence: Practical Application and Benefits for Transportation

Decision Intelligence: Practical Application and Benefits for Transportation

Smart Farm: What you need to know

In a previous article, we discussed how Decision Intelligence (DI) has evolved from Business Intelligence to deliver more effective decisions and better business outcomes. In short, DI combines the decision-making process with BI and machine learning to enable higher quality, faster decision-making with less effort.

Organisations in the Transportation industry stand to make major gains by implementing a DI solution. From performance and maintenance to managing delays, a DI solution gives a real-time overview of the entire organisation that allows your staff to make rapid, confident decisions. 

But taking complex data and making it usable is a major hurdle for many organisations. Often, business owners aren’t even aware that there is a better, easier way to streamline their data to get the most out of it. This is where Toustone’s DI solution steps in to offer any organisation a more efficient system to enable more effective decision-making.

Here, we share how our DI solution benefits Transportation, along with potential directions for the industry to grow in future. 

Practical application of DI in Transportation

The first challenge many transportation organisations face is around service delivery reporting. This process relies heavily on manual and labour-intensive methods requiring time and effort in data entry.

Implementing a DI solution will take complex data from all operational data sources and automate the reporting into a visual dashboard. To do this, first we must create a solid data foundation so there is only one source of truth and fully automated reports. This will allow for the centralisation of all reports for easy and secure access and removal of the manual reporting process.

Now, data sources can be integrated into one automated dashboard for an accurate overview of the entire organisation. This reduces the labour previously required to manually process data and create reports, saving time and money. It also reduces the risk of errors due to manual processing and eliminates duplicate reporting. This also means the entire team now has a real-time overview of operations, instead of working from out of date data.

Next is Data Storytelling. Visual dashboards and reports create a data story, displaying overall performance and trends that can be drilled down to a single key performance metric. This enables rapid and specific targeting of issues. For instance within the Train industry, if a train’s efficiency is hampered by a door that is taking too long to open or close, the operator is able to quickly identify which door is the problem and take action to remedy it. This puts information into the hands of the decision-makers in real-time for fast resolution.

Executing this effectively will enable your organisation to reduce the manual reporting process and enable your team to make more efficient decisions without requiring data confirmation and management direction. So not only does this process enable effective insight, it creates a data-driven work environment that injects confidence into your staff to make decisions that create better business outcomes.

Potential for future development with DI in Transportation

The final part of a Toustone Decision Intelligence solution utilises Machine Learning. DI enables your team to better prepare for or correct an error before it has a financial impact. You are no longer just focusing on being up to date on your daily operations, you are now looking ahead to improve and adapt to future outcomes before they happen.

A key aspect of DI is that machines do the learning for you, saving you the time of gathering and assessing data and compiling reports. Instead, insights are delivered to you so you can focus on taking action. No need to be a data scientist!

Now, not every organisation has the in-house capabilities to forecast future events accurately, but your organisation can with Toustone’s Decision Intelligence solution in place! For Train Operators, DI with machine learning can give advance notice of upcoming train maintenance from predictive analysis on power lines, rail heads, and general wear and tear of assets.

These intelligent models will continue to improve over time, learning as more data is processed to make better predictions and even enable some decisions to become automated.

Better decisions through better data

Gartner predicts that by 2023 over ⅓ of large organisations will have analysts that practice Decision Intelligence. It is the next step in the evolution of Business Intelligence. DI will allow businesses to respond to new developments and adapt to shifting consumer demands in real-time. 

By applying AI and machine learning to decision-making, large amounts of fast-moving data can be analysed quickly, with relevant real-time data presented to the user. This will help any organisation make better, faster, and more consistent decisions.

 At Toustone, we are the data experts. Not only do we have decades of experience but we have a passionate team who love turning complex data into something that just makes sense. Our solutions can help any organisation – large or small – make better decisions for better business outcomes.

Our goal is to enable your organisation to be data-driven. If you’re curious to see how Toustone can implement a DI solution to impact your business, get in touch today.   

Industry 4.0 to 5.0: What it means for Meat Processors and Manufactures

Industry 4.0 to 5.0: What it means for Meat Processors and Manufactures

Smart Farm: What you need to know

Wondering what Industry 4.0 and 5.0 is all about? We’re here to explain.

Currently, we are living in the 4th industrial revolution – Industry 4.0. This is the age of information technology (IT), machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI). Industry 4.0 brought about the autonomous exchange of data among smart machines without the need for human intervention. Organisations benefit from the data retrieved and analysed by smart technology and the delivery of actionable insights for better decision-making.

But at the same time, we are already transitioning into Industry 5.0. What changes will this bring? Most importantly, what does your organisation need to do to stay ahead?

Industry 4.0 is here and now

Industry 4.0 is about connectivity to enhance efficiency and productivity. It has given us AI and ML, along with cloud-based computing and the Internet of Things (IoT). These technologies have created networks of smart sensors that communicate with each other rapidly and feed data back to us. It has allowed for the development of smart robots to take over menial tasks previously done by humans, freeing up human intelligence to focus on more advanced tasks.

What Industry 4.0 has in turn created is big data – large amounts of up-to-date data that is available at our fingertips, and growing every day due to continuing advances in ML and AI. This massive influx of data requires more advanced analytics capabilities than ever before. We touched on this topic in our article on Smart Farms and how this influx can create new challenges to overcome. 

This is where Business Intelligence (BI) systems come in. Thanks to BI, we can receive all of this advanced data via automated, real-time reporting. BI is the driving technology that organises and analyses large amounts of data, delivering actionable insights that simplify the decision-making process for business leaders.  

What this all means is that in Industry 4.0 we have the ability to harness the technology that drives data-driven decision-making for any organisation’s growth and advancement.

Organisations go through what we call a data maturity curve, where they move from working manually with Excel reports at the base level, all the way through to a Decision Intelligence solution. Each phase drastically improves upon the next, and it is critical to progress through the phases consecutively to build on the previous foundations.

Smart Farm: What you need to know

Industry 5.0 balances tech with human input

What Industry 5.0 introduces is a greater collaboration between humans and machines. 

Industry 4.0 is currently giving us the technology and machine power to make incredible advancements in meat processing and manufacturing. We can improve our workflow processes and maximise productivity and efficiency. ML and AI have freed up more time for humans to focus on the bigger picture by automating menial tasks. 

Industry 5.0 is the next step forward, with greater human interaction with machines in order to apply human creativity and critical thinking to machine output. It’s 4.0 with a human touch, perfectly balancing modern tech with human input. 

Some fear that machines will replace humans as workers, but that is the opposite of what Industry 5.0 is about. It is about a synergistic relationship that utilises the efficiency of machines but relies on humans to oversee and make critical decisions. Machines cannot replicate human judgment and empathy, nor the ability to shift from short-term to long-term thinking.

Machines plus human workers provide endless opportunities for businesses that take advantage of the advances. Robots will become “cobots” (“co” for collaboration), safely working alongside humans while intelligently learning about their environment to continually adapt. Manufacturing and Meat Production constantly become smarter processes. 

Even Elon Musk admitted that excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake, and that “humans are underrated.” The speed and consistency of robots increase productivity, but the human skills of creativity and critical thinking are necessary components of a collaborative manufacturing relationship to maximise productivity. 

So are BI systems ready to keep pace with Industry 5.0? BI itself is undergoing a concurrent evolution as Business Intelligence evolves into Decision Intelligence (DI).

Smart Farm: What you need to know

How can your business adapt?

What exactly is DI? Much as the evolution from Industry 4.0 to 5.0 involves greater collaboration between humans and machines, the evolution of BI to DI combines human decision making with Business Intelligence and Machine Learning.

DI relies on AI and ML to learn and improve upon decision-making models to optimise decision-making. This enables some decisions to become automated while providing humans with precise insights to make higher quality, faster decisions for those that require human input. DI provides the technology necessary for humans to utilise the mountain of available data effectively to drive better decision-making and thus better business outcomes.

In short, DI is the link between human decision-makers and machine learning. It makes sense of all of the data provided from a BI system, giving your organisation actionable insights gathered from AI- and ML-generated data.

Decision Intelligence is critical to Industry 5.0

If this is all overwhelming, let us put your mind at ease. The beauty of DI is that you don’t have to understand how any of it works.

A DI system provides your organisation with all of the technological tools needed to help you achieve the best outcomes. DI assesses data along with the chain of cause and effects of decisions for you. You can then implement the right decisions at the right time to enhance productivity and efficiency while decreasing costs. 

Basically, you don’t have to worry about the process. The end results are delivered to you so that you can make higher quality, faster decisions with less effort.

Summary: We make it easy for you

To sum up, Industry 4.0 looks to connect and centralise all the data sources within the manufacturing process for improved analytic decision-making, and Industry 5.0 creates a coexisting relationship between humans and machinery to further improve the capabilities of the organisation.

DI is the key to unlock these capabilities. The team at Toustone are experts in DI and ready to bring your organisation up to speed with Industry 4.0 and prepare you for Industry 5.0, no matter where you are at currently. We are passionate about leveraging DI to improve the processes of any size business no matter how large or small.

You don’t have to be a data scientist – that’s what we are here for. Contact our team today to see how a DI system can help your manufacturing business access data-driven insights to make better business decisions.

Smart Farms: What you need to know

Smart Farms: What you need to know

Smart Farm: What you need to know

The future of Australia’s agriculture is in smart farms.

Australia is the second-largest agricultural area in the world, after China. We have over 85,000 farms using 372 million hectares of land and 9.2 million megalitres of water. In FY 2018-2019, the gross value of Australian agriculture was more than $62 billion. The National Farmers’ Federation has set a daunting vision for that number to reach $100 billion in 2030.

As we’ve seen in the past, mother nature will always throw curveballs. But by connecting the physical world with the digital, you can develop a better understanding of your farm operations to improve efficiencies, drive better decisions, and predict what’s coming next. It is the piece of the puzzle required to move Australia into the future of agriculture while reducing the environmental impact.

If you’re curious about how smart farms and Decision Intelligence will pave the way for growth in agriculture, read on.

What Is A Smart Farm?

Smart farms use the latest technology and data analytics to optimise agricultural practices. Sensors, drones, autonomous vehicles, machinery data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) combine to enhance the overall understanding of operations and identify areas to reduce costs, improve yield and quality, and forecast what’s to come.

One critical tool for smart farms is the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT refers to all of the sensors on the farm that communicate with each other wirelessly via the internet. Using internet connections means farms can be remotely monitored. Equipment, water management, weather events, crop diseases, soil requirements – all of it can be tracked in a dashboard and viewed from any device, anywhere at any time.

Using IoT technology enables automation and more autonomous activities in day-to-day operations. For example, soil sensors track moisture levels and soil health to predict diseases. Drones diagnose crop diseases and measure water and nitrogen levels. Livestock sensors monitor health and fertility. According to KPMG, every farm should be connected to the IoT by 2030. This technology enables total oversight of daily operations, improving operational efficiency without having to be at the physical location or even in the same country! 

Lack of internet access is the biggest obstacle for Australia’s agriculture industry to go digital, and the future of farm telecommunications is changing to improve farm connectivity.

“Getting these devices to talk to each other and provide real-time information in a central dashboard at the farmer’s home or office will require connectivity on a scale never seen before, and will undoubtedly involve different interfaces, methods and systems that are not always seamlessly compatible,” says Sami Makelainen, Technology Insights Manager, CTO Strategic Planning and Foresight, Telstra. “The benefits though, once successfully done, will be game changing for Australian farmers.”

Smart Farms + Decision Intelligence = Maximum Impact

Introducing IoT devices into your farm allows you better visibility and management of your operations. With this new technology comes vast volumes of data which, when utilised correctly, can provide additional benefits and insights to your farm operations and profitability. The challenge lies with how to manage these large volumes of data, also referred to as big data. Without a strategy in place, this big data becomes siloed across the different devices with no data relationships and correlation being identified and exploited for their value. 

This is where a Decision Intelligence (DI) solution comes in to connect, automate and analyse the data to provide you with actionable insights without being a data scientist. Forget organising and reading reports. Smart farms can operate from one DI dashboard that connects and presents all of the information and insights you need to make the best decisions. The beauty of DI coupled with smart farming is that it removes that risk of building silos of data across your farm which ensures you are always working with the right information on hand.

“Data delivered by digital technology coupled with advanced analytics are a game-changer for Australian farmers to push the boundaries of performance.”
KPMG & National Farmer Federation,
Talking 2030 (2018)

Using IoT technology puts a lot of data at your fingertips, but you also need DI to know what to do with it. Manual handling of data is time-consuming and jeopardises the integrity and reliability of your data. It is too easy to accidentally copy and paste a number incorrectly, throwing off all of your results. DI eliminates the risk of these errors and delivers data-driven insights instead of just data.

The Future of Farming is Now

Smart farms use IoTs to connect every aspect of farming, from soil and crop health to best animal farming practices and weather conditions. Decision Intelligence connects all those IoT devices with any other relevant data sources into one secure location, then analyses and presents that information into an easy to use dashboard.

Farmers don’t have to waste their time analysing reports or stress about whether they are making the right decisions. A DI solution makes it easy by presenting actionable insights for the farmer to make data-driven decisions. The time and resources saved along with continual efficiency enhancements drive higher yields at lower costs.

Smart farming resources are available and are being used now. Toustone has developed a ready-to-implement Agri DI solution to connect all of your data points without the need to change any of your current platforms or devices. If you’re ready to implement smart farming on your farm, get in touch with the team at Toustone today.

What if Santa partnered with a DI company?

What if Santa partnered with a DI company?

Smart Farm: What you need to know

Santa’s a busy guy – the whole year rests on getting one night right.

Santa has a lot on his plate. He has to manage the production of millions of different gifts every year! Analysing the ever-expanding naughty and nice list, wish list and delivery locations whilst ensuring his elves are maintaining an efficient work environment.

What if Santa decided to level up his operations by becoming more data-driven to create a more productive work environment – where would he start?

1. Define and identify

If we were working with Santa on this project, we’d begin by defining with him his operations data-driven objectives and identify the relevant data sources required to achieve these. This is the beginning of shaping Santa’s data-driven culture so it can be adopted within his operations. Here, Santa has to lead by example. For the elves to effectively adopt this new approach within their manufacturing process, Santa has to be clear and precise on what he wants to achieve.

2. Build a solid foundation

Once we know what reporting Santa needs to keep his operation in check, we go about extracting, transforming and loading his data into a secure data warehouse. This is the most crucial part of the process – setting a solid data foundation that is aligned to his operations. This step is crucial to streamlining the reporting process to make those meaningful decisions, getting this part right means the success of the project!

This foundation has to be secure too, we don’t want anyone from the naughty list changing their category so by utilising the cloud we can give Santa complete governance over who can access what list and also allows him to access reports where ever he may be in the world.

3. Maintain the data-driven culture

Adopting a new process takes time so maintaining motivation is key for successful adoption. Remember the elves have been doing the same process for years now so a new way of doing things may come as a shock! Santa needs to be ready to listen and respond to the team if they have any issues.

4. Make informed decisions

Presentation is everything, especially for tracking presents! We’d create a clear, automated visual reporting dashboard to make Santa’s data come to life. It would seem like magic, even to Santa. This removes the manual handling of data that took days to produce reports – which were outdated by the time they were produced – allowing for more reliable and accurate information to inform his decisions.


Santa is now working off a real-time dashboard that displays the information that is relevant to him. He can now make more informed decisions that yield the best outcome for his operations. The elves have moved from manually producing reports to working of automated reports that assist them in refining their manufacturing process to produce more gifts and make more time to look after the reindeer. 

Santa has a lot of data but these-days, managing large volumes of data is easy when you have a foundation in place to support your data-driven goals. So Santa, if you reading this – contact us today if you’re interested in discussing how your organisation can benefit from being data-driven.