Future Directions for Agriculture through Information Technology

Disruption Essay
Weighting: 30%
Length: 2,000 words Equivalent (+/- 10%)
Details
This task requires you to write an essay exploring “future business directions, enabled through the use of IT, for a major industry in your region/state/country” (2,000 words maximum, excluding title page, references and appendix). Your essay will be marked using the criteria in this rubric, and an explanation of your grades is found here.
Before you begin, you should familiarise yourself with:
1. Read this exemplar of an essay and watch this video describing the assignment.
2. You should have roughly 4 peer-reviewed journal references per 500 words from the CQU library (general web sites are not academic sources). HBR articles are a teaching tool and are not peer-reviewed and should be used sparingly to support your argument.
3. Library support services (such as instructional videos, Library Help Guides and FAQs for accessing resources and referencing) and BeDifferent Support services.
4. Using automated references by booking a librarian, installing endnote, using endnote.
Task Description
You will write an essay (maximum 2,000 words, excluding title page, references, and appendix) exploring “future business directions, enabled through the use of IT, for a major industry in your region/state/country”. Major industries you may consider include, but are not limited to business, health, education, and agriculture.
It is tempting to believe that disruption only occurs in large markets such as the United States, an obvious powerhouse of innovation. But disruption is happening all over the globe, and businesses need to constantly change direction to take advantage of changes in the business environment.
You are to write an essay exploring future business directions for a local business that operates within a significant industry in your area (local, state, or national). You can use ABS Data, IBIS World Industry Reports and IBIS World Company Research to help you pick a business/sector to examine or you can pick a business/sector that you have experience with.
You will need to argue why your choice of business direction/s are the most important by addressing the following points in the presentation and analysis of your essay.
The structure of your essay should be set out as follows:
Title page: Please use the MBA Leadership title page including the title of your assessment, your name, student ID number, and unit name and code.
Introduction: Provide some background information on your chosen business and outline how they are currently using creative processes, innovation, and the spirit of entrepreneurship.
Body of essay:
• Provide an overview of the current key trends and challenges facing the chosen business and the industry in which it operates.
• Provide an in-depth analysis to argue how the use of IT can further help the chosen business to innovate their product or service development. Use additional sources of information to help support your argument.
• Critically evaluate the viability (pros and cons) of the proposed use of IT in your chosen business. For example, you may wish to comment on the benefits of the use of IT as well as the cost, time, and other additional resources needed.
Conclusion: Summarise the key ideas/arguments of your essay.
Evidence of research and referencing: Provide a list of references from peer-reviewed journal articles, textbooks, government reports, and authentic internet sources. Referencing should follow the APA style (7th ed).

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Task conditions
1. Essays are marked on how well the specific requirements are achieved in accordance with the assessment criteria in the rubric.
2. Essays must be submitted in PDF format (.PDF). Note that in Microsoft Word you can save as PDF. Remember to keep a copy of your work.
3. Essays must follow the APA 7th edition referencing style as specified in the APA abridged guide available from CQUniversity’s referencing guides page. For missing DOI’s click here and press ‘search metadata’. 4 peer-reviewed journal articles per 500 words is recommended.

Future Directions for Agriculture through Information Technology
Introduction
Agriculture has long been a backbone industry for the state economy. However, like many traditional industries, agriculture faces challenges from changing consumer demands, environmental pressures, and new technologies that disrupt existing business models. This paper will explore how information technology can help enable future innovation and growth for the agriculture industry in our state. Specifically, it will analyze trends in precision agriculture, supply chain management technologies, and new forms of direct-to-consumer marketing that utilize digital platforms. By embracing information technology, farmers and agricultural businesses can develop more sustainable and profitable operations that are well-positioned for the future.
Current Trends and Challenges in Agriculture
Several key trends are impacting the agriculture industry. Consumer demand is shifting towards more locally-sourced, organic, and transparent products (USDA, 2019). At the same time, farmers face rising input costs, climate change impacts like drought, and pressure to adopt more environmentally-friendly practices (IBISWorld, 2022). Information technology offers solutions that can help address these challenges. Precision agriculture technologies allow for more targeted application of seeds, water, and chemicals, reducing waste and environmental impacts (USDA, 2019). Sensors, drones, and software analyze field conditions and yield data to help farmers optimize operations in real-time (IBISWorld, 2022). However, adoption of these technologies remains limited, with only 30% of farms currently using precision agriculture systems (USDA, 2019). Barriers include high upfront costs and a lack of technical skills among some farmers (IBISWorld, 2022).
Enabling Innovation through IT
Information technology can further drive innovation across the agriculture value chain. Blockchain technology shows promise for improving supply chain transparency and traceability by recording production and transport details at each step (IBM, 2018). This allows consumers to access detailed product histories with a scan of a QR code. It also helps farmers command premium prices for verified sustainable or local products. Several pilot projects are already underway applying blockchain to track shipments of fresh produce and meat between farms, processors, and stores (IBM, 2018). Widespread adoption of blockchain standards could revolutionize agriculture supply chains.
Another area ripe for disruption is direct marketing. Traditionally limited to farmers markets and CSAs, new digital platforms now enable farmers to sell products online and arrange home deliveries or pickups (USDA, 2019). Services like FarmLink and Good Eggs aggregate products from multiple local farms for online shopping (FarmLink, 2022; Good Eggs, 2022). This expands customer reach into urban and suburban areas while providing alternative revenue streams for farmers. Some innovative producers even livestream farm tours or process overviews on social media to foster deeper connections with consumers and promote brand loyalty (USDA, 2019). Information technologies open new direct-to-consumer distribution channels that can boost farm incomes and rural economies.
Critique and Analysis
While information technology holds promise, there are also challenges to consider with adopting new systems and business models. Upfront hardware, software, and training costs associated with precision agriculture and supply chain technologies present a barrier for some smaller farms (IBISWorld, 2022). Technical difficulties and learning curves may also slow initial adoption (USDA, 2019). However, many experts argue the long-term savings on inputs and improved yields outweigh implementation costs (IBISWorld, 2022). Government grant and education programs can help reduce barriers as these technologies mature and prices decline.
Direct-to-consumer marketing also requires investments of time and money to develop online ordering systems, manage fulfillment and delivery logistics, and market products through social media (USDA, 2019). This business model shift may not be suitable or scalable for all commodity crop producers. However, for specialty product farms and producers located near major population centers, the ability to access new urban consumer markets could significantly boost revenues and viability. Overall, information technology presents both opportunities and challenges for agriculture that require strategic planning and adaptation to fully leverage.
Conclusion

In conclusion, the agriculture industry in our state and region faces pressures from changing consumer demands, environmental sustainability issues, and disruptive technologies. However, by thoughtfully embracing information technologies like precision agriculture, supply chain management tools, and direct-to-consumer digital platforms, farmers and agricultural businesses can develop more innovative, transparent, and profitable operations. This allows them to better serve 21st century consumers while ensuring the long-term viability of local agriculture and rural communities. With strategic investment and adaptation, information technology holds great potential to drive the future growth and sustainability of this vital industry.
References
FarmLink. (2022). Our mission. https://www.farmlinkproject.com
Good Eggs. (2022). About us. https://about.goodeggs.com/
IBISWorld. (2022). Agriculture in the US. https://www.ibisworld.com/united-states/market-research-reports/agriculture-industry/
IBM. (2018). Blockchain for agriculture and food. https://www.ibm.com/topics/blockchain-for-agriculture
USDA. (2019). Agriculture and the digital revolution. https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2019/12/17/agriculture-and-digital-revolution

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