Web based services versus computer software.

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Web based services versus computer software.

Mar 16, 1999 | 16:54 1 There is an interesting article at this website (http://www.zdnet.com/sr/stories/issue/0,4537,393493,00.html) discussing web based services as opposed to computer software running on one's own PC. This seems to make a lot of sense from a business perspective, particularly in agriculture where individual producers do not have the data, expertise, or time in many cases to do meaningful analysis that contributes to the bottom line ultimately. Cow-calf record keeping and analysis for example. Web based services as discussed can provide not only more solid, meaningful analysis, but also value-added services as well such as distribution and analasys of carcass data from slaughter houses back to producers, advanced warning of potential disease problems or weather related production problems, or marketing information. Maintenance issues would also be simplified with respect to backing up data, bug fixes in software, and the release of new versions. What do others think? Is this what producers would prefer, or would they rather purchase and use their own software? Reply With Quote
Mar 29, 1999 | 17:40 2 Web or server based software has many advantages and some disadvantages. Availability of a connection that supports the type of data activity is important to consider for the end user. Distribution rights for data provided by each part of the process must be included in whatever arrangements are made. A Subscription based service supported by each segment of the industry can add value for the user and improve their business. I would suggest a more detailed discussion with representitives from producers, transportation, slaughter houses and government regulators be held. Reply With Quote
Mar 29, 1999 | 18:25 3 The other issue, especially in rural areas, is the availability of a dedicated phone line. If the user has to spend significant amounts of time on-line, as opposed to uploading and downloading files, browsing and other such activities, areas with restricted phone service would be disadvantaged. We have 2 phone lines and they're at a premium most of the time. Reply With Quote
Mar 29, 1999 | 22:12 4 I agree connection speed could be an issue. My understanding is that Telus (or is it BC Telus now?) has dedicated itself to providing ADSL throughout rural Alberta. As per the issue of data, I think it is mute. If I need Stats Canada data or many other types of data for analysis on a project, I have to purchase it and address distribution rights anyway. The same would apply to a farmer. A subscription based service on the other hand could remove a lot of the headaches of dealing with these issues for farmers or clients of other types of services, and allow him/her to focus on their business needs. Plus having been involved in agricultural software in the past, it would take away a lot of the maintenance headaches from the vendor's side as well as providing a potentially much higher level of service and more comprehensive business solution to the client. In some cases (eg precision farming) it may be the only way providing the farmer with decent analytical tools and the computing horsepower to drive them given the limitations of PCs. How would you suggest we enter into more detailed discussions with potential stakeholders? Reply With Quote
Mar 29, 1999 | 22:20 5 Hi Ted! I agree at this point in time with your comment. My understanding though is that this is going to change. Telus or BC Telus is supposed to be supplying ADSL to all of rural Alberta and ADSL allows for concurrent data and voice on the same line. You do bring up a good point however. Knowledge, particularly access to market data/information, should be equally accessible to all in a fair market. The internet is quickly becoming the choice for data/information distribution simply because of its economics versus fax or other means. What steps are we taking to make sure that everyone has equal and fair access to this information/data? Reply With Quote
Apr 5, 1999 | 14:22 6 Keith: <br> In hearing your arguement for distributed computing. I agree there are many benefits to using this form of computing. As "end users" of software packages we can afford to have capabilities placed into the software that would otherwise may not be available on stand alone software programs. <br> If we could aggregate production data on new born calves uploaded directly from the cattleman then we could begin to see potential patterns of birthing defects by diet, area, breed etc. On an standalone software program a handful of animals would not be statistically significant while across a province or an industry it would. <br> When we talk about production recordkeeping software we see a very low usage on the farm compared to farm accounting software. For many of our clients it is difficult to justify the cost. This may assist the producer to justify using a production recordkeeping program if they can use a less costly web based application with equal or greater capabilities to an off the shelf program. <br> When it comes to accounting software I fail to see how this may work. With accounting programs being tailored to the specific needs of the farm you can not download a generic package. Or you would be forced to set up items like the chart of accounts in each instance. <br> OR <br> I don't see many people wanting to store their records somewhere else especially financial data. Security and privacy on the Internet are always of concern for many people (not only farmers). I think the education process on security, viruses and financial transactions on the Internet is still a long way from being complete. <br> How do others feel about the idea of distributed computing? Either downloading software, for use on your desktop OR using a form based application that stores your data to an Internet server? <br> Great question - - thanks. Reply With Quote
Apr 5, 1999 | 14:45 7 Thanks for the comments Jory. I agree on your views regarding financial data. At the same time, I don't see much point in putting financial data into a web-based service either. Production data is where the advantages lie. An example being heads up on disease and pest problems, whether it be bangs in cattle, or insect infestations in crops. In the case of the beef industry, it could also be the basis of distributing carcass data back to cow-calf producers with value-added analysis. Reply With Quote