Below is our recent interview with Mark Pryor, Chairman and CEO at The Seam:
Q: How did The Seam get its start?
A: The Seam was founded by leading global agribusinesses and specializes in software development for commodity trading and management systems. In December 2000, it began operating the world’s first online, anonymous exchange for cotton trading. Since that time, the company has leveraged its software and development expertise in agriculture to expand into other commodity segments, including peanuts, grains and dairy. The Seam is a proven leader in the agritech space, having cleared or processed more than $8 billion through its platforms, and recently launched innovative business intelligence tools for peanut producers and handlers.
Q: The company recently announced its formation of the Cotton Technology Alliance; could you tell us something more?
A: The Cotton Technology Alliance was formed in order to develop data standards in the cotton industry. To bring much needed efficiency throughout the global cotton supply chain, we must interoperate between our respective systems, Data standards and modern technology play a critical role, and the cotton industry stands to benefit tremendously with a collaborative focus in this area.
In order to establish industry standards, leaders in agritech need a neutral forum to collaborate, discuss and contribute ideas that will move the process forward, and ultimately create a system that utilizes diverse, but cooperative solutions in the cotton supply chain. The Cotton Technology Alliance provides this platform and meets the needs of growing cotton industry initiatives.
Q: How can the IoT provide greater value to the agriculture industry as a whole?
A: The IoT provides sustainable, connective solutions to the growing demands in the farming industry. Utilizing technology for precision agriculture is becoming the only option. The interconnectedness of agritech and the IoT allows farmers to leverage one another to gain access to new markets, or to expand capabilities and efficiencies, while software and hardware developers work with their competition to establish systems or standards that all can then build upon. To keep up with the demands of a growing population, farmers must embrace technology and one another. The IoT is the avenue through which all of these factors stay connected, encouraging both competition and cooperation in the industry.
A primary example of this model is The Seam’s initiative to bring blockchain technology to the commodities market. In the case of blockchain for commodities, this cooperation is easy to explain: The only way these markets can make the transition to a decentralized environment – and make it a true transformation of the industry – is to do it together. Everyone stands to benefit, even though they may compete with each other. Cooperation among competitors is also known as coopetition. Adopting a model of coopetition to advance agritech and the IoT will ensure a sustainable future.
Q: What is a significant challenge you’ve faced in this industry, and how did you overcome it?
A: The farming industry is behind the curve in regard to data standards. The cotton industry, in particular, has long been a paper-based operation, in a way that is quickly becoming archaic, and eventually, it will become obsolete. It is becoming more important to pull in leaders in technology to work alongside farmers in order to keep up with the digital world. Without set data standards, the information gets lost in translation, or requires more attention/time than necessary to maintain a functional system.
Just as businesses rely on instant, meaningful data for making sound decisions, so do farmers. The Seam’s goal is to integrate agriculture and technology to mold the industry into a space where farmers can be farmers and developers can be developers.
Q: Tell us more about your solutions?
A: The Seam’s technology provides the insights needed to quickly adjust practices in real-time in order to increase efficiency and value, thereby saving time and money. Through the use of blockchain technology, the data imported to The Seam’s platform is completely anonymous and immutable. As a leading provider of agribusiness software and commodities trading solutions, The Seam specializes in custom software development, commodity trading and management systems.
The Seam is dedicated to its mission of investing in the industry, providing modernization to agriculture and being a truly collaborative partner to its customers.