KPMG - a view on agritech

KPMG are one of our Corporate Partners, who’s aim is to ‘Fuel the prosperity of New Zealand.’ We interviewed Global Head of Agribusiness Ian Proudfoot about his view on agritech both nationally and internationally and asked why KPMG joined the Sprout Corporate Partners family this year.

Q: What’s your view on the New Zealand agritech scene?

A: It’s an emerging area in New Zealand. As a country, we’ve been slower than other countries to recognise the potential of the various opportunities inherent in agritech. We are rapidly recognising that to retain our competitive advantage we need to adopt agritech. We need to understand how adopting these technology solutions is going to deliver our advantages to organisations in their value chains.

Admittedly, the understanding of the whole value chain has improved in the last 12 months and organisations are now looking at bringing in agritech faster. However, it’s about recognising the opportunity it can play in creating a sustainable competitive advantage for our Primary Industries.

Q: Where do you think agritech will have the biggest impact in New Zealand’s Primary Industries?

A: That’s a great question! There’s going to be an impact in so many areas, it’s hard to say where the biggest one is going to be. Intuitively it’s going to be behind the farm gate in production at least initially.

However, in the long run the biggest area of impact is going to be how we connect with our consumers. We need to acutely understand them, so we can deliver them traceable products that solve their biggest problems. Agritech is going to play a big part in linking the producer and the consumer together.

Q: Can you explain KPMG’s involvement in agritech nationally and internationally?

A: At a national level we are a Corporate Partner of the Sprout programme and have integrated the Innovation Council into our business this year. More importantly we’ve spent a lot of time in the last three years understanding what the DNA of successful enterprises looks like, something that we started in the primary sector through our long term partnership with the Te Hono Movement.

We’ve been working with Callaghan Innovation on a programme to apply our Enterprise DNA framework to innovative companies, so they can build and insert the key attributes inherent in successful organisations into their own company culture.

This programme is aimed at companies understanding the DNA around:

  • The Role of pivotal leadership,
  • The need for a clear Vision and a purpose that defines why the company exists,
  • How to collaborate effectively and take risks with collaborative partners, and
  • Being consistent with how they apply their focus.

It challenges companies to think about the width of their investment strategies (beyond capital assets but into people, brand, customer connections and innovation.) It’s a comprehensive programme that enables innovative companies to fulfil their destiny and contribute to the prosperity of NZ.

Internationally, KPMG has a global network of agrifood professionals. We have teams  in 35 countries, which encompasses six centres of excellence focusing on agritech in a more significant way. We’ve got some interesting plans for collaboration in 2017, especially with our colleagues in Australia, around providing access for our clients to extend their reach beyond their national markets to international markets. We really want to help them extend their ambitions and customer base given the rapid globalisation of the agri-food system.

Q: What are your words of advice for:

  1. Farmers, around the adoption of agritech
  2. Agritech entrepreneurs who are trying to solve a problem

A1: It’s simple advice really – yesterday is too late!

In reality, ignoring the adoption of agritech isn’t an option. Change is coming and incredibly quickly. Therefore, the role of the farmer is to ensure they maximise the value they can extract from their business for themselves, their community and their country, while being operationally sustainable. The challenge is to do everything they do all this while adapting to the opportunities that emerging agri-tech solutions present.

A2: The key for entrepreneurs is to ensure that their idea is a solution the customer is looking for. They need to be able to answer the question ‘how are they going to create value for the customer?’  A good idea is not enough. It has to have a demonstrable benefit to the customer, to show they’re going to get significant benefit from using the product.

Make sure you walk in the customers’ shoes – the more you do, the more likely you are to have the game changer we’re all looking for.

Q: Why did KPMG join the Sprout Corporate Partner family?

A: Sprout is the preeminent incubator in this space in NZ, with a proven track record of helping innovative businesses build plans and raise capital. With our desire to help NZ innovators to become successful, we felt there was the ability for us to contribute to the programme and deliver on our purpose of helping to fuel NZ’s prosperity. For KPMG, our support of Sprout is another practical way for us to help us bring our purpose to life.

Ian Proudfoot

Ian is KPMG’s Global Head of Agribusiness. He is a licensed auditor and his day job is an audit partner for KPMG. He has been with them for 24 years, 20 or so of those years with the New Zealand office. He is the author and creator of the KPMG Agribusiness Agenda, which focuses on the future of food.  You can download a copy of the agenda from their website..