Land O’Lakes: advancing agriculture for a new generation

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Today’s Microsoft Office 365 post was written by Tony Taylor, senior director of IT Services at Land O’Lakes.

land-olakes-pro-pixWhen you consider that farmers will need to feed an estimated global population of close to 10 billion people by 2050, you begin to understand how big the agriculture business really is. To meet that future demand, we can’t rely on antiquated methods or keep one foot in the past.

At Land O’Lakes, we have embraced technology in every facet of our business. We are a farmer-owned business operating in 50 US states and 50 countries, with US $13 billion in net sales annually among our dairy, agriculture services and feed businesses. Our farmers keep those numbers growing while continuing to feed the world.

Because we operate on such a large scale, we need to build in efficiencies wherever we can. In fact, we developed an app that uses satellite imagery and collects data from combines and tractors to generate planting recommendations for a greater yield. Farmers can carry a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 or 4 with them in the field and see exactly where to add fertilizer or increase planting density to achieve the best results. We also have an international development arm of the company that promotes sustainable farming techniques in Africa, Mexico and other parts of the world.

To give our employees greater flexibility and free them from specific work spaces, we had to ensure that they could easily get to their information from anywhere. We recently adopted Microsoft Office 365 to gain the capabilities our highly mobile workforce needs to be effective. Everyone from farmers to salespeople can work untethered and still access the reports, product specs and colleagues that they need. And they’re thrilled that they can use all these new capabilities on every device—even their home computers—with the same user experience no matter what they’re using or where. In fact, within three months of making Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus available, we had over 4,000 employees taking advantage of it on more than 6,000 home and mobile devices.

Today, our employees use Office 365 both within Land O’Lakes and with our external partners. Groups use Microsoft SharePoint Online to share content among teams, with co-op members and with outside marketers. Our salespeople can trust that they always have the latest product sheets because that data is automatically updated and distributed through Microsoft OneDrive for Business. And whether they’re at our headquarters, out on a farm or anywhere in between, colleagues connect with each other through instant message and presence notification using Skype for Business Online, which we also use for a range of meetings, interviews and even presentations to universities.

Now that we’ve seen the power of Office 365, we’re eager to dive in even deeper, which is why we’ve purchased the new premium enterprise functionality. Now, our international team can simply say, “Skype me,” when they hold Skype Meetings for real-time video meetings or share presentations. And we use Power BI to give our end users the ability to drive real-time analytics on their own, without IT involvement. We’re also looking at MyAnalytics to see who is consuming which data (and who isn’t), so that we can see how to shape our organization, train our workforce and optimize our employees’ potential.

At Land O’Lakes, we believe that our investment in technology equates to an investment in our employees’ success. By empowering our workforce with Office 365 and the most up-to-date technologies, we’ll attract and retain top talent who will be critical in helping us push the envelope and make the next big breakthroughs in feeding the world.

—Tony Taylor

Read the case study to better understand how Land O’Lakes empowers their workforce.

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