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Trends in Technology for Greenhouse Growers

Technology Trends Impacting Greenhouse Growers in 2022

By Todd Waterman, Velosio Solution Architect

Technology plays a key role in the business success of greenhouse growers by helping control costs so they can provide plants, flowers, shrubs, and trees to customers at a reasonable profit. Technology also delivers real-time access to information, which drives faster decision-making so your team can deliver a higher level of service to customers and operate the business more efficiently.

In a way, technology is the glue that holds the business together—allowing processes to flow more smoothly so more work gets done and so your team can collaborate more effectively in meeting customer demands.

In this blog, we examine technology trends in 2022 that are impacting how greenhouse growers run their businesses. We also present an affordable technology that helps manage financial and operational processes and which can sync with current technologies already in play.

Cyberattacks on the Rise

We’ve all heard the stories of how ransomware attacks have succeeded in bringing businesses to a standstill across all industries. The threat to greenhouse growers is just as prevalent. Imagine if all your applications, email, files and databases were locked. The cyber attackers who planted the ransomware won’t give you access unless you pay them; and if you don’t, they will simply delete all your digital assets.

The key to defending against ransomware is to first understand your IT risks through a security risk assessment so you know which gaps in security posture need to be closed. It’s also important to conduct awareness training for your end-users so they know how to avoid attacks such as phishing that can lead to ransomware breaches.

From there, develop a business continuity plan with the necessary processes to protect your company should a breach occur. Handled correctly, you just might be able to ignore any ransom requests. And for those who want extra protection, consider a cybersecurity insurance policy.

For each of these measures, it’s best to work with a cybersecurity expert who can take you through all the steps to assess your risk, implement new security controls, train your end-users, develop a business continuity plan, and help you find cyber insurance policies. Each component requires an understanding of what other businesses—especially those who are greenhouse growers—have done to improve their security postures. Knowledge of the best practices to implement and the pitfalls to avoid will save you a lot of headaches!

Cloud Adoption Growing Rapidly

This trend syncs with the first trend in that the cloud offers a stronger security posture than IT systems that run on-premises. This is particularly true if you run your applications on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.

No cloud is 100% foolproof, but your systems, applications and data all benefit from the security controls that Microsoft applies for all cloud customer environments. Their state-of-the-art data centers are supported by more than 3,5000 of the top IT security experts in the world. You also get built-in protection—like multi-factor authentication—to defend against denial of service attacks and data leaks along with real-time threat intelligence that keeps up with global cybercriminal activity. These capabilities simply are not possible for the typical on-premises systems deployed by SMBs.

In addition to enhanced security, the cloud also allows you to run your applications on the latest technologies while providing the ability to scale IT resources up and down according to what you need each month. No more overpaying for servers that go unused, and no worries about your servers being able to handle spikes in customer activity.

The cloud also facilitates remote work for your employees. They can log in from anywhere at any time to communicate with each other and customers to get work done sooner. Another key aspect of the cloud is automatic data backups to other geographic locations so you can establish business continuity should a natural disaster strike your area. Your IT environment can be redeployed quickly so your business can get back on its feet right away.

E-Commerce Driving Business Growth

Starting with the arrival of Covid-19 two years ago, more and more growers began to embrace e-commerce to bring in revenue through their websites and trading partner websites. Consumers now do their shopping for all kinds of products from home—curbside pickup is here to stay.

Through e-commerce, you can also eliminate the costs of taking orders over the phone or in person and then inputting them into the system. Any orders created online automatically print in your warehouse, and the warehouse team delivers the orders outside, where customers can drive right up to get their order off the rack.

If you already use an e-commerce platform like Shopify, it can be easily integrated with financial management solutions like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. This allows you to automatically update sales orders, inventory, and availability. You can also implement a tracking tool to let customers track the status of their orders via your website.

Supply Chain Backlogs

This trend is a global issue across all industries as manufacturers and suppliers experience material shortages and shipping delays caused by a lack of drivers, trucks, and other assets vital to the logistics process. To get better control of their supply chains, many greenhouse growers are looking for new sources for materials such as pottery and ceramics. If possible, they are staying with North American suppliers to minimize the risk of overseas shipments. Some growers are also expanding the production of their own products so they’re not as reliant on others.

Technology won’t make the supply chain challenge go away. But by leveraging D365 Business Central to consolidate all data into one system, you gain better visibility into what’s happening within your supply chain. You can compare that to your sales forecasts to understand the precise extent of any supply chain issue.

When making decisions on how to react, D365 Business Central goes beyond what you can do with spreadsheets and accounting packages. For example, if you have planned your entire year and suddenly half of your pottery sources can no longer deliver, spreadsheets and basic accounting solutions will make it difficult to identify all your purchase orders and projected sales orders to figure out where you stand and what won’t be coming in. With D365 Business Central, you get requirements planning and demand forecasting capabilities to sort through your data so you can update your plan.

Reduced Labor Pools

The supply chain challenges have been accompanied by reduced labor pools. One greenhouse grower found itself in a situation where it had to shift resources from its warehouse to planting trees and shrubs when supply orders were delayed.

Then, as orders weren’t getting out the door on time, the business shifted resources back to the warehouse to speed up shipping. But this impacted the downstream output of the planting operations.

All of this was aggravated by the lack of available resources for hire. There simply weren’t enough people to keep planting production on schedule and to ship orders in time to meet customer demands.

One of the ways that technology helps alleviate problems caused by labor shortages is through automation. For example, machines can separate a stack of pots and automatically load the potting machines.

Automation can also be achieved with small devices that are integrated with D365 Business Central. Consider how plant pots typically have multiple labels such as one for the lot number, the crop ID, an identifier of who planted the pot, and another label showing the date it was planted. By putting a fixed scanner on the production line, you can scan all four labels at once as the pots go by—rather than someone manually scanning trailers of trays. The system data also flows automatically into D365 Business Central so you can track the performance of each pot and the lot it is in.

Just like the supply chain challenge, software can’t solve the labor constraint issue. But the tools in D365 Business Central help you maximize your output as much as possible by providing visibility into your demand for labor based on the task activities you need to execute—from planting to production to shipping.

Affordable Financial and Operational Management Software

Many greenhouse growers facing the challenges of these trends assume enterprise resource planning systems like D365 Business Central are beyond their IT budgets. But with the software provisioning services from the cloud using a monthly subscription model, it turns a large upfront capital expense into a manageable monthly operating expense. Compared to struggling with how to operate more efficiently and to measure forecasted sales, labor availability, inventory, and purchasing costs, the opportunity cost of not investing can easily surpass the cost of D365 Business Central.

You can also continue to use Microsoft Excel in conjunction with Business Central if you have a set of spreadsheets that are helping you run your business. Business Central integrates seamlessly with all Microsoft Office applications, giving your end-users a familiar application experience. And with standard, easy-to-manage tools, D365 Business Central helps manage all the business functions growers are looking for—there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit to take advantage of!

To learn more about the technology trends impacting greenhouse growers and how Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central can help you run your business, check out our webinar 2022 Trends in Technology for Greenhouse Growers. And if you need help with cybersecurity, the cloud or e-commerce, Velosio is here to help—contact us today to start your journey.


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