In today’s agricultural world, John Deere is being pushed by an ever tech-savvy group of farmers to design more than horsepower, fuel efficiency, ease of use and in-cab technology. As more and more producers become comfortable with their mobile devices, the need for up-to-date apps is becoming a necessity.
That is where Julian Sanchez and his team that form the John Deere User eXperience come into play. This group creates, tests and publishes some of the latest mobile technologies that John Deere has to offer, like the brand new GoHarvest app. As much as it sounds like a very techie, behind the computer kind of job, it all starts in the cab for this crew.
“Traditionally, almost every engineer, every accountant and every salesperson was a farmer, came from a farm or had friends that were farmers,” Sanchez said. “As we have grown and become more global that is not necessarily the case anymore.”
“Everybody in my group, whether you are a programmer or a graphic designer has to spend at least 30 hours in cab of a vehicle every year, because it is so important that we understand every aspect of what the farmer deals with on a daily basis.”
This practice emphasizes that Sanchez’s department is only a part of the process for the farmer and he really wanted his team to realize that they are part of a much bigger picture within the Deere family.
When the John Deere User eXperience was formed by Sanchez, he wanted to pattern the new department after the software industry, and he loaded it with people that have graphic design, psychology and other non-ag backgrounds, that were new to Deere as well.
That mentality and approach to technology has made many Deere products “walk-up easy.”
“The idea behind walk-up easy is to allow just about anybody to walk up to a product and without a significant amount of training they can begin to use the basic functions of that particular product,” Sanchez said.
That is precisely how the GoHarvest app was formed.
“The GoHarvest concept is something that I have been pushing very heavily internally,” Sanchez said. “This will allow the ability to leverage mobile technology to in some cases close the gap for machines that are hard to use.”
Some of the newer apps that are in the John Deere pipeline thanks to Sanchez’s team involve in-cab use targeted at making the initial set up and configuration of a combine or tractor a lot easier. Sanchez’s background in engineering and his graduate degree in psychology allow him to approach technology development from a very human-centered type of practice.
One thing that Sanchez is thankful for and pleasantly surprised about is the growth of mobile technology use on the farm.
“Let’s face it, no one at Apple said ‘Hey what about the farmer demographic? We should design for them,’” Sanchez said. “Ten years ago I would guess that the number of farmers that had an Apple product was less than 5%. To be honest even in the last year, it has been an internal educational tool for our whole organization to make everyone realize that our customers already utilize mobile technology in their everyday lives, so we had to get to this point very quickly just to keep up with the farmer.”