The U.S. Dairy Exporter Blog: Market Analysis, Research & News

  • Smartphones Empower Exporters

    By Mark O'Keefe March 23, 2016

    U.S. dairy exporters aren't about to give up their personal computers, but evidence shows a shift toward smartphones. 

    Smartphones are fast becoming an indispensible global dairy business tool. 

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    When an issue arose with custom agents half a world away, exports sales manager Stephane Leichnam of Lactalis American Group knew it had to be resolved as soon as possible. That led to a late-night, three-way phone conversation involving himself in New York City and people in multiple continents.

    “The phone call allowed us to work together to quickly find a solution, which could have taken days if we had to wait for each other to respond to one another,” says Leichnam.

    Lactalis American Group is a USDEC member company.

    Three-way calls are easy on iPhones and other smartphones. So is checking your email or getting information from a website.

    “Phones are absolutely a necessity in today’s international trade environment,” says Leichnam. “Checking my emails on my phone is probably the last thing I do at night and first thing I do when I wake up in the morning.”

    Rachel Grierson, dairy trader at Ronald A. Chisholm Limited, another USDEC member company, also relies heavily on her phone. "As a trader in the international market, I would say that a majority of our business is done through our phones—probably 80 percent of our export dairy sales actually."

    "We receive many daily emails with reports, price trends—and, of course, the USDEC emails that come out every week," she says. "These are helpful tools which we discuss in daily meetings with our dairy sales team."

    The share of Americans who own a smartphone has increased substantially since 2011, when the Pew Research Center first began examining smartphone adoption. Today, nearly two-thirds (64%) of U.S. adults own a smartphone, up from 35% in 2011.

    Smartphones are perfect for quick internet searches, email and voice communication, all of which play important roles in global dairy business. But a recent study found that many U.S. Dairy Export Council member company employees would rather read in-depth business information on a computer than a smartphone or tablet. 

    “Your members seem to have a real separation in their lives. When they are at work, they generally use their PC or laptop. They use their mobile devices before and after work," said Safina Lavji, user experience architect at Sandstorm Design, which conducted the survey. 

    In the survey, 76 percent said they prefer to read the USDEC Management Report on a computer, 20 percent prefer to read it on a tablet and 12 percent prefer to print it out first. (The percentages do not add up to 100 percent because the question allowed for multiple answers). A large majority said they prefer to read the weekly USDEC member newsletter, Global Dairy eBrief, on a computer. 

    While in-depth information with charts and numbers may not be a strong suit for mobile devices, their portability makes them indispensable in the global business arena. 

    Global business smartphone sales expected to boom

    A recent report from Strategy Analytics, “Global Business Smartphone Shipment Forecast Q4 2015,” says global business smartphone sales will grow from 392 million units in 2015 to 606 million in 2020.

    “By 2020, nearly half of the smartphone’s sold annually in North America will be personally owned and used for business purposes at some level,” says Andrew Brown, executive director of enterprise research at Strategy Analytics.

    In China, more people now access the internet from a mobile device than a personal computer. The latest report from the research organization China Internet Network Information Center shows the percentage of Chinese users accessing the internet via mobile grew to 83.4 percent as of June 2014, for the first time surpassing the percentage of users who access the internet via PCs (80.9 percent).

    Conducting business on the international level can be challenging, given time zone changes, the rigors of business travel and differences in what constitutes a workweek or weekend in different countries. (In many Middle Eastern countries, Sunday is part of the work week rather than the weekend.) Given these challenges, you can't smply be available during regular office hours anymore.

    Smartphones on the farm

    Paul Rovey wears many hats as a dairyman, businessman, USDEC chairman, as well as chairman of Dairy Management Inc., which manages the nation’s dairy checkoff program. To help him keep up, he toggles constantly between two iPhones, and has considered adding a third.

    “These mobile devices are an integral part of how I manage the dairy (and) manage all of the things that I do,” Rovey explains in the following video:

    USDEC makes mobile-friendly sites a priority

    When the U.S. Dairy Export Council launched redesigned websites and the U.S. Dairy Exporter Blog last year, one of the goals was to make these platforms mobile-friendly. Both soon earned Google's official mobile-friendly designation.

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    Another example of USDEC's committment to mobile is the Dairy Commodity Price Finder App

    The app provides mobile phone users with the latest pricing information on cheddar cheese, butter, lactose, milk powder and whey. A conversion calculator allows users to shift between English and metric units, as well as dairy-specific measures such as U.S. dollars per hundredweight and New Zealand dollars per kilogram of milk solids

    "It is an indispensable tool in an increasingly itinerant working world,” said Daniel Ingram, vice president of information resources at the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

    The app has already been downloaded more than 3,800 times, making it a resource for those wanting the latest dairy pricing in their pockets, wherever they may be.

    Learn more:

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    The U.S. Dairy Export Council fosters collaborative industry partnerships with processors, trading companies and others to enhance global demand for U.S. dairy products and ingredients. USDEC is primarily supported by Dairy Management Inc. through the dairy farmer checkoff. How to republish this post. 

     

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