Learn Why Some Aspects of Digital Adoption Have Caused John Deere® Significant Growing Pains

Julian Wallis
10 min read

The recent jailbreak of an automated John Deere tractor underscores just how vulnerable these machines can be to hackers who want access or control over them at any cost.

Introduction 🚜

Adopting new technology is never without its challenges, and those who are the first to take on a new solution often swim against the tide. They are often the torchbearers of digital embrace, and they should be applauded for the courage and risks they take!

When it comes to cutting-edge technology solutions, there is always the risk that something will go wrong. After all, these solutions are often untested in the real world, and there is always the possibility that they will not work as intended.

While it may not always be smooth sailing, those who are willing to take on new technology solutions will often find themselves in a better position in the long run. You just have to be prepared for a few bumps along the way.

Take, for example, the case of John Deere and its self-automated tractor that an Australian hacker easily jailbroke. This also raised some crucial questions regarding the company’s cybersecurity practices and urge to embrace digitalisation.

But first, the good things about John Deere!

The Best Thing About John Deere — The See & Spray™ Select 🤗

The See & Spray Select uses a combination of computer vision and advanced technology to spray weeds in fallow fields. Fallow fields are a common farming technique where the soil is simply left unplanted for a certain amount of time to restore organic matter and retain nutrients and moisture. Essentially, the See & Spray Select can detect weeds in the arable soil and exclusively spray just the identified weed.

John Deere's tractor in digital adoption

The great thing about this select-spraying technology is that you only apply what you need, thereby significantly reducing herbicide use. Every time the targeted spray is used, the cameras are integrated into the boom scan and send data continuously to its visual processing system, detecting the colour green and thus identifying the weeds in the fallow soil. After weeds have been detected, a specific number of nozzles are used to target and spray them based on the concentration of weeds in an identified area. The in-cab display is then used to change the sprayer from selective to broadcast if there is a need to do so.

Of the area travelled, the in-cab display also records the areas where the herbicide was applied and where it wasn’t. This information is streamed to the JD Operations Centre Account, allowing farmers to track performance, gauge spray efficiency, and make improvements based on decisions regarding weed control.

And John Deere’s Self-Driving Tractors! 🚀

John Deere is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of agricultural equipment. The company has been at the forefront of agricultural technology for over 175 years and continues innovating with its line of self-driving tractors.

Self-driving tractors are a boon for farmers, as they can significantly increase productivity while reducing labour costs. John Deere’s self-driving tractors are some of the most advanced on the market, helping to revolutionise agriculture.

The key to John Deere’s success with self-driving tractors is its focus on safety. The company has equipped its tractors with various sensors and cameras that allow them to operate safely in even the most challenging environments, such as extreme weather conditions, including heat waves or snow.

John Deere’s self-driving tractors are changing how farmers work, poised to impact the agriculture industry significantly. The company’s focus on safety and innovation is helping to make self-driving tractors a reality for farmers worldwide.

However, the recent incident of a cyber attack on one of its semi-automated tractors has left people questioning the company’s safety, security, and privacy.

Wait, What Went Wrong? 🤔

A few years ago, John Deere was the envy of the agricultural industry. Farmers were rushing to buy the company’s new self-driving tractors, which promised to revolutionise farming. Today, however, Deere is facing growing pains as it tries to bring its digital innovations to market.

The company’s troubles began in 2022 when it released its first autonomous tractor. Unfortunately, software glitches and mechanical failures plagued the machine. As a result, farmers who had invested tens of thousands of dollars in the technology were left stranded in their fields, unable to plan their crops. The farmers are left with limited ability to fix these machines, requiring significant technical assistance.

In response to the outcry from farmers, John Deere issued a recall of the tractors. The company has since been working to improve the reliability of its autonomous machines. But the recalls have taken a toll on Deere’s reputation, and the company is now facing lawsuits from upset customers.

The Growing Challenges For John Deere 🚩

In an industry that may often be unfairly overlooked regarding technological innovation, John Deere has consistently pulled off the unthinkable and provided farmers with high-quality equipment designed to maximise yields and minimise costs. For years, John Deere has been manufacturing innovative agricultural machinery to benefit its customers and the environment.

John Deere - Digital embrace

In other words, John Deere is one of many other companies struggling to bring new digital technologies to market. Other companies, including Tesla and Uber, have also faced challenges in introducing innovative products. But, like John Deere, these companies are learning that turning cutting-edge technology into a successful business is challenging.

Despite the challenges, John Deere remains committed to its digital transformation. The company invests billions of dollars in new technologies, including data analytics and artificial intelligence. And it’s betting that the future of farming lies in digitalisation.

For now, though, John Deere is still working out the kinks in its digital products. And farmers are waiting to see if the company can deliver on its promises.

As companies digitise their products and services, the process is more complex than anticipated. In many cases, digitisation requires rethinking long-held assumptions about how products and services are designed, delivered, and consumed.

General Challenges Of Digitising Products & Services 👔

One of the most significant challenges is the need to create digital experiences that are compelling enough to persuade customers to switch from analog to digital versions of products and services. This can be a tall order, mainly when customers are accustomed to using established physical products and services.

Furthermore, once customers switch to digital versions of products and services, they often expect them to work flawlessly. This puts pressure on companies to ensure that their digital offerings are always available and function properly.

Finally, companies must also grapple with the fact that digital products and services can be copied and distributed quickly, making generating revenue difficult. This has led many companies to rethink their business models and look for new ways to monetise their digital offerings.

These challenges underscore companies’ need to consider their digitisation strategies carefully. Those who do so will be better positioned to succeed in the digital age.

Here’s How Companies Can Better Digitise Their Services/Products ✋

The internet has brought about a lot of changes in how businesses operate. Perhaps the most significant change is how businesses interact with their customers. In the past, companies had to rely on brick-and-mortar locations and face-to-face interactions to sell their products and services. Today, however, businesses can reach a much wider audience by selling their products and services online.


If you want your business to remain competitive, it’s essential to digitise your services and products. By doing so, you’ll be able to reach more customers and provide them with a better experience. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

👨‍💻 1. Create a robust website for your business

If you don’t already have a website for your business, now is the time to create one. Your website should be designed with your customer’s needs in mind. It should be easy to navigate and include relevant product and service information. Check out our website blueprint section on how we can help you create a robust outline for your business website, even before writing a single line of code.

📈 2. Use data-driven analytics to improve your business

Data can be used to improve every aspect of your business, from marketing to product development. Ensure you collect data from all touchpoints, including your website, social media, and brick-and-mortar locations. Use this data to improve your customer’s experience and make better business decisions. Our comprehensive article on big data might help you understand how data-driven analytics can improve your business in the long run.

💰 3. Implement eCommerce solutions

If you’re selling products or services online, it’s essential to have a robust eCommerce solution in place. Look for an eCommerce platform that is easy to use and offers features that will benefit your customers. For example, if you’re selling digital products, you’ll need a platform that supports digital downloads.

💸 4. Invest in SEO early on

SEO is critical for any business that wants to be successful online. If you’re unfamiliar with SEO, plenty of resources are available to help you get started. Once you understand how it works, you can start implementing SEO strategies on your website and blog.

🖁 5. Provide excellent customer service

Customer service is more important than ever in the digital age. If you’re not providing excellent customer service, you’re very likely to lose customers to your competitors. Make sure your team is trained to provide outstanding customer service at all times.

🤖 6. Stay up-to-date with technology

Technology is always changing, and it’s crucial to stay up-to-date with the latest trends. This will ensure that your business uses the best possible tools and solutions. You can stay up-to-date with technology by reading industry news and blogs, attending conferences, and networking with other professionals.

📲 7. Use social media to connect with customers

Social media is a powerful tool that can be used to connect with customers and promote your business. Make sure you’re active on your target audience’s platforms. If you’re unsure where to start, try creating a profile on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

By following these tips, you can digitise your business and stay ahead of the competition.

What’s The Lesson From John Deere Here? 📚

John Deere’s struggle with digitisation provides a timely lesson for companies looking to transform their businesses through digital technology. By not investing in the right platform, partners and cybersecurity, John Deere allowed its competitors to gain a significant advantage in the market. However, the company remains one of the most tech-savvy in the agricultural product industry to date — and they are working on improving their products with every new launch.

The lesson from John Deere’s case is that companies must consider their digital transformation strategies carefully. They need to invest in the right platform and partner with experienced providers who can help them execute their plans successfully. Only then can they hope to compete effectively in the digital age.

Another lesson here is that companies cannot underestimate the importance of data. In the age of big data, companies must be able to collect, process, and store large amounts of data to make informed decisions. John Deere’s inability to do so led to competing with startups that could quickly develop a software platform that helped farmers manage their crops more effectively. The moral of the story is that data is becoming increasingly important in all industries, and companies must learn to adapt or risk being left behind.

If you need more information on how to digitise your company’s products and services (or need help with the process!), write to us for a friendly discovery session.

Published On

October 10, 2022