Nearly half of all fruits, vegetables, and nuts in the United States come from California.1 The Central Valley also produces nearly 85 percent of all the carrots in America!2 Our area is ripe (pardon the pun) with hundreds of farms producing hundreds of different agricultural commodities. From almonds to lettuce to dairy products, you don’t have to drive far from Bakersfield to see acres upon acres dedicated to producing these vital foodstuffs for the rest of the country.
But take a closer look sometime. Many tractors and pieces of field equipment are outfitted with GPS units to make sure every pass across the field brings in the greatest yield. Irrigation systems are networked to collect real-time information and deliver the exact right amount of water to specific crops at specific times. Order entry systems work together to ensure maximum efficiency across the supply chain. Technology has transformed farms and ranches in amazing ways, just as it has for many other industries.
We work with many companies in agriculture and, as is the case in most sectors, the IT solution that’s right for one organization is quite different than what’s right for another. Different companies operate in different ways, and have different priorities in the shifting business landscape. That said, we’ve found one tool that all farms and ranches can benefit from: Voice over Internet Protocol telephone solutions.
Now We’re Talking
Voice over Internet Protocol, or “VoIP” for short, replaces traditional landlines with phone service that works over Internet-based broadband connections. In some aspects, a VoIP phone looks and behaves just like a traditional phone line. But in others, the differences are staggering and can offer ranches and farms new ways to get the most out of the working day. Here are four key benefits to utilizing VoIP phones in your agricultural business.
- Greater accessibility. One of our clients lamented that they had no simple way to communicate with supervisors out in the fields from the main office. They tried walkie-talkies and tablets and a few other solutions, and found that keeping up with who was using what device on any given day was cumbersome. Maybe the supervisor was in the office, or the shipping dock, or on his way to the next location. Finally, they simply resorted to calling the supervisor’s cellphone when they were in the field. With VoIP, phone numbers can be routed to ring at a desk and then a cell phone in sequence…or to ring to both devices at once. With VoIP, each employee can be assigned a single phone number or extension that can reach them no matter where they are during the day.
- Reduced total cost of ownership. Keeping up with employees who are as likely to be in the field as in the office can get expensive. Walkie-talkies, cell phones, desk phones…and the list continues. But by assigning a single number to each employee, your total cost of ownership to keep everyone in your organization connected will be reduced simply by virtue of removing devices from your network. Add in that VoIP is typically much less expensive on a per-line basis than traditional phone systems, and your bottom line can expect a healthy improvement in switching to a virtual phone system.
- Decreased complexity. As mentioned above, keeping up with workers and routing calls to the right place can be a pain using traditional phone systems and communications devices. With VoIP, rules can be set to route calls to the right person with ease, regardless of where they are working. Additionally, you can use VoIP to provide group-wide messages and alerts to your team. Imagine a storm is suddenly rolling in, and you need to tell your field supervisors to get your team out of the elements. VoIP allows you to reliably send messages to your entire field operations team at once, instead of having to phone them all individually, hoping to reach everyone before the storm arrives.
- Simplified administration – Our experience has been that many farm operations are seasonal by nature, with rushes and lulls. Adding employees during the busy times should be as simple as possible, and VoIP makes it easy to give new hires their own phone lines as needed. With a few clicks of a button in a centralized dashboard, your growing workforce can have full-featured phones and be ready to work. And when things slow down? A few more clicks and those lines can be removed, lowering your bill until it’s time to get busy again.
The benefits of VoIP are wide ranging, and what’s listed above is just the tip of the iceberg for how this powerful solution can help your agriculture business. From making communication easier and more seamless for your entire team to reducing the expense of a critical part of your network, VoIP is changing the way many farms and ranches work. With so much of the country counting on the produce and dairy originating from here, it is vital that agricultural businesses explore different ways to improve not just their IT infrastructure, but their businesses as a whole. If your farm or ranch is interested in learning more about how VoIP might directly be of benefit to you, contact DiamondIT. We’re proud to support agriculture-based businesses across the Central Valley, and would be proud to work with you too.