Product Thinking

Product I Love: John Deere

Read why our Director of Product, Thomas Aston, loves John Deere.

Thomas Aston

June 7, 2019

At Connected we are obsessed with great products. We often talk about the great products we worked on and the ones we wished we worked on. We’d love to hear from people who are as obsessed with making great products as we are so if you’d like to share yours, send me a note at You may just get featured on our blog. In the meantime, hear why Connected Director of Product, Thomas Aston loves John Deere.

I grew up on a farm in Lancaster, Ontario where my parents often found me riding our John Deere tractors around the property. As a child, I loved their tractors for the exhilaration of the ride, but as I grew older and stepped into the world of Product, I came to appreciate the company through another lens.

Having been a fan of the brand for decades, seeing the evolution of Deere’s vision and business practices have influenced my approach to the craft of Product Management. It’s fascinating to witness the traditional industry of agricultural equipment evolve from horse-drawn plows to mechanization and now to data-driven, software-focused innovation. Deere has managed to do this and more by leveraging distributed computing and big data in order to create an ecosystem built for the future.

Thomas riding his motorcycle on the farm with John Deere equipment in the background

Forward-Thinking Product

A far-reaching problem we’re currently facing is irresponsible food management, particularly in North America. As millions of people globally face food crises, there is an imminent need to rethink our methods of production, distribution and waste management, and an opportunity to leverage net new technologies in pursuit of this goal.

John Deere has taken the initiative to build a next-gen ecosystem which enables data gathering to surface insights that pose material benefits for farming practices. This is much more than simply making their manufacturing processes more efficient, it is about enabling more effective agricultural tools. In order to differentiate themselves from the competition, Deere is no longer looking to make larger, faster equipment, but instead to build a fleet of the smartest, most efficient products.

High-Tech Features

With the introduction of The Operations Centre – an open platform information system for agricultural producers to optimize the management of production data, equipment information, and farm operations – Deere succeeded at becoming the world’s first IoT agri-tech leader.

John Deere’s Harvest Mobile screen using Precision Ag technology (Image Credit: John Deere)

Their platform helps farmers predict when to prep, plant or harvest crops in addition to surfacing a host of actionable insights about their land, equipment and operations. Deere’s suite of IoT-enabled sensors measure soil-based nitrogen and oxygen content, water levels, forecast precipitation, show temperature heat maps, and provide historical information enabling evidence-based decision making to improve yield and operational effectiveness. All of this information is stored in the cloud, allowing for broad sharing and leveraging of data from one farmer to another. This is by far the most innovative, disruptive technology in agriculture today.

Problem-Centred Innovation

Repurposing traditional “dumb” and dirty, diesel-powered machines and making them exponentially more effective through technology is a great example of how to polarize the market.

A self-propelled John Deere forage harvester (Image credit: John Deere)

At Connected, we appreciate Deere’s deep understanding of the problems their customers face and the potential to build net new solution ecosystems through emerging technologies. Deere’s example is applied technology for the public good at its finest.

If you want to hear about other products Connectors love, check out why Solutions Engineer, Kevin Bralten loves Google Photos.

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