How Digital Technology heralded the rise of Smart Cows

Every industry has the opportunity to embrace new digital technologies. The challenge, in a world full of options, is to identify which will deliver operational benefit. 

19 September 2017

Artificial Intelligence, The Internet of Things and Big Data are all currently trending, but where do these industry buzz words deliver value to your specific business?

Bridge of Allan is a small town in Stirling, Scotland, and was the eventual birthplace of “Smart Cows”. In 1939 a small, family-run business started with just 112 acres of land and 12 Ayrshire and British Friesian cows. By the 1990s the business had grown substantially – transitioning from doorstep to wholesales, delivering to shops, hotels and restaurants, and entering new locations including Glasgow, Edinburgh and Fife.

You’re probably thinking, “what does a family run farm have to do with digital technology?” Well, overheating cows, road delays and lost milk crates cost them millions every year. The farm was receiving 700,000 pints of milk daily (across 90 suppliers with thousands of cows and delivered by 160 drivers), producing various dairy products and completing 6,000 deliveries each day. While their challenges differ from most of us day-to-day, they could still be broken down into three key business-orientated needs:

  • Improve internal and external collaboration and communication.
  • Gain greater visibility across daily operations.
  • Build a closer relationship with customers and the supply chain.

After detailed discussions at expert led discovery workshops, Microsoft Office 365 and its market-leading set of applications were introduced to transform the operation, allowing a completely collaborative business across many interdependent locations. Power BI, one of the many Office 365 applications, enabled Smart business decisions including the prediction of volumes of product based on monitoring cattle temperature. By applying sensors at the opposite end of the supply chain, IOT sensors placed in the refrigerators allowed for early alerting on temperature fluctuations, prevent spoilage of milk at this volume has the potential to save millions annually. The farm was also able to pull data from a multitude of places, tracking driver locations and monitoring the temperature and speed of their vehicles with the help of Power BI and Microsoft Azure. Addressing the need for improved internal and external communication in Manufacturing is often tricky as a result of the dispersed nature and multitude of warehouses, offices and farms. Yammer was the answer, providing a platform for simplistic and personalised staff communication, allowing for corporate updates – or even just “Happy Birthday” messages!

It’s imperative to remember that the unique challenges faced by any business – regardless of sector – can be addressed with the help of digital technology, and choice of technology partner is critical to the project success. GCI has “business outcome” built within our DNA, and we’re always willing to demonstrate how we can bring digital technology to the forefront of your strategy to deliver positive outcomes.

If you’re interested in how the Microsoft Cloud can transform your business, give me a call 02077482191 or email:

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