Unprecedented disruption affecting the food retail sector across the globe is also spilling over into the knowledge industry. For some of the world’s biggest knowledge brokering organizations, gone are the days when a logo was enough to lure funding and command brand loyalty. For example, sources of agricultural and financial knowledge have become so diverse and deeply rooted that famous organizations are now fiercely competing with new smaller knowledge brokers in churning out innovative ideas, methods, models and tools.
As the war for talent intensifies, boundaries between formal and informal knowledge ecosystems are blurring. Small and previously unknown knowledge brokers are challenging assumptions and taking bold action. Rapid changes on the knowledge landscape are forcing big traditional knowledge brokers to either adapt and innovate or lose relevance. Young knowledge seekers are now quickly switching from one brand of knowledge source to another. Consequently, traditional knowledge brokers that sit on the fence risk getting outcompeted by aggressive, fast-moving and forward-thinking competitors. Government departments are also not immune to these trends as they are contending with patterns of community self-organization that are empowering people to seek and make sense of knowledge from diverse sources.
Brand loyalty no longer an asset
Some of the keen knowledge seekers are young researchers who tend to perceive newer knowledge brands as more innovative, transparent and approachable than traditional knowledge brokers. This young generation dislikes complicated bureaucratic processes which often hinder them from obtaining information from government departments and other traditional sources. New and fast knowledge brokers are launching themselves onto knowledge platforms and connecting directly with millions of knowledge users in ways that further reinforce the idea that traditional knowledge brokers are becoming stale.
In the agriculture sector, fast-moving knowledge brokers now have access to more operational data than ever and can conduct sophisticated analytics to inform knowledge seekers such as farmers and traders in real-time. Where a traditional knowledge broker would take more than a month to conduct a nutrition survey and release critical insights, a dynamic knowledge broker can quickly synthesize evidence before information gets stale and inform traders, farmers, processors and consumers about food demand and supply patterns in time for decision making.
Competing through partnering
Realizing the fact that knowledge is now the most powerful intangible asset, some agricultural processing companies in developing countries are joining forces with dynamic knowledge brokers to rapidly amass consumer data and insights for quick decision-making. For instance, a number of food processing companies are waking up to the importance of accurate information on different crops – availability, pricing, volumes, competing markets, payment terms and other factors. Since a lot of useful insights are found in competing spheres like open markets, dynamic knowledge brokers assist processing companies in understanding the entire market by availing data which shows where to play, how and if to play.
Food processing companies require an intelligent system that can be used at the hour of need. Such a system can avail data for planning and educating shareholders, most of whom are far removed from the action. The companies also wants to know invisible and intangible facts like the behavior of competitors, producers, competing markets, traders and other dynamics. Besides providing real-time evidence, fast knowledge brokers build relationships between processing companies and farmers, most of whom do not want to move from pillar to post looking for markets.
In addition to making the entire market ecosystem visible to processing companies, knowledge brokers provide interpretations like why prices are behaving the way they are. Without fast-moving knowledge brokers, processing companies risk missing multi-million dollar opportunities. Due to absence of efficient knowledge brokering services in some countries, many companies condemn commodities from farmers and suppliers when the ideal thing will be investing in educating value chain actors. A quick buck mentality often sacrifices long-term profitable relationships.
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