Editor’s Note: Carlos Piñeiro is the Managing Director of PigCHAMP Pro-Europa S.L., headquartered in Segovia, Spain. Pro-Europa is a livestock consulting firm primarily for swine. Its main goal is to transform data into meaningful information, capable of generating the knowledge needed to improve decisionmaking in the pork sector. Piñeiro has been with the company since it was founded in 2000.

Q. How important is information in getting a competitive advantage?

A. More information is available now than ever before — Google is processing more than 24 petabytes per day — but this abundance is not a guarantee of success. Having information at the right time is paramount, as is connecting data that has no apparent relationship. A report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit states that most executives agree the best way to get a competitive advantage is based on:

  • Getting the best information available
  • Interpreting it easily
  • Delivering it in formats that are easy to understand Most businesses are swimming in unused data and information due to: bad organization, deficient information sharing processes and/ or restrictive security policies. In general, large companies tend to rely on internal information and smaller ones rely either on external or market information.

Q. Why isn’t the data used?

A. The three main attributes of information for the majority of executives in the study are accuracy, validity and level of detail. In a way, the latter (level of detail) is surprising, but when you consider the decision-making process is always a risky situation where circumstances change constantly, sometimes it is better to make a quick decision based on available information rather than wait to have all the information (an example of the term, “fuzzy logic”). This is certainly true in the pork industry. Many companies run their information systems on software packages (either tailor made or recognized products in the industry) or Excel spreadsheets, or combinations of the two. Quite frequently, the process is not agile, key performance indicators (KPIs) are not set and priorities are not defi ned. In other words, data are collected and processed, followed by generation of summary reports.

Q. What changes are needed?

A. As the industry evolves, other KPIs may need to be added to the list. In a general sense, only reproduction performance in sows and performance in grow-fi nish pigs have been recorded. We have a growing need for the collection of health data, especially as it relates to gestating or lactating sows (i.e. lameness problems) or nursery/grow-fi nish pigs Q. Where does real-time analysis fi t in this picture? A. Customers demand an immediate response to their questions and problems, and in the global market, every manager knows that success is highly dependent on prompt and factual decisions. Monitoring the production process is becoming extremely important, and in many case, it involves more than the analysis of information. The discipline, methodical follow-up of properly defi ned KPIs within the production process is a valuable step leading to the early detection of risks and problems before than become worse, with more serious consequences.

Q. How can producers improve the use of information in their operations?

A. First, each producer should defi ne which KPIs are right for their operation. When that is established, they should focus on getting the right information and identifying data that is unnecessary. Many companies dedicate time and resources to collecting data that will never be used. Secondly, widen the access to information within your operation while taking reasonable precautions. The payback can be signifi cant. Third, promote delivery of information through devises that are part of people’s lives, like smart phones and tablets. Fourth, promote education and training on how to interpret the data. Many people, from farm staff to managers, lack this basic ability. Fifth, designate an information champion within your organization and encourage their efforts. Greater market demands mean that more demands are placed on producers for enhanced quality and cost-effectiveness. Transforming data into knowledge is a must.

Source: PigCHAMP Annual Benchmark Report