Monday, August 29, 2011

John Deere's Largest Product Launch in the Ag Division History

Readers who have ever wondered what it is like to be at a corporate product launch got the most real-time coverage ever during this week’s John Deere Product Launch. I spent a day with a group of U.S. and Canadian ag journalists, bloggers, machinery writers and self-proclaimed ‘ag nerds’ as they took in the opening show, demonstrations, and visited with factory managers and John Deere leadership. 
Learning about new John Deere combine cab controlsWhile I was required to stay mum until the products hit the internet Thursday, our media folks were invited to take photos, video, tweet and share everything they saw. Share they did! They pumped out tweets, posts and video as quick as we could cycle the loader on the new 6R’s (4 seconds)!

MachineSync (shown above) was my favourite product launched. Imagine.. combines and grain carts in a field, grain cart driver can see on his screen when the combine is full, pulls within range of the combine and the combine driver takes over control of the tractor to ensure a perfect fill on the grain cart... every time. Not a grain lost. As the Ag Management Solutions group put it, the "tractor - combine square dance becomes that easy". 10 vehicles, 3 miles, 1 integrated solution. Pure innovation.
Beyond the products, the work that goes into Intro is just as impressive for me. The ‘reveal night’ could easily be compared to a circus with 500 hp tractors and combines wheeling circles through a smoke and light show. Months of preparation and weeks of practice come together in a 2 week program, that sees over 5000 people from dealers across Canada, the U.S. and Australia attend. It’s not uncommon for me to feel overwhelmed at least once while watching the show. 
Dealers check out the new John Deere S Series combineThe undertaking is exhausting for those working, yet I believe the effort is worth it. A good Intro gets dealer sales teams excited to go home and share the new products and technology with customers. For me, it’s my favourite event of the year. The 3 day event is also a chance to get caught up with John Deere friends and dealers, often only seen once a year. I’ve been to Denver, Omaha, Cincinnati and now Indianapolis and while the cities blend together, the comradery makes each event memorable. Getting on the bus for 7 am field classes always feels like I accomplished some ‘work-hard, play-hard’ challenge. Finally, instructors feigning energy and excitement over jokes and content they've taught 36+ times is still entertaining.   
If you can't wait for your favourite ag publication to hit the mailbox this week, you can check out some of the links below (if you haven't already)!  

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