"If I ask [salespeople] to go run a model, to go figure out who they should be spending more time with among their customers, they are never going to run the model. If I embed it in their CRM, and they do their account plan, and behind the scenes I'm running the model . . . and their account plan just [states], 'You should be spending this amount of time with Farmer Joe, and this is what they need,' it's part of their workflow. And when they see [data as] part of their workflow, they can actually iterate on it because it's part of what they do every day.
"That's really the secret sauce that we've been able to implement, to create this iteration that we need around the data constantly, and expose why [employees] need to care about data because it directly impacts their ability to do their job."
Finally, Swanson says, the journey is partly a function of culture. He says a diverse array of viewpoints and skill sets are necessary, as they "bring together the breeder, the commercial person, the marketer, the supply chain lead, the IT person, [and] the finance lead to solve a problem or create an opportunity."
Swanson speaks regularly with human resources about how to better embed technology and data skill sets to every single role in the company, as well as with his colleagues on how to inculcate a "test and learn" culture where iteration is the norm.
"People shouldn't be thinking of IT as some back-office function that you call when there is just a help desk issue," he says. "They really should be looking at it as part and parcel of driving substantial value for companies that are really willing to use IT as a growth driver versus just an enabler or an operationally efficient function."
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