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More Internet of Everything: Monsanto Spends $1 Billion on Climate Analytics Company


The company's latest acquisition will give it access to vast amounts of data about climate change.

The $55 billion agricultural products company Monsanto (NYSE:MON) announced that it will purchase data analytics firm The Climate Corporation in a cash deal valued at $930 million. Climate Corp. uses trillions of data points -- including historical and current agriculture and weather information -- to offer insurance policies to farmers. For example, the firm's system knows the exact topographical shape of every one of the 20 million croplands in the United States, what is grown on them, and their yield volumes in any given year. Every simulation Climate Corp. runs for insurance clients takes over 5 trillion data points like these into account.

The acquisition will give the agriculture giant a vital asset in its continuing production of the most viable crops whether they are natural or genetically modified (the latter is more often the case).

Here is a selection from Monsanto's press release regarding the acquisition:

The acquisition of The Climate Corporation represents a natural extension of Monsanto's vision to increase crop productivity, conserve more of our planet's natural resources, and improve the lives of people around the world. It will also greatly expand The Climate Corporation's capabilities in data science, agriculture's next major growth frontier, an area that represents a potential opportunity of $20 billion beyond Monsanto's core focus today. The companies estimate the majority of farmers have an untapped yield opportunity of up to 30 bushels to 50 bushels in their corn fields, and they believe that advancements in data science can help further unlock that additional value for the farm.

It's not just farmers who are excited about the imminent intersection of agriculture and big data: Since Climate Corp.'s founding in 2006, venture firms have poured more than $110 million into the firm; investors include Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Ventures, Index Ventures, First Round Capital, and Allen & Company.

Monsanto's next step into the connected world raises a question: Can data analytics offer other industries the ability to unlock profits as well? The answer is most absolutely yes.

On its website, IBM (NYSE:IBM) lists several statistics from companies that use its big data platform, illustrating the power that data analytics has to increase return on investment. IBM claims that its health care clients decreased patient mortality 20% by analyzing streaming data. IBM also states that its telecommunication clients saw a 92% decrease in customer processing time with network and call data, and that its utilities clients saw 99% improved accuracy in the placement of their power resources.

Perhaps the industry most associated with data analytics is retail. Earlier today, Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) released research claiming that as much as $81 billion of 2013 global retail revenue was made possible by the use of data -- by the so-called "Internet of Everything." Moreover, Cisco claims that global retailers could have brought in additional revenue of $99 billion had they been more connected across all operations.

Data analysis offers companies the ability to unlock profit by giving them a higher level of sophistication in targeting specific consumer needs. Retail companies depend on data from human behavior, whereas companies like Monsanto rely upon the behavior of weather, soil, plants, and animals.So develops the "Internet of Everything."

Follow me on Twitter: @JoshWolonick and @Minyanville
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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