Agricultural and construction equipment giant Deere & Co. has appointed Ganesh Jayaram as chief information officer, effective this month. But the action doesn’t really signal a change in direction for the technology operations at the company, which ranked 84 on the Fortune 500 list in 2022.
Jayaram comes to the job from inside Deere, where he has served as VP of IT since 2016 leading the “Agile Operating Model Transformation,” a shift for the company from a “projects to products” focus.
InformationWeek caught up with Jayaram to talk about his career, the strategy ahead for Deere, and the forces in the market that will be impacting the company in the months ahead.
Deere’s IT Strategy
The Agile Operating Model is Deere’s move from the Waterfall development model to an Agile model that Jayaram spearheaded as VP of IT.
Jayaram tells InformationWeek that this is the accomplishment he’s most proud of over the course of his career.
“It’s a wholesale transformation of the IT function,” he says. “It’s a partnership between the IT function and our partners in the rest of the business.”
That explains the high level, but there’s a deeper philosophy behind it that many businesses have pursued. Deere is no exception. Jayaram explains that the Waterfall model puts a lot of value-creation at the end of the project and makes IT subservient to the business by having it turn over all the features they want to the IT team at the start of the engagement. The business side is not as involved as the development happens, except for maybe quarterly updates on progress.
“As part of the operating model, we have shifted from projects to products,” Jayaram says. “It might sound like this is just a semantic shift, but it’s not. It is actually the underpinning for how we have reorganized ourselves into product-based teams.”
Deere’s IT is seeking to follow a model that looks something like software as a service (SaaS) in that the team will continue to develop updates and improvements to an application or product continually rather than as one single release that comes out once a year or once every two or three years.
“Teams stay engaged through the entire lifecycle and are responsible for continual upgrades,” he says. There’s no construct of, ‘hey, I’ve done this project, I’m going to leave the team and do something else now.’”
This reorganization of the IT function also keeps IT more closely engaged with their business users, something that Jayaram says is truly the most important aspect of the transformation.
Jayaram says that there are three major trends right now. First is focusing in on the market opportunities. As Deere leadership has said before, the company leadership believes they are in position to improve their customers’ profitability and productivity, so that means there’s a lot of opportunity to sell more to existing customers in the market.
Second, Jayaram says that sustainability is a mega trend for companies, and that’s something that Deere plans to address in terms of both its own operations and the equipment that it makes that is used in construction and farming operations, and also in internal IT operations.
Third is the trend of automation. That’s been significant for Deere customers who have relied on updated equipment that incorporates automation. But in terms of Jayaram’s IT organization, there’s also automation work to be done.
“We are trying to drive decision-making in real time at the edge. It’s not just machines, but in our factories, in our warehouses, doing a lot of real-time analytics that improves the quality of our operations,” Jayaram says.
The Best Preparation for CIO Role
Jayaram says that his long years on the business side of Deere were what best prepared him for his new role as CIO.
He held several roles at Deere since he started at the company in 2006, and most of them were not in IT, but rather on the business side — as a VP of corporate strategy, as the global director of the cotton harvesting equipment line, and as VP of sales and marketing for the Ag & Turf division in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. He explains why that background has been an advantage.
“Because first and foremost, technology for technology’s sake is never an ideal outcome. You are looking to invest in technologies as a means to drive differentiated business outcomes and value for your stakeholders — your end users or any of your different constituents of the IT function,” he says. “Coming in with that rich vein of business experience across sales and market and product manufacturing and engineering and corporate strategy gave me a better appreciation of who our customers are, what our purpose is, and the role that technology can play and does play in improving the lives of all those different stakeholders.”
“If you think about the jobs that best prepared me, I would say that every single role that I’ve had since I came into the company progressively prepared me to take on more of these responsibilities,” he says.
Jayaram succeeds Raj Kalathur as CIO at Deere. Kalathur has moved into the role of CFO for the company, and he also retains his duties as president of John Deere Financial and continues oversight of IT.
True to form, Nothing has just announced the full reveal date for its upcoming audio product, Ear (stick).
So, an announcement about an announcement. You’ve got to hand it to Carl Pei’s marketing department, they never miss a trick.
What we’re saying is that although we still have ‘nothing’ conclusive about the features, pricing or release date for the Ear (stick) except an image of another model holding them (and we’ve seen plenty of those traipsing down the catwalk recently), we do have a date – the day when we’ll be granted official access to this information.
That day is October 26. Nothing assures us that on this day we’ll be able to find out everything, including pricing and product specifications, during the online Ear (stick) Reveal, at 3PM BST (which is 10AM ET, or 1AM on Wednesday if you’re in Sydney, Australia) on nothing.tech (opens in new tab).
Any further information? A little. Nothing calls the Ear (stick), which is now the product’s official name, “the next generation of Nothing sound technology”, and its “most advanced audio product yet”.
But that’s not all! Apparently, Ear (stick) are “half in-ear true wireless earbuds that balance supreme comfort with exceptional sound, made not to be felt when in use. They’re feather-light with an ergonomic design that’s moulded to your ears. Delivered in a unique charging case, inspired by classic cosmetic silhouettes, and compactly formed to simply glide into pockets.”
Opinion: I need more than a lipstick-style case
Nothing Ear (stick) – official leaked renders pic.twitter.com/FrhKmRttmiOctober 1, 2022
Aside from this official ‘news’ from Nothing, leaked images and videos of the Ear (stick) have been springing up all over the internet (thank you, developer Kuba Wojciechowski) and they depict earbuds that look largely unchanged, which is a shame.
For me, the focus needs to shift from gimmicks such as a cylindrical case with a red section at the end which twists up like a lipstick. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of theater, but only if the sound coming from the earbuds themselves is top dog.
See, that lipstick case shape likely will not support wireless charging. That and the rumored lack of ANC means the Ear (stick) is probably arriving as the more affordable option in Nothing’s ouevre.
For now, we sit tight until October 26.
Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.
You might soon have to buy YouTube Premium to watch 4K YouTube videos, a new user test suggests.
According to a Reddit thread (opens in new tab) highlighted on Twitter by leaker Alvin (opens in new tab), several non-Premium YouTube users have reported seeing 4K resolution (and higher) video options limited to YouTube Premium subscribers on their iOS devices. For these individuals, videos are currently only available to stream in up to 1440p (QHD) resolution.
The apparent experiment only seems to be affecting a handful of YouTube users for now, but it suggests owner Google is toying with the idea of implementing a site-wide paywall for access to high-quality video in the future.
So, after testing up to 12 ads on YouTube for non-Premium users, now some users reported that they also have to get a Premium account just to watch videos in 4K. pic.twitter.com/jJodoAxeDpOctober 1, 2022
It’s no secret that Google has been searching for new ways to monetize its YouTube platform in recent months. In September, the company introduced five unskippable ads for some YouTube users as part of a separate test – an unexpected development that, naturally, didn’t go down well with much of the YouTube community.
A resolution paywall seems a more palatable approach from Google. While annoying, the change isn’t likely to provoke the same level of ire from non-paying YouTube users as excessive ads, given that many smartphones still max out at QHD resolution anyway.
Of course, if it encourages those who do care about high-resolution viewing to invest in the platform’s Premium subscription package, it may also be more lucrative for Google. After all, YouTube Premium, which offers ad-free viewing, background playback and the ability to download videos for offline use, currently costs $11.99 / £11.99 / AU$14.99 per month.
Suffice to say, the subscription service hasn’t taken off in quite the way Google would’ve hoped since its launch in 2014. Only around 50 million users are currently signed up to YouTube Premium, while something close to 2 billion people actively use YouTube on a monthly basis.
Might the addition of 4K video into Premium’s perk package bump up that number? Only time will tell. We’ll be keeping an eye on our own YouTube account to see whether this resolution paywall becomes permanent in the coming months.
Axel is a London-based staff writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the newest movies to latest Apple developments as part of the site’s daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion.
Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned a gold standard NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.
USB-C has come a long way since its debut in 2014, now becoming the standard for charging and basic data transfer (on everything except the iPhone, of course!) as well as audio and video for more and more devices. The European Parliament, long enamored with the idea of a consumer- and environmentally-friendly standard for charging devices, is pushing it forward even further. A newly-passed law says that almost all portable electronics will need to charge via USB-C by 2026.
At this point, most new laptops already use USB-C charging, taking advantage of the standard’s flexibility to deliver a range of wattages up to 100 watts. There are two exceptions: the top of the market and the bottom. Cheap budget laptops are still sometimes equipped with less expensive, semi-proprietary barrel charging cables or something like Lenovo’s rectangular charger.
On the other hand, power-hungry laptops that need more than 100 watts still use proprietary connections for their massive adapters. The USB Implementers Forum is working on expanding that limit and some of these laptops can still charge slowly over USB-C. These are the only laptops that Europe will allow to be sold with proprietary chargers after the spring of 2026. While nothing forces manufacturers to follow this new law worldwide, streamlined manufacturing and economy of scale will effectively force the rest of the world to follow in practice if not in legislation.
Parliament posted its reasoning online (spotted by Windows Central), saying that this move will encourage technological innovation and give consumers access to more interoperability with a bonus that more easily-reusable cables and chargers means less electronic waste. The post estimates that it will help consumers save up to 250 million euro a year on new charger purchases.
The bigger news is that this move is likely to finally force Apple to abandon the Lightning connector for the iPhone, cheaper iPads, and a few lingering accessories. (Apple already uses USB-C charging on most iPads and all Macbooks.) The switch for smaller mobile devices will happen by the end of 2024. This includes “all new mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers, e-readers, keyboards, mice, portable navigation systems, earbuds and laptops that are rechargeable via a wired cable.” (Note: This technically creates a loophole for any device that recharges via wireless only.) That should give laptop manufacturers plenty of time to flush out the remaining old-fashioned chargers from their assembly lines.
Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.