New way to access technology

New way to access technology

John Deere offers one of its first software-as-a-service products with release of new Generation 4 monitor for legacy tractors

When a company launches new technology, they roll out a lot of information at one time, which we try to share as quickly as possible. Last week John Deere launched its new S700 series combine and a few other tools, which we shared in an online gallery. Also included in that announcement, and we shared it, was the release of the 4640 Universal Display for tractors which enables customers of legacy machines to get Generation 4 features in a new monitor including AutoTrac, documentation and Section Control.

The Generation 4 display has already been released in the 3 Series sprayers and in the latest R Series tractors. The new S700 combine gets that display too. It includes an updated user interface that's a lot more intuitive than the 2630. But there was a new feature feature announced with that 4640 display, that's totally new for John Deere: you can buy services on a subscription basis rather than a one-time unlock fee.

"We offer subscriptions to JD Link and for GPS correction," said John Mishler, production and precision ag marketing manager, John Deere, during the company's big rollout. "But this is our first subscription for this type of service."

The idea is called Software as a Service - often abbreviated SaaS - and it's a new way to utilize technology and keep your system updated. Microsoft has been offering Office by subscription called Office 365. You still have the software on your computer, but you're paying to use it on an annual basis. The key there is that you're always using the latest version, and in some cases you may pay less.

The SaaS model is becoming more common in other industries and it appears with this 4640 John Deere is joining that movement. Mishler explained that there's a 1-year and a 5-year subscription. "But you can stack those to match your needs," he explained. "If you lease a machine for three years you can buy three one-year subscriptions. Or if you want to try something out for a year you can, and if that doesn't work you can try another approach."

There are two levels of subscription too. You can get AutoTrac or Precision Ag Core. With the second option you not only get AutoTrac but documentation and Section Control. If you only need auto-steering, the AutoTrac-only may be the right subscription buy. Mishler noted that John Deere is the only supplier to offer machine-based precision ag subscriptions that allow you to select the software you want and the duration of the subscription.

This legacy display works with John Deere 30 series to the latest 6R, 7R, 8R and 9R series tractors, but it can also work with machines compatible with AutoTrac Universal and AutoTrac Controller competitive tractors.

You'll be hearing more about Software as a Service in the future. It's a way to get the latest tools for your farm and match them to your needs. If you want to know more about the Generation 4 4640 Universal Display, visit johndeere.com/ag

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