Our world has become so technologically driven in the past decade that it’s almost hard to remember going back to the “old way of doing things.” Agriculture has not been immune to the influence of technology. Precision agriculture, variable rate technology, auto steering and mobile phone apps have all contributed to the advancement of sciences within the ag industry.

Smartphones, iPads and other similar devices are making an impact on our industry. Apps for smartphone devices are increasing exponentially, it seems. But their usefulness is allowing for greater improvements in how agricultural tasks get done.

Agribusiness has thoroughly embraced the use of cell phones, smartphones and apps, as recently discovered in polling agricultural professionals on the AgProfessional Web site. According to respondents of one of our questions, 68 percent said they could not live without their cell phone for doing business. Twenty-seven percent said they could live without their phone and 5 percent said they maybe could live without their cell phone for business.

That’s a fairly significant percent that rely heavily on their cell phones for business.

What’s interesting is that although cell phone use for business within the industry is high, many rank the usefulness of social media for business as low. When asked, have you found social media to be useful for you in doing business?, the largest  percentage (47 percent) said not at all. Only 21 percent said definitely yes, and 32 percent said they were still trying to determine its usefulness.

Despite the high adoption of cell phones and the increasing adoption of smartphones, I wonder if this is making communications easier or less personal. It is no secret that e-mails, texts, Twitter and online chats are great tools for business. However, younger business people seem to be using this method of communication more and doing less face-to-face communication.

The agriculture business has always had a foundation of looking someone in the eye and sealing a deal with a handshake. Bonds are formed and trust given or earned. Can that happen via e-mail or text?

Ag retailers constantly hear about personalizing their service and expertise. Is that conveyed well through e-mails and texts? I suspect that one-on-one interaction is still where the majority of business takes place.

Outside of agriculture, many people have almost become phone adverse, preferring to send a text or e-mail rather than calling someone directly. Sending multiple e-mails back and forth can often take longer to communicate ideas than having a short phone conversation. And who hasn’t been the victim of writing or receiving an e-mail taken in the wrong spirit than was intended?

Has technology made us adverse to actually talking to one another? Studies show that of all customer service options, phone support consistently yields the best results, according to Michael Hess, writer for CBS News. Tony Hsieh of Zappos.com says in his bestselling book, “The telephone is one of the best branding devices out there.”

So, with all of the advancements in technology even in agriculture, it might pay for ag retailers to remember to polish up their phone skills.

As technology becomes more and more complicated, one way to help your agribusiness stand out is by making communicating with your business simple and easy. The phone should be your tool of choice.

E-mails and texts have their place in business, but they seem to have replaced the phone as the communication tool of choice. But of all the tools, it’s the most personal and likely most effective for doing business in agriculture. Don’t let a phone call become the extinct way of doing business, like the dodo bird.