The cannabis industry is one that is showing tremendous growth as states across the country consider and pass legislation regarding the legalization of medical and/or recreational cannabis. With the changing views on marijuana, among other things, the time is ripe to consider the potential scope of a new industry.
The cannabis industry is a multi-billion dollar industry dominated by a few large producers, with other significant players being found in the oil, edibles and extracts sectors. The CannaTech industry, however, is looking to find a way to improve the methods of the larger growers and reduce the cost of doing business.The average laptop takes about one billionth of a second to add two numbers. That’s far less time than it takes to blink or take a sip of coffee. In fact, it can be said that there are few activities that computers cannot perform faster than humans. Unfortunately, machines cannot do everything we ask of them. Machines are faster than ever, but it can take years for a human to know which question to ask – this is the great paradox of modern computing. This is especially true in the cannabis industry, where things often seem to move slowly, when they can be solved quickly with technology.
Looking at the performance of the industry, it has been on a downward trend over the past three years as the initial hype and promise has been replaced by a less rosy reality. And while everyone knows that something needs to be put right and the problems addressed, it seems to take a long time to develop coherent plans to remedy the situation. As a technologist working in this industry, I can only describe this approach as infuriating. It doesn’t have to be this way. One of the biggest problems I see is that many cannabis companies have multiple technology platforms that are not aligned. In other words: A retail software system may not integrate with an accounting system or a supply chain management system. And yes, paper media, spreadsheets and whiteboards fall under my definition of technology here – these are the most commonly used tools by salespeople. You have to look at data from different systems and try to make sense of it. And all of this must happen before companies can even take concrete steps to solve specific problems or begin optimization. There’s nothing wrong with using multiple technology solutions, but it only makes sense if they can be easily connected and provide executives with the real-time data they need to make decisions. A lack of communication adds several cycles to the process, and it can take weeks or months for management to get the information they need, which may then be out of date. Collecting the right data in one place is important, but it’s only half the battle. Managers must be able to derive meaning from information. The easiest way to do this is to offer them a single pane of glass that allows them to view the information they need in one place without having to switch from one system to another. When you look at a Vincent Van Gogh painting, you don’t first see the full yellow version, the second blue version, and the third full green version – you see them all together to get the full picture. The same should be true in the digital world: Leaders need to be able to see everything in one place and compare apples to apples. The good news is that not only is it possible, but it takes a lot less effort than you might think. For decades, the standard approach to modernization has been to replace old systems with new ones. It’s a good idea in theory, but ask any IT professional about their experiences in practice and you’ll hear a lot of horror stories. In recent years, however, the advent of cloud technology, mobile apps, SaaS, and APIs (forgive the big words, but I’m a techie and deserve credit for getting almost to the end of the article without using acronyms) has made it possible for companies to leave their legacy systems intact and easily add tools that allow them to better collect and use data and integrate it more efficiently. There is an old saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and that is certainly true in the world of technology. No matter how good your systems are, they can work as fast and efficiently as the slowest point in the process. In many cases, this delay occurs when replacing cumbersome paper and spreadsheet systems and during the integration phase, because the systems cannot communicate effectively with each other. By using modernization tools to bridge this gap, cannabis companies will finally have the real-time information they need to make effective decisions that drive revenue growth.
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