A Swiss farm in a digital world

A Swiss farm in a digital world

It all started with a pumpkin…that grew into an exhibition, then a restaurant, followed by a farm roadshow and soon a full blown business. Over the last decade, the family-owned Jucker farm in Switzerland has transformed from a traditional fruit farm to a digitally-led modern medium-sized business, with multiple revenue streams, locations and innovative services. The magic wand in this transformation has been nothing more than an organic flair for business opportunities, brought to life with the help of Microsoft’s cloud technology.

With four locations, over 500 events a year, record-breaking pumpkin production and up to 300 employees seasonally, the Jucker farm has become a major sustainable tourist attraction and agricultural destination for Switzerland. Today’s result is no small feat. In the early 2000s, the farm was facing a serious challenge as its initial focus — apple production – wasn’t generating enough revenue. Martin Jucker, farmer and owner of Jucker Farm AG, tried out different crops before hitting an unexpected jackpot in the form of a gigantic pumpkin harvest.

 

Martin Jucker by Daniel KellenbergerWe piled up the pumpkins on our farmyard and soon realized that visitors were really excited about this new ‘pumpkin exhibition.’ In the following years, thousands of people visited the farm.
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– Martin Jucker –

 

With more visitors came more opportunities for growth, and the ‘pumpkin rush’ soon led Jucker to introduce new products and open a restaurant, gift shops, various event venues for corporate or family events and tourist attractions such as a giant walkable maze made with apple trees. Today, the Jucker farm welcomes up to 8000 visitors a day, and was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young in 2014.

As the “farm experience” expanded, so did the need for a solid ICT infrastructure. Mobility quickly became one of the key challenges as farm event venues expanded, so Jucker needed a solution that would allow his employees to communicate and collaborate seamlessly from any location. With the help of Vision-inside AG, Jucker decided to move to Microsoft Azure and Office 365. In doing so, he was able to reduce ICT costs, use the cloud’s flexible nature to improve work conditions, introduce a “bring your own device” culture, save time, maximize efficiency and focus on what truly matters – their guests.

And it didn’t take long for changes to start appearing within the team, with more employees working remotely accross the farm and interacting more seamlessly with each other. Jucker himself went for a Surface tablet and enjoys the huge freedom that comes with it: “I have a fully equipped working space always with me, and that is just amazing.”

“Processes became very smooth – a very important condition for the growth of any business.”

Farming is not a sector one would naturally associate with digital transformation and cutting-edge ICT, but for Martin Jucker it was all about not falling behind, and adapting for constant growth. “With a fast growing business, we quickly realised that our old infrastructure would just not cut it anymore. Actual solutions will always give better results, and it turned out to be crucial in order to maximise our efficiency and flexibility,” explains Jucker.

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The story that started with a pumpkin doesn’t end here, and Jucker is already thinking of the next big projects. They recently decided to take their products a digital step further by joining the fast-growing and innovative online organic store Farmy. He’s also thinking of scaling his concept and turning it into a “multinational ‘farm-roadshow’ travelling through different countries” to teach more people about farming, sustainability, the environment and much more. What once might have sounded like an unreachable dream is now all becoming very real thanks to the power of technology.

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