Simplicity is the new buzzword in the cattle industry. It seems that every new program or idea has to be couched under the blanket of simplicity. That’s understandable, given today’s complex environment. However, it is also one of the most misinterpreted terms in the industry.

Simplicity in today’s world is actually an incredible array of complexity that is simple in its implementation but not in its creation. Like our smart phones, which have more computing power than the computers that got us to the moon, simplicity is in the use and interface, while the complexity and power of what those hand-held computers can do is expanding at a phenomenal rate. 

In reality, the marketplace abhors simplicity and is demanding a whole new level of sophistication. In today’s world, general or simplistic solutions are seen as being worthless. Customers demand and expect more, especially as it relates to return on investment. The product has to be more sophisticated, more accurate and add more value than ever before, but using the product is expected to be painless and easy.

This point was brought home with the discussion at the latest American Angus Association (AAA) convention and their new feeder calf marketing program.

It seems that we all want, even demand, simplicity. Yet simplicity also equates to irrelevancy because the marketplace is demanding accuracy and sophistication. The reason that many feeder calf marketing programs have failed in the past can largely be assigned to one of two things. Either they were too simple and did not have enough value in the marketplace, or they were too cumbersome and as a result were not implemented. 

The great irony is that simplicity is really disguising complexity. Marketing cattle requires more work and more substance than ever before. In today’s world, the competitive demands are immense and information has made the market far more fluid and reflective of value relationships.

The days of using marketing might to effect change are no longer there—marketing is crucial, but the basic premise is in delivering value above and beyond what the marketplace is already providing. And in today’s world, we can access more information and more value at a lower cost point than ever before. Information flow has been rendered virtually cost free and ubiquitous. It comes down to the value of your data set and your ability to create value from that data set.

The AAA program is in its infancy and a long way from being finalized conceptually. Undoubtedly, there will need to be a lot of forethought to how this program will eventually be constructed. Everyone wants the solution to be simple to implement, but demands that it answer complex issues.