Efforts towards creating a sustainable future in farming.

Efforts towards creating a sustainable future in farming..


The exam case: Lely
Lely, a Dutch company founded in 1948, directs all its efforts towards creating a sustainable, profitable, and
enjoyable future in farming. Farmers all over the world make choices about how they set up and run their
farms. Every day, Lely tries to help them make the best choices for themselves and their farms. Focusing on
the cow, the company develops robotics and data systems that increase animal welfare, flexibility, and the
production on the dairy farm. Over the last 25 years, Lely has been leading in the sale and service of
automated milking systems to successive generations of dairy farmers across the globe. Every day, Lely aims
to offer customers innovative solutions and, on top of that, wants to be a reliable partner for long-term advice
and support. With its Head office in The Netherlands, the Lely Group is active in more than 40 countries and
employs around 1.200 people. See for more information
With their innovative solutions Lely has been able to build a solution concept for farmers that allow them to
closely monitor and manage cow health. Dubbed Time for Cows (T4C), the solution (see also Figure 1) is
especially designed for automatic milking with the Lely Astronaut. It also links to other Lely equipment,
such as the Lely Vector automatic feeding system. T4C translates data from the barn into usable information
for a clear insight into the results of a farmer’s work. Reliable data that the farmer can use to make the right
decisions. For immediate operations in the barn among the cows or for the longer term. In both cases,
business optimization is key. As such, the solution can be seen as a digital platform where information (and
more) is exchanged between the cows and the farmer.
Figure 1: Example of App created for Time for Cows to manage the farm.
Lely currently has a very strong market performance, but also sees many opportunities for the near future
given the rapid development of technology. One particular aspect they are re-considering is their relationship
with the dealers that sell the Lely products and solutions to their core target market, dairy farmers. Currently,
most sales go via a distributor network; dealers are called Lely Centers (see These dealers manage most of the customer contacts and as such also own most of the customer
insights, giving them a powerful position in the value chain.
Inspired by changes in the automobile industry, Lely sees some opportunities for introducing a platform
where two or multiple markets are being served. Especially going from a model of autonomous ownership to
a model of shared ownership (e.g., of milking robots or other products where the devices are shared amongst
farmers) looks promising (see Figure 2 for an example in the car industry). Such a shared ownership model
allows for many benefits, including data aggregation, subscription-based life-cycle management, and more.
Figure 2: Capabilities in the future states of mobility
The idea put forward by Lely sounds simple and promising (the benefits are clear), but also creates some
challenges. For example, many distributors and their sales forces (i.e., Lely Centers) may resist change as
they become irrelevant or get a predominantly serving role (see Figure 3). Furthermore, salespeople of Lely
may resist this new direction: How will it affect their sales position? Do they need other skills and/or
knowledge? The availability of data would allow Lely to build new AI-based tools that can be utilized to
improve the sales function. But the question is: How?
Figure 3: The future of mobility for auto retailers
Please use the following indicative structure in your answer (% indicate weights used in grading):
INDICATIVE STRUCTURE (see formal requirements in the exams section on
– Front-page:
a. The paper’s title (and subtitle, if any)
b. The type of paper (e.g. exam paper for a specific course)
c. The name(s) of the student(s) (must not be included on written assignments without an oral
d. Student number
e. The name of the program
f. Date of submission
g. The name of supervisor, if any
h. Number of characters/number of pages
– Abstract/summary
– Question 1 (10%): Provide an overview of problems and challenges for sales management (focus on
Lely themselves; not distributors) that are associated with Lely’s envisioned business model and
write a problem statement.
– Question 2 (20%): Discuss how you would diagnose the current situation from an AI perspective.
Provide a list of the key problems that you believe are most likely to arise.
– Question 3 (30%): Explain how you would design an AI solution to address one of the identified
problems in Question 2 and describe how this solution would look like.
– Question 4 (20%): Discuss the implementation of the AI solution and the type of resistance you
would expect from the salespeople. How would you deal with the identified type(s) of resistance?
– Question 5 (20%): Discuss how Lely can evaluate the performance impact of the AI solution. Which
ethical aspects does Lely need to consider?
For each of the questions above (1, 2, 3, 4, and 5), please provide your recommendations to Lely about the
best way to utilize AI solutions for sales management. Use sound arguments (logic), references (academic
and practitioner articles), and evidence (empirical data and numbers) to support your claims. When
appropriate, discuss why other options are less feasible (reflect upon and contrast different approaches). Use
the tools provided in this course and use them to visualize relevant aspects of the digital platform. It may also
be helpful to use other concepts, theories, tools, models, and approaches. In any case, provide argumentation
for your choices.
List of references
Remember to provide academic references in your answers. First and foremost you should use the mandatory
academic literature as references (use APA style referencing –; also see ‘Campus and Library -> Services Bibliographies and references’ on If
no suitable mandatory academic reference is available, you are also allowed to refer to lecture slides (for
instance, Van der Borgh (Lecture 2, 2020) or to additional literature references. You can also refer to
secondary data in your answers (for example, marketer, salesperson, or consumer comments on
blogs/forums). However, you are not supposed to contact or collect primary data from consumers or
Points can be subtracted for incorrect referencing and other issues related to writing and layout..
Make sure that your work is systematic; that the sections are explicitly aligned with each other, and that your
arguments are thorough and based on scientific evidence. Remember definitions and references.



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Efforts towards creating a sustainable future in farming.


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