The term data management has been tossed around a lot by many new and emerging companies who are trying to capitalize on this new market of Big Data in one way, shape, or form. But what really is Data Management and why should a person consider hiring someone to manage their data? In our perspective, data management is pretty simple. After you collect your as-applied data for the season, you organize it in a fashion that is useful to you. With agriculture desktop software like, SST or SMS, anyone can do this themselves and it is pretty easy. I typically recommend to organize the information into a farm and field hierarchy, store each as-applied map as it pertains to the individual year it was performed, and match this up with any other pertinent information such as soil types, soil tests, or boundaries. It is generally in your best interest to have a backup and store that backup in two different locations. One being in your personal PC and the other stored out of the office or home on a USB or external device.
Once you have the data well organized and managed, what do you plan to use it for? This is what separates the Data Management companies from those who are willing to sit down, analyze the data, and pull out valuable information. The grower themselves, are more than capable of managing and analyzing their own data. They know their fields better than anyone, they have a vested interest, and they are particularly interested in why certain portions of the field outperform other portions of the field. However, my experience has found that most growers do not want to perform those tasks. It is not that they do not have interest because they certainly do. I believe most of us who grew up in the farming industry and continue to make our livelihood in it, is because we enjoy being outside, in the field, and doing the hands on work. It is hard to get motivated to sit in front of a computer screen all winter, staring at data, and transferring files. This is why many growers choose to hire someone to do this for them. It is no different than a physically well abled person hiring a lawn company to mow their yard.
If managing your own data does not interest you, there are many companies who charge a small annual fee to manage it for you. However, if you are a grower who wants to capitalize on all of this data you are collecting, then I would suggest finding an agronomist who specializes in analyzing data. I would encourage finding an agronomist who can tell you more than yield by soil type or yield by hybrid but finding an agronomist who has the tools to dig into your data and find patterns, benchmark progress, and help achieve long term success.