Fabio, behind the scenes of the xFarm app
Fabio, what do you do in xFarm?
Together with the mobile team, I work on the development of our app both for Android and iOS devices.
What is the number one priority in your job?
For sure reaching the final users with a high quality app, which works well no matter what. This means simplifying farmers’ lives and helping them to do their job, in particular regarding the collection and management of data useful for decision making.
Why is it so important to have a mobile app?
The mobile app is a market requirement: everyone has a smartphone nowadays. Using exclusively desktop apps does not allow to work directly from the field, in real time. The mobile app thus gives access to a service such as the one offered by xFarm.
There is a huge difference, also in terms of development, between web and mobile app. The mobile version doesn’t have some functions available on desktop, such as some tables, while, when operating from a computer, some features such as the tractor connection are not available since they are useful only on mobile devices.
What about your education?
I am basically self-taught. I got the passion for programming from my family. When I was 12 I already wanted to create my first computer games. My final essay in highschool was about a mobile application – a digital school diary. After I graduatad from highschool, I decided to start working immediatly and I learnt more on app development for iOS and integration with server side systems.
How did you end up working for xFarm?
The first contact with xFarm occurred through the web agency which commissioned me the development of the xFarm app. Then, when the mobile team needed to grow, Salvatore (CTO) and Matteo (CEO) bet on me.
I felt very close to the project since I saw it growing from the beginning and then overcoming 30k subscriptions. It was my first project reaching so many people, so I wanted to bring it to a higher and higher level. Moreover, I was attracted by the idea of working in a team.
How is the work environment?
I currently live in Biella and I mostly work remotely. When I go to our office in Milan, I find a frenzied environment, but with very firm and defined goals. You can feel there is the need to bring a valuable product to farmers. We are the first testers of the product, thus it happens to be in the field to test the different features before making them available to the clients.
Our team is widely distributed in the territory. It is a need, since, unfortunately, mobile development is a sector in which it is complicated to find some colleagues operating in Milan. Nowadays we are 4, all under 30.
How do you collect feedbacks from users?
We get a huge amount of feedbacks from farmers through our support chat. As for the new features, the product team, lead by Camilla, defines the requests directly with the clients, and then sends them to us. Together we come up with a project, which is then taken in charge to be realizad.
What are the main challenges in your job?
Connectivity: using the app with almost non existent connection is a challenge itself. The interactions with the IoT world, in particolar concerning the Android world, which is particularly fragmented.
Last but not least, usability: the app is used under the sunlight, at high temperatures, maybe even with a display with low brightness. It has thus to be developed taking into account these aspects.
The craziest thing that has happened to you since you have been in xFarm?
That time when we travelled across Italy with Daniele.
And when you are not working?
I am passionate with the blockchain world, so I sometimes take part to lectures and conventions about this topic and I like to keep myself updated with the technological advancements in this sector.
In xFarm we use the blockchain technology, mainly to track the agricultural supply chain, in order to know where, when and by whom the product has been treated. From the field to the end consumer.
What do you see in your future and in xFarm future?
I would like to grow together with the team, both in terms of numbers and professionally. We have a lot planned for 2023: new modules, new services from the R&D team. Moreover, we would like to make it easier to use the app even with a very bad or even non-existing connection, in order to operate directly from the field, whatever the situation.
Having the latest technologies on hand or installed on your tractor is a clear advantage for the farmer and for the whole agricultural sector. We are working more and more in this sense, even using Artificial Intelligence and trying to improve sustainability. In particular, we are concentrating on the development of image recognition algorithms, which will be applied to count the insects captured by traps, and predictive models for phytopathologies.