How digital transformation is changing the game in the waste industry
Waste businesses are risking their existence by adopting ICT too little and too late compared to other industry sectors, digital innovation is changing the game. The impact of digital transformation on our industry was the bottom line during the Cleaner Planet Convention (CPC), organized by GMT/AMCS in Amsterdam.
Technology, ICT, and big data are playing increasingly important roles in most industries, and waste is no exception. They are a major part of improving the sustainability of our planet and the efficiency of doing business. Yet, companies in the waste and recycling industry are investing less than 1 percent of their revenue in ICT, explained Jimmy Martin, CEO of AMCS, at CPC 2016, The majority of funds are still spent on the procurement of trucks, containers, or installations, business as usual but not game-changing and not in line with other industries.
AMCS has grown rapidly over the last few years and acquired a variety of waste industry ICT disciplines. Some from in-house development but others via the acquisition of companies such as Transvision and GMT Europe. The company views itself as the organization to help waste companies make the transformation to the digital age. It achieves this by an integrated approach to digital change so companies can choose their own pace and priorities to deliver the benefits.
Digital transformation seems to be a challenge to many companies and is even considered a threat to some, as Mark Abbas, previous CEO of GMT and current CMO of AMCS, argued in his presentation at the CPC 2016. He brought 120 guests to the Nemo Science Centre in Amsterdam to remind them of companies like Kodak and Nokia, which did too little too late and did not survive such transformation. Pointing to the results of a report by Forrester Research showing that 47 % of the revenue of companies will be influenced by digitalization in 2020, Abbas advised waste companies to develop a strategy for ICT to ensure their existence and grow their business in a new phase of the digital competition where new players will appear who will disrupt the way you do business today.
What is the ICT future for the waste industry? The perspective of the customer is key to new business models, according to Abbas. For example, a restaurant had a spike of visitors with the consequence of overloading waste containers. If that waste was not collected quickly enough, the restaurant risked having to store the smelly and unhygienic overnight. Today the restaurant owner would call his waste collector and ask if they could find the time in their schedule to collect his refuse. In the future, that Abbas foresees, the problem of the restaurateur is solved instantly. The restaurateur registers his urgent need for waste collection in an app. automatic billing is fired up to quote for the work, collection routes are changed in real-time and the bins can be emptied that same evening.
By putting the desire of the client first, companies like Uber and Airbnb nailed it. The waste industry is developing in the same direction. Abbas directed our attention to the company Rubicon Global, known for the investments it got from actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio. Rubicon has developed an online platform and app, whereby waste collection can be managed on-demand. Without owning a single vehicle or container, the company has expanded across fourteen countries. To ensure innovative thinking and rapid growth, the CEO of Rubicon, Nate Morris involved the people behind Uber when he founded Rubicon. Even though there is a legislative hindrance, Rubicon may very well grow to be a force to reckon with in the near future and contribute to changing the game for the waste business.
Meeting the challenge
Digital transformation is not about a product, and not just about IT, It is a business model, a strategy, argues Abbas. Existing Systems of Record manage a lot of data and transactions today. They have been around for years and cover the whole operational process. But systems of record alone cannot facilitate digital transformation. Innovative waste companies understand that new generations of consumers interact in a different way. They form communities that collaborate, interact online and expect services to be available to them anywhere and at any time.
Linking reliable and robust systems of record with the digital tools, platforms, and apps to transform your business is what AMCS is all about, said Abbas. Pre-built web portals, mobile apps, integrated with systems of record, online analytics to present and analyze statistics, and an IoT layer to treat the big data that systems of customer engagement will generate.
This combined approach makes businesses more agile and facilitates rapid change without existing data disruption. Enabling implementation of new ideas and new strategies in days, not months or years.
Abbas believes the winners of the future in the Waste & Recycling industry will be those who succeed to implement the new systems of engagement and innovations on top of their systems of record. AMCS is committed to that goal to help its customers build the digital business models that will ensure their success.
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