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So, what is so exciting about the cleaning industry after all?11th of September 2013 Article by Dr Ilham Kadri
Dr Ilham Kadri, president of the Sealed Air institutional and laundry business - Diversey - since the beginning of 2013, writes her first blog for ECJ. She offers her initial observations of the professional cleaning sector and examines the opportunities as she sees them.
I have spent the past nine months learning as much as I can about this fascinating industry. My 20 years of professional background in the chemical industry have helped me to grasp the challenges and opportunities within the hygiene, cleaning and health care sectors quickly. And yes, I am convinced that opportunities are real, that the innovative players in the sector will win and that investments are worthwhile.
It is no surprise that there has been more innovation around chemical application and delivery systems than formulation design. This is also true within the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry.
But the one thing that I have been very surprised about is the low level of adoption of fully integrated systems. We do not make our cleaning machines 'speak' to the chemicals, or use tools and equipment that guide housekeepers to perform tasks efficiently. We also do not use advanced technologies to train employees, regardless of the language or location.
Innovating around fully-integrated systems and training tools will significantly enhance productivity, and improve the levels of cleanliness, health and safety within facilities.
I am not saying anything groundbreaking if I state that the first step to understanding what drives value for your customers... is asking them. Our industry is spending too long on pricing debates and not enough time on value debates. We need to capture data to understand what is important to our customers and what opportunities we have to create value for them.
We need to create value through innovative solutions delivering operational efficiency and lower total costs to our customers. This is called the 'value in use,' and I make a plea for a serious rethink of the way our industry is designing value propositions in deal making. Pricing is the game of the customers, and efforts in having them valuing our solutions will pay off for the whole industry and for sustainability.
Sustainability is critical to our planet's future; yet it's a buzz word in our industry. I have spent hours with customers and industry experts, and what they demand is not another 'green' cleaning product, but solutions that address the real challenge for our planet and for our pockets: reduce resource consumption, packaging and transport, recycling while being cost effective.
Our customers are miles ahead of us: they want to differentiate through becoming more sustainable. And our industry needs to be more creative to help them optimiae their operations, improve performance, use fewer natural resources and reduce costs. Sustainability should mean profitability, and I am calling on hygiene and cleaning industry leaders to work collaboratively to define sustainability as we need to find a common language.
In summary, I am surprised that many within our industry have been slow to adopt best practices within their organisations around sustainability. And I am very excited to be part of this new generation of organisations focused on improving the environment. I am convinced that we are the last generation who has the luxury to make decisions about sustainability. Therefore we have no time to waste!