The future is with us

6th of April 2017 Article by Lynn Webster
The future is with us

ECJ's UK correspondent Lynn Webster examines the issues around ‘connected cleaning’, and emphasises how the cleaning sector must act now.

Hardly a day goes by without a new piece of technology being launched or old favourites updated. Each promises the user an enhanced experience, in relation to dealings with a service or product provider, or an aspect of individual lifestyle. The early adopter is now the person who has been involved in testing the latest innovation, rather than the first person in the queue outside the glossy retail palace.

The first flurry of excitement dies down and the innovative technology quickly becomes redundant to a proportion of its users. Those used-twice, if at all, apps are uninstalled during train journeys. The icons on the tabs and command bar that suddenly appeared when a software package was inconveniently updated remain untouched, gateways to additional features we didn’t know we needed – because we didn’t.

Everyone needs time to come to grips with the new features, the new technology, and time is always at a premium. We can often feel that while these innovations might seem interesting there is something that doesn’t quite ring true. The crucial questions that we need to ask of every innovation: Which problem(s) does this solve? Which question(s) does this answer? If one of my problems is lack of time, does this technology release time, or is any potential benefit lost in the setting up phase or the cost?

Those of us in the industry face a raft of problems on an all too regular basis. We are repeatedly asked a host of questions by suppliers, customers, stakeholders, questions to which we need to find answers or to include ‘innovation’ in bids. Technology in all its forms is increasingly presented to us offering the ideal solution and the perfect answer, but do we always confirm if this is the case?

An ‘internet of clean’ is evolving that has far-reaching implications for our industry. An example is the introduction of remote management systems which apply the principles of telemetry, utilising the technology of the everyday. Telemetry allows us to: drive and improve quality through the provision of rich data; use the geographical location facility to identify under-utilised resources; respond to the unexpected promptly and efficiently.

Asset management

Claims as to the efficacy of telemetry include its significant contribution to asset management and resource planning processes. Applying the which problem/which question model to current and potential technologies for the industry is therefore a valuable exercise, and even more valuable when carried out jointly by client and supplier.

In our daily lives we no longer think twice about organising a taxi to collect us from a corner five metres from where we’re standing, checking football scores in a queue, sending flowers to a loved one from the late-running train. The points that technology intersect with our daily lives are innumerable and multiplying all the time.

It is essential therefore that we are equipped to determine which technologies are right for the industry, our clients and our business. We don’t have the luxury of the time, and the associated costs of this time, to do otherwise. The technology of today may potentially be the dinosaur of tomorrow.

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