Opportunities for innovation - enter the European Cleaning & Hygiene Awards 2017

31st of May 2017
Opportunities for innovation - enter the European Cleaning & Hygiene Awards 2017

Sandra Sieber, professor at IESE Business School University of Navarra, writes for ECJ. Sieber was the keynote speaker at the inaugural European Cleaning & Hygiene Awards in Barcelona last September.

If you get some of the leading cleaning companies from across Europe together in a room and ask them about the use of technology in their industry, you might well get an underwhelming response. I know because that’s what I got when I asked at the European Cleaning and Hygiene Awards in Barcelona.

Although there are many instances of innovation and technology being developed, cleaning is still seen as a largely traditional, people-focused industry. In itself this is no bad thing, the personal touch is always appreciated, but the world is constantly evolving and the speed at which technology is dominating our everyday lives cannot be ignored.

Digital transformation is all around us. From drone cameras to mood changing LED lighting, our existence and daily activities are being (mostly) enhanced through the effective use of technologies.
As we’ve seen in other industries, those who don’t adapt to new technology and its uses can find themselves missing out on business to disruptive new competitors.

Technology has become ‘democratised’ and is now easily accessible by anyone with the ambition to harness it and take on industry incumbents. Just a few years ago you had to go to a shop to buy a book, now Amazon is one of the biggest businesses in the world and there are thousands of companies following in its wake, or looking to do so.

The easy access to technology has not only enabled more successful start-up companies, it has dramatically reduced the cost of setting up a new business. In 2000 it cost an average of $5,000,000 to start up a new business, by 2012 it had dropped to $50,000 and the trend has continued downwards ever since. If you don’t need a large investment in property, people or technology, getting a business off the ground suddenly becomes much easier, whatever the economic situation.

We live in an age of consumerisation where technology needs to be focused on the user experience. The generations who are coming of age are fully integrated with technology and to them it is a given. If no-one is supplying what they want, they can now do it themselves. It’s not just the so-called ‘Millennials’ this applies to. An increasing number of older people are also engaging in the technological revolution. The highest growth rate for digital banking use in the USA is the 65+ age bracket (where there are already 17.4 million users).

Applying the framework

Clearly there are opportunities to increase revenue and improve customer service to be generated from developing/implementing specific technologies.

The percentage of connections, interactions, and information per unit of social activity realised through digital technologies – known as ‘digital density’ – is rapidly increasing, so cleaning businesses need to be ready to take advantage.

To apply the digital transformation framework you need to how you can transform operational processes, client experiences and business models to match the levels of digital density.

The cleaning industry is not without its technical innovators already. ICE won the Groundbreaking Technological Innovation of the Year award at the European Cleaning and Hygiene Awards for its Robo 2 machine. Robo 2 has a precise navigation system which means it can operate independently and highly efficiently. Thanks to its laser and sensor technology, Robo 2 can detect its surroundings and clean even complex floor areas. This means human cleaning operatives are freed up to carry out other duties and enhance the service the customer receives.

Other finalists in the innovation category were FacilityApps for Internet of Things in Cleaning; Insider Facility Services for Kontroll Inside Active; and SmartView and Hospital Sant Pau, in Barcelona.
These apps and platforms help to transform the way cleaning services are delivered so that they work more effectively for staff and clients.

The range of innovation on display offers a glimpse of a positive technological future for the cleaning industry as long as it is prepared to meet the challenge.

To find out about entering this year’s awards visit: www.echawards.com/enter

There are two technology categories at the European Cleaning and Hygiene Awards; the ‘Best use of technology by contractors in their cleaning programme’ and the ‘Groundbreaking technological innovation of the year’.

If you or your business has developed or implemented new technology in the past 12 months, why not see whether you could be picking up an award in Rome? Details of the categories and how to enter are available at: www.echawards.com


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