Why digitalisation lies at the heart of smart resource management

Digitalisation is certainly the key to the future success of the waste management sector.
Why digitalisation lies at the heart of smart resource management

With this in mind, changing attitudes are resulting in more companies realising the associated commercial and environmental benefits of using products such as AMCS's cloud and software platform, designed for the solid waste, recycling and material resources industries.

The number of environmental, economic, political and social factors simultaneously impacting the waste and recycling industry means that it is arguably evolving faster than ever before. Changes in policy and public attitude have resulted in waste and resources commanding an unprecedented amount of attention in the media and the boardroom.

The role the sector has to play in helping us meet the need for resources is now widely recognised and as a result it has become integral in the move from linear to sustainable business models and the development of a more circular economy. As a result, increasingly sophisticated technologies and IT platforms are now required to support this transition.

The need for resources is not the only driver. Escalating costs associated with operating a modern waste collection and processing business means that efficiency across all areas is vital to their commercial viability. Increasingly digital-savvy customers also now expect the same degree of digital interaction and functionality they experience in all other aspects of their lives.

Digitalisation also has an important role in providing businesses with a degree of security. The rise of tech disruptors in the waste management business shows that the biggest threat to most businesses is often from companies that are yet to be founded, or from established waste management companies that relentlessly embrace digitalisation to move their business forward.

AMCS’s recent Digital Transformation Barometer report showed that over 60% of waste management companies gave themselves a ‘failing grade’ when it came to the application of new technologies. While this is naturally a concern, it is also positive to see that it has been recognised.

There are also heartening signs that things are beginning to change. Certainly, the fact that 64% of those surveyed expected to see an increase in their IT budgets is a positive signal in terms of investment capability. In fact, 20% expected an increase of over 5%.

Even more encouraging is the fact that 80% of participants in the report believed digital innovation is important for their business success. At the top of their list of priorities is improving customer satisfaction (73%) and increasing productivity (72%). In addition, more than half of respondents (52%) also indicated that improving sustainability is a big priority.

Adopting a different mindset

So, what are those businesses that have embraced digitalisation doing in order to improve their commercial and environmental performance? 

One of the first things to note is that they have been successful in adopting a mindset that is open to change. Businesses and business leaders that embrace change are far more likely to have adopted more robust and flexible business models than those who view it as a necessary evil or choose to bury their heads in the sand.

The research provides some further valuable insights into companies that have chosen to take the lead in digital transformation. This group approaches digital transformation in a completely different way and has a very different set of priorities from the rest. 

These operations are already very nearly paperless, using digital invoicing systems and employing self-service web portals for their customers. They are also more likely to be using other digital techniques and applications, such as RFID, GPS monitoring, route optimisation and mobile technology.

While digitalisation is not something that can be achieved overnight, there are some proactive steps that businesses can take to start to prepare and ease the adoption of new technologies. 

On a very practical level a move to the cloud can be a valuable and highly effective first step for most operators. Cloud-based systems provide the ability to be far more flexible and support change at a far greater rate than local systems. They also more easily enable the adoption of IoT, AI and other pioneering technologies.

Looking forward, waste management companies can carry on as they are and pray that they are able to manage any disruption when it occurs. Alternatively, they can be proactive and make changes that can both protect their businesses and support their continued growth.

While securing these resources and skills in-house may be unrealistic for the majority of businesses, there are businesses like AMCS that are able to guide them through this process and support them in the development of a more efficient, flexible and ultimately profitable business model that is fit for the future.

This article was written by Mark Abbas, chief marketing officer and business development at AMCS, sponsors of the Smart Waste, Smart Resources conference. It originally appeared on recyclingwasteworld.co.uk in September 2019.