The disruption of the waste management industry is accelerating

Over the last two decades, technology has slowly but constantly become more embedded in our lives. As this has happened, this has also led to the costs continuing to fall, while the range of potential uses has dramatically increased.

Technology and the Internet have transformed industries, helped enable entirely new business models and are continuing to do so. Additionally, expectations have changed across all stakeholder groups. One key area of change is that now people are data aware and increasingly expect greater transparency and value. I believe that this rise in the use of technology is here to stay and that best way forward it to learn to derive value and benefit from it rather than deny or ignore its impact.

It is a powerful opportunity for all industries including waste management to harness this for their benefit.

I bet that some of your competitors are already embracing change. If you are not, it is time to ask yourself what impact there could be on my business and my customers if I am left behind? Digitization is disrupting every traditional business. No exception. Digitization does not mean using technology to enable old business models but rather reinventing or rethinking business models.

Commercially viable Innovation consists of an invention that has a tangible and useful application. Companies bringing genuine innovation like Amazon, Netflix, AirBNB and others have been handsomely rewarded as they delivered benefits to their customers.

In waste management the technology to drive efficiency, reduce costs and create new data driven value is mature, affordable and already working in many countries across the globe. Look around you, I guarantee you will find many examples; adoption is growing every day. We’ve already crossed the chasm!

This technology can help everyone (Haulers, Cities, Waste Brokers, Waster producers, Facility Management companies, etc) create more value to their customers, enhance their business as well as helping them deliver clear transparent data.  For some it is about efficiency and cost reduction, for others is is more about insight and new value added services through data, for some it is a defensive move and for others an offensive move to grab bigger market share by bringing to their customers, innovation and value their competitors are not able to offer.

This new data driven approach is bringing a myriad of possibilities. The data allows us to identify and unpick the value chain of waste. It also allows us to determine which is the most important aspect to us and this is different for different stakeholders. It may be seeking efficiency or gathering data or better asset management.

While technology is surely able to bring lots of value, it is important to acknowledge that without a will to change it can not do so. This is an evolutionary process that happens over time as stakeholders and users buy into this change. To ensure success, cities and companies need to take the information they gather via technology and work with the people involved to re-invent processes and adjust the way they do their day job to harness the most benefit.

The benefits in achieving this can be transformational as we’re already observing with our growing customer base. Being open to change and managing this change well are proving critical for scale and speed of adoption.

Whilst considering the opportunities for waste management, it’s also helpful to look at how technological shifts have transformed other industries. Nokia is a classic cautionary tale of a company that didn’t change rapidly enough as the world around it did. By not quickly changing with the market shift to smartphones, Nokia value, sales and market share plummeted in a very short period of time. In the same period Apple went from a company that was in deep trouble to becoming the most valuable in the world as they made sure they were leading this change.

AirBNB is another example that has used technology and the internet to open up an entirely new category for travel reacting to changing consumer needs. AirBNB has helped create more options for travellers, which encourages more travelling and helps those supplying the rooms to generate income from what historically was a non or underutilized asset.

Netflix, Apple TV (and the like) have changed the way we “consume” television series and films with their monthly fee for unlimited streaming of TV and films on demand. We decide what to watch, when to watch it and how long it will take us to watch it. Consumers  have embraced this flexibility, choice, and value for money.

Customers need and expectations are changing and technology allows us to meet such new needs and expectations. Words that come to my mind when I say this are: choice, transparency, value, on demand, efficiency, sustainable and innovative.

At Enevo, we believe waste industry is being transformed and we are at the forefront of this transformation. We are listening to our customer needs and bringing to them new ways of being efficient, transparent, sustainable and innovative.

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