Do you remember what life was like without your smartphone? Yet this technology did not exist 15 years ago. In my business lifetime I have witnessed several significant innovations that changed the way I worked… the copier (yes I am that old), the computer, the laptop, the Internet, the cell phone, and the smartphone… all ground breaking and now the norm.
In the five short years since I started a technology company, I see first hand just how quickly things change. As a result, I have to think about what WILL change so my company doesn't fall behind. Therefore I want to share some thoughts on the forces that are changing our industry. Each is important... and have the potential to put you ahead or behind your competition.
They are changing the workplace just as the boomers did two generations ago. They want better tools (think mobile software applications) and better pay (they want careers where they can afford things)… and they will work for companies that provide that. If you want to attract and retain these people you need to embrace technologies that they like to use and that can allow them to produce more... so they can earn more. I am willing to bet that within the next few years the best Account Managers in the industry will be paid $100K per year... and be worth every cent!
#2. Business Intelligence / Artificial Intelligence
There are software applications that exist right now that do more than produce management reports. These applications interpret information and make recommendations. These software applications will alert you to problems and opportunities and suggest solutions. For example, instead of just getting a nice P&L statement from your software, you may get an alert that your hourly labor bid rate is lower than your actual pay rate and recommend (and make) updates to your estimating system.
#3. The Cloud
The cloud facilitates integration of applications that currently do not “talk” to each other. Consider this… your crew uses their phone to inform the shop about an equipment problem. The shop “sees” it, references an on-line repair manual which notifies a dealer that a part is needed. The repair is made and recorded in the shop... and all that information is shared with the manufacturer so they can make design improvements and deliver targeted training for your foremen.
They obsoleted an entire industry. No longer do you worry about when your ride will arrive, who the driver might be, and how much it will cost. You know right now! Apply that same concept to something as simple as irrigation repair services. Your customer or crew leader identifies an issue, it is assigned to the closest tech, the customer is notified and can watch "progress" of the repair, the tech completes the service, the invoice and notes are generated, and the customer approves it and pays it online.
They are the market place to the world. Amazon provides choice, competitive pricing, and easy ordering and delivery. This same concept will work in our industry. Your estimating and purchasing software will be “synced” with a virtual marketplace. When you complete a project estimate the purchasing application will “release” and RFQ to a marketplace of vendors where they will “bid” on it… prices are confirmed, the order is processed and money exchanges hands… a streamlined process that reduces mistakes and paperwork... everyone is more productive.
These forces and technologies are shaping where our industry needs to, and will go. They will change the way we all do business. The end result is good for everyone… the customer, your company, and your suppliers and vendors. In five years these groundbreaking forces and technologies will be the norm. Don’t get left behind.