30 January 2019 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
The waste management and recycling industry is "less than enthusiastic about its own success in making the digital transformation", according to waste and recycling software company AMCS's Digital Transformation Barometer 2018.
This is especially true for the application of new technologies, such as route optimisation, online customer portals and Business Intelligence.
Most companies gave themselves a grade of 'unsatisfactory' in these areas. The analysis states this is "surprising given that 64 per cent of those surveyed expect an increase in their IT budgets". In fact, 20 per cent expected an increase of over 5 per cent.
More than 80 per cent of participants - regardless of whether they are municipalities or private sector waste management companies - believe that digital innovation is important for their business success.
At the top of their priorities list is improving customer satisfaction (73 per cent) and increasing productivity (72 per cent). In addition, more than half (52 per cent) also indicated that improving sustainability is a big priority. But to achieve this, the most important issue by far for management is how to organise the operational process, in terms of both harmonisation and digitalisation. Obsolete legacy IT systems, implementing a paperless organisation, and creating a culture open to change are the main barriers.
Mark Abbas, chief marketing officer for AMCS, said the research shows that there are five elements that are "critical to success in transitioning into a digital organisation".
He added: "Besides engaged employees and a management team that gives people the space to innovate, it is very important to have a comprehensive understanding of the digital trends and advancements in the value chain. It is also down to a smart application of new technology within the organisation and using (reliable) data to make decisions."
Key findings from the benchmark:
1. Digital transformation requires leadership in change management
The results of the survey show that leaders in the waste management industry clearly understand the importance of 'soft' factors, such as leadership and employee engagement, in making the transition.
2. The digital part of digital transformation the real challenge
Unlike the softer aspects such as leadership, it is exactly the 'harder' technical aspects of transforming the organisation, as in using Business Intelligence (BI) and data science or applying new technology, that form the biggest challenge. When it comes to the application of emerging technologies, 60 per cent of respondents gave themselves a failing grade. Average scores for business information were slightly better, but nearly half (45 per cent) still gave themselves a grade of unsatisfactory.
3. Legacy systems are the greatest barrier to successful digital transformation
For 54 per cent of organisations surveyed, it is the problem of legacy software and systems that creates the greatest barrier to a full implementation of the digital transformation.
Research participants were asked to rate their organisation on a variety of statements that measure progress on the five elements of success in digital transformation. The average score on the 10-point scale was a mere 6,3. The barely passing grade clearly indicates there is much room for improvement in the industry, concludes the report.