Keeping an eye on new technology

06 April 2023

Technology today plays a big part in everybody’s life, very few people do not have a smartphone, a tablet or a laptop and how much do we all use the internet for quick delivery of items we apparently need urgently? Neil Spencer-Cook asks: “Does the cleaning and hygiene industry use technology to its best advantage?”

I KNOW that the larger players in the industry have made major inroads into technology, and with dispensing machines able to notify you when they are low on stock, presence sensors in rooms and a number of bespoke apps and reporting tools developed in-house to give the large FM suppliers the competitive edge when competing for work but there isn’t a level playing field with technology. There are also many off-the-shelf options for the smaller soft service companies to buy and use, are these the right tools?

Is technology the answer though?  Does an owner-managed cleaning company need the technology to do a good job for their clients?  Does technology increase the cost for the client? 

Cost-saving benefits

I am a big fan of technology and there are many cost-saving benefits for any type of business when they use technology to its best advantage. No longer are office staff hunched over the spreadsheet trying to work out their sales conversions if they use an efficient program for their client relationships, no longer do accountants have to use manual ledgers to record every financial transaction, and in the main, there are no longer walls of filing cabinets keeping every business document. 

But how long has this taken to achieve? I can confirm from my experience it was not overnight, or even in a few years, for the smaller businesses, the technology available at an accessible level and cost to do this has only been around in the last 10 and in some cases five years. Smaller businesses may not have been able to access the technology as they didn’t have the technical know-how within the business to understand how to do these tasks and employing people who did was expensive. 

The advances in technology have meant that many more people are able now to understand how to achieve this and I think this is great. The younger generations can understand much more technology-wise and much quicker as for them it is what they have grown up with, not the green screen and complicated hoops to jump through that some of us may remember. 

New technology vs traditional techniques

It is important to remember that whatever we do in the cleaning and hygiene industry technology will eventually catch up with all of us, but I do feel that there are some in the industry who are disparaging of old techniques and systems that have been about for years. I agree with those who say a scrubber drier can outperform manual mopping, but does that mean that manual mopping is not effective, we have been doing it for years, have we been walking around on dirty floors for years because that is what some imply? 

If you talk about the “internet of things” to all cleaning professionals, do they know what this means? Like all things education is key until someone says these things to you, and you go and “google” it to understand what they mean (or is that just me?) how can you be expected to know? Can the busy professional who is focusing on the worries of making ends meet, keeping their staff paid and meeting the rising bills in these difficult times, be expected to be on top of all technology advances?

Finally, are all your clients as technologically advanced as some of you are, are you ahead of the curve with some of your clients? 

Remember in life everyone is different and we accept these differences, isn’t there a place for differing businesses too and shouldn’t they be accepted for who they are and what they do? Not judged for being less technologically advanced.

Neil Spencer-Cook is chief operating officer at BICSc.

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