5 things that will change the way we do business

November 12, 2018 -  By
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Technology cloud (Photo: iStock.com/gorodenkoff)

Photo: iStock.com/gorodenkoff

In my business lifetime, I’ve experienced many innovations that changed the way I worked: the copier (yes, I’m that old), the computer, the laptop, the Internet, the cell phone and the smartphone. These technologies were all once considered groundbreaking and are now the norm.

In the five short years since I started a technology company, I can see firsthand just how quickly things change. As a result, I have to think about what will change so my company doesn’t get left behind. Therefore, I want to share some thoughts on the forces that will change the way we do business in our industry. Each is important and will make us more efficient and professional.

1. Millennials

They are changing the workplace just as the boomers did two generations ago. They want better tools and better pay, and they will work for companies that provide those things. To attract and retain millennials, you need to embrace mobile software applications so they can manage more and you can pay them more. I am willing to bet that within the next few years, the best account managers will be paid $100,000 per year.

2. Business and artificial intelligence

There are software applications that exist right now that do more than produce management reports. These applications interpret reports and make recommendations. In the future, there will be applications that alert you to problems and suggest solutions. For example, instead of just a 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 it will recommend (and perhaps make) updates to your estimating system.

3. The cloud

The cloud facilitates the integration of systems that do not currently “talk” to each other. Consider this example: Your crew uses their phones to inform the shop about an equipment problem. The shop “sees” the information and references an online repair manual that notifies a dealer that you need a part. After the repair has been made and recorded, all that information is visible to the manufacturer, who can then use it to address design and training issues.

4. Uber
This company made an entire industry obsolete. 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 gets assigned to the closest technician, the information goes to the customer, the tech completes the service, the invoice and notes are generated and sent to the customer and it gets paid online.

5. Amazon

With Amazon, you get many choices, competitive prices and easy ordering and delivery. This same marketplace concept will work for our industry. Imagine your estimating and purchasing software will sync with a virtual marketplace. You complete your project estimate, which integrates with a purchasing application that releases it to the marketplace where material and equipment vendors bid on it. Next, prices are confirmed, the order is processed and money exchanges hands—a streamlined process that reduces mistakes and paper, all while making your people more productive.

These forces and technologies are shaping where our industry needs to—and will—go. They will change the way we do business. The 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.

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About the Author:

Kevin Kehoe, a longtime landscape industry consultant, is managing partner at Aspire Software.

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