Disruptive Technology

The recent PestTech conference had many great, informative discussions and speakers that were designed to help our industry rally around opportunities and challenges that technology brings to our businesses. One topic included a panel of speakers all talking about Disruptive Technology in the pest control industry.

Disruptive technology is defined as an innovation that creates a new market by applying a different set of values, which ultimately (and unexpectedly) overtakes an existing market. Netflix changed and ultimately took over the movie rental industry…Blockbuster Who!? Why would anyone call for a taxi when a cleaner, quicker, and maybe safer alternative is just a click away from their mobile device with Uber? Anyone remember Kodak? Kodak was a company that was founded in the year 1888, was over a 100 years old failed to see a disruptive technology and adapt.  Digital cameras and mobile printing apps rendered Kodak irrelevant and put them into bankruptcy. The question is how do we as an industry start looking for and identifying these disruptive technologies before they change our core business?

Apple, Amazon, and Google are investing resources into technologies that will deliver home services to consumers through home monitoring devices and apps. Even Facebook will be a key player in the game with CEO and Founder Mark Zuckerberg saying that his New Years Resolution is to create an Artificial Intelligence system that can be your personal assistant, running your home like Jarvis off the Iron Man movies. While I’m excited to be able to say “Jarvis, please schedule a company to clean my gutters” and have my home take care of coordinating its own maintenance needs…When I consider this technology and how it will impact my pest control business – or any other service provider for that matter – I see a disruptive technology. How will this technology find company’s and choose brands for it’s home? We rely on our online searches, friend referrals, etc. for lead flow. This initial interaction is an area where I think we could have the biggest disruption, an impact on our customer supply chain.

Home technologies and devices are becoming more accessible and affordable, and of course more convenient for our customers. Right now you are now able to set a geo fence around your home that will sense your proximity so that by the time you get home your lights are on, your air set to a comfortable level, door unlocked, and so on. Oh and by the way you can do all this with plug in devices for your whole house for less than $500. Home devices and technologies will soon become intelligent enough to distinguish between family members and guests within physical spaces and adapt to individual needs based on biometrics like fingerprints, body temperatures and even the rhythm of our own heartbeats. This will make home life more automated and convenient but also more efficient as it monitors your home’s health. If monitoring devices and smart apps can do all that – why wouldn’t it also tell you if there was a rodent problem in the attic and easily replace a technician’s onsite inspection of a home?

Wouldn’t Google, or any of the other brands I mentioned earlier, then send the home owner an alert letting them know that they have already scheduled a pest control company to come out and take care of the problem? Then when the technician arrived the system could tell him or better yet show him where it has been noticing the rodent activity. Basically this system could take over from us handling calls, scheduling and dispatch. That would be pretty disruptive if we dont readily adapt for that type of consumer. This isnt just a pest control industry issue this is a service industry issue, the same thing will take place with plumbers, electrians etc.
The more we, as an industry, can adapt and embrace the opportunities new technology creates for us, the better we can help mold and manage these opportunities for our benefit.

By Justin McCauley, McCauley Services