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Upcycling your data

Date: 3/09/2014 | Author: Jason Fazackerley and Paul Sanderson

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Ahead of RWM, Resource Efficient Business and Prodware will be publishing an article every day on the Top Ten Drivers for Recycling Change.

We would like you to share your views on which of these 10 ideas you think will be the most significant drivers for recycling change. Come to the Prodware stand at RWM (4F106-G107) and show what you believe will be the key drivers on the 'Cool Wall' or tweet your Top 3 to @ProdwareUK and/or @ResourceEBnews using #TopRecycling
Today, we look at business intelligence:

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In the last two years the amount of digital data globally has increased by 90 per cent. How can that be? Well, we are generating data at an increasing velocity.

And this is true in the waste, recycling and environmental sectors. We operate transactional systems that track movements of material, vehicles, containers and tickets. Our finance systems process increasing numbers of transactions. We glue systems together to make information flow, or we design another spreadsheet to make the data fit how we want it to look.

The challenge with data is that it has no value whatsoever. In fact, data is a cost on our businesses. It costs to transact, to process, to store, maintain and to correct - it is an overhead!

Only when we convert data into knowledge do we get value. A simple formula can be used to demonstrate this fact:

Prodware formula
As with any fraction, if you increase the value of the denominator, the resultant value reduces, decrease it and the overall value increases. Conversely, increase the number above the line, the numerator, and the overall business value increases. Business Intelligence (BI) tools can help you do this.

BI provides summarised views on historic, current and predicted business operations, and thus supports better decision making. For example, in a typical recycling company, a huge amount of data (from historical transactions) will exist for vehicle movements. This data can be summarised in a view that shows, perhaps by vehicle type or territory, the utilisation or revenue generation of the vehicle or route. Looking at a comparative view of this data over a period of time, perhaps a few years, the business decision makers will be able to see what type of vehicle, or which geographical area is the most profitable. By entering into the BI tool the planned purchase of new vehicles, development of new sites or increase/decrease in customers in a particular area, a predictive view of performance can be created. This information can influence many decisions in a business such as type of vehicle to purchase, the territories on which to focus the sales forces’ efforts, driver performance or where to create a new transfer station etc.

Are you ready to Upcycle your data to make it work better for you? Others are already doing this, and the use of BI could be key in driving a very different business environment for the recycling and waste sector.

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Prodware provide integrated software for the waste management and recycling industry, including the leading solution enwis)
For more information on Prodware, visit

Upcycling its data is an area where waste and resource management firm Grundon sees benefit to its business. In times that remain challenging in the sector, with competition fierce for new business and revenues from secondary commodities still low, businesses such as Grundon are using data to identify and assess business opportunities.

“At the moment, the market is very competitive,” says Grundon managing director Clayton Sullivan-Webb. “There isn’t a lot of new business in the market as the economy is still recovering, and so companies are competing for existing business and that puts pressure on price.

“Through the critical analysis of our data it allows us to ensure that we can offer value for money to our customers, while maintaining a profitable return. While we have data for waste wheeler collections, we don’t currently have a system that allows us to analyse and charge based upon long-term trends easily. As we are moving towards having this data on each wheelie bin for our customers, we will be in a better position to understand the cost and revenue generated to Grundon from our clients.

“The level of detail gained from our data analysis allows us to provide transparency to our customers, providing a partnership approach that is based upon fair and accurate pricing.”

Grundon is working with Prodware to amalgamate its data onto one system. For example, Grundon currently uses different technology and IT systems in various areas of the business such as its weighbridges, accounts and commercial department.

But it will soon be bringing all of this onto one system allowing decision making to improve, but also enabling the company to provide a more efficient service to its customers.

“We will have a customer portal,” says Clayton Sullivan-Webb. “Rather than a customer having to contact us for a ticket, report or invoice for example, they will be able to access it themselves via the portal.

“Importantly, customers now require far more environmental information so that they can include in their Corporate Social Responsibility reporting. There is an increasing expectation that we will provide this bespoke data to them, so having easy access to that information helps us to keep our customers happy.

“When you have thousands of customers, it can be a challenge to provide a personal service. But by intelligently analysing the data, we will be able to continue to grow whilst maintaining a full understanding of our customers’ needs and provide a first class service to all of them.”

More and more companies are beginning to think like Grundon, appreciating that data can be a key component in their business success, provided that they understand it properly.

As businesses better understand their data, they can begin to see patterns that not only lead to more efficient collections and recycling, but also greater profits too.

Jason Fazackerley is solutions specialist at Prodware. Paul Sanderson is editorial director at Resource Efficient Business.  

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