By Sarah Gedo
March 16, 2017
As a pest control operator you may be wondering how Artificial Intelligence (AI) applies to your industry and business. Artificial intelligence is more than the latest technology buzzword. For the second year in a row, Gartner has listed AI as the number one strategic technology trend. Revenue from artificial intelligence is predicted to reach over $36 billion dollars by the year 2025.*
It’s possible you are already using this technology in your daily operations and don’t even realize it! There are several existing and new applications of AI that you can start taking advantage of now.
Route Optimization - Once a painfully manual process, today many pest companies have realized the value of an automated route planning engine. Route optimization tools are not meant to replace humans, who often hold valuable domain knowledge and local expertise, but rather to cut out the most tedious and complex aspects of routing so employees can make the best use of their time.
Drones - A small but growing percentage of pest control companies are exploring the use of drones. Georgia-based Inspect-All Services, known in the industry as a technology trailblazer, was one of the first companies in the nation to provide professional drone home inspections. Brian Lunsford, Co-owner & President of Inspect-All, notes that there was significant up-front preparation before they provided their first paid drone inspection.
“We purchased our first drone in late 2015 and began the process with the government of becoming legally allowed to fly it for commercial use. In 2016, we performed our first paid drone inspection after months of testing. Most importantly, we wanted to make sure our flight operators could safely fly our drones and provide our customers with substantial value, while at the same time being mindful of privacy concerns.”
Inspect-All has a certified drone operator on staff and expects to increase drone home inspections in 2017. Drones provide crystal clear views of hard-to-reach places, such as a homeowner's roof or a concealed entry point high up on the side of a house where wildlife may be entering.
View of a roof from drone home inspection
Marketing Automation and Lead Management - Cost-effective lead generation is an ongoing challenge for most businesses, pest control included. Effectively (and efficiently) converting leads to customers can be an even bigger challenge, especially for small and medium-sized businesses that may not have a dedicated sales team. Enter sales and marketing automation, which can trigger emails that nurture undecided prospects, increase conversion rate through workflow automation and ensure no valuable leads “slip through the cracks”.
Artificial intelligence can be an exciting and scary topic in business, as the possibility that “bots” will replace humans in the job market is a growing concern. In a service-oriented field like pest control, the idea that AI can replace humans is a longshot for now. Rather than fearing these new technologies, pest control businesses should embrace them as a way to differentiate themselves amongst increasing competition. Incorporating intelligent technologies into daily operations can reduce behind-the-wheel time and make more efficient use of technician time. These technologies can facilitate greater flexibility in service levels and allow PCOs to be more proactive and focus on delivering greater value and more relevant services to where they’re needed.
*Artificial Intelligence Market Forecasts, Tractica, Artificial Intelligence (AI) - Statista Dossier (2016)
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