Constant is the word that comes to mind when thinking about the changing face of software in the hire industry. I remember how cool I thought it was when we first replaced a manual stock management spreadsheet with an Excel one and then, when it was cutting edge to have stock management built into your software, eliminating the need for spreadsheets. Hire agreements, service jobs, receipts, customer records, etc. were all manual processes not too long ago. But now, innovation and new ideas are thought of and developed as quickly as the issues are identified, or sometimes sooner.
Software companies can no longer present a basic hire system and expect it to be ‘good enough’. The hire industry has experienced more ups and downs in the last ten years than in the previous forty and with this, the need to be agile, responsive and provide new innovative and superior customer service is at the heart of the companies that will succeed no matter what the economic climate.
It is that need that subsequently drives software development. It is essential for software companies to understand their customers from how they operate to the challenges they face. This understanding will assist in anticipating potential needs or ways in which they can help provide a competitive advantage.
This should result in improving productivity, reducing costs, improving the hire company’s customer experience, managing assets or general streamlining of the business process.
Software has already created and driven the move towards paperless operations, real-time reporting, field service mobility, rental mobility, dashboard metrics reporting, fully integrated financials and so much more. So the need to have multiple systems or ‘bolt on’ modules should be a thing of the past. The real key is that it is the hire industry that has consciously or sub-consciously provided the inspiration for the constant development of new and better software.
We should all remember that it was only 20 odd years ago that we didn’t have an internet, mobile phones were bricks that could barely be called mobile and technicians and sales people would call in from a phone box to get their messages or next job. In reality, what we see today is staggering in terms of development and the advances just keep coming.
Over the next period of time you can expect more sweeping innovations such as:
- Smart enabled hire equipment that can automatically process hire returns, log breakdowns and trigger usage based invoices.
- Counter-less hire operations whereby 100% of the hire processes are completed in the field or online.
- Pricing, costing (depreciation) and maintenance scheduling that will all automatically adjust based on dynamic profiling of business activities – a business that will tune itself.
The software industry will continue to innovate on the back of the needs of the hire industry and the reality is the changing face of software is constant change. The successful software companies will be, and are the ones that embrace the industry they work in and realise that a ‘one size fits all’ product will not stand the test of time.
Andrew Satterley, Global CEO, Baseplan Software.Andrew started within the hire industry 30 years ago hiring forklifts and has been associated with the Hire industry directly and indirectly ever since, through his roles leading some of Australia’s blue chip industrial companies.