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Barometer: recyclers are ‘accidental experts’ in the digital age

Irish tech company AMCS has published its annual Digital Transformation Barometer. The news isn’t all good: almost 60% of recycling and waste management professionals surveyed admit they have not made enough progress towards fully integrated smart recycling systems.

Advanced software-driven recycling solutions are broadly acknowledged to be the next chapter for the international recycling community. AMCS’s 2018 barometer takes into account recycling companies with more than 250 employees as well as municipality service providers from North America, Australasia, Europe and Asia.

Mature mindset?

Four out of 10 respondents, the largest share, fall into the ‘average’ digitally aware category. Their mind-set is described as ‘working on it’ having achieved a digital maturity rating of just under 45%. Another 10% of respondents are ‘accidental experts’, performing slightly above average, while 15% are placed in the ‘best in class’ category boasting 88% digital maturity.

A group of 21% respondents with a rating of less than 30% belongs in the ‘don’t really care’ category. Around 15% of respondents are ‘just getting started’, managing just over 20% digital maturity. More than 80% of participants believe that digital innovation is important for business success.

Where is the new tech?

On a scale of 1-10, leadership and business culture regarding a digital transformation scored a 6.9. Business intelligence, however, scored only 5.9 with new technologies being implemented scoring 5.7. Employee engagement did a little better, scoring 6.3, while the value chain was awarded a 6.5. Nearly three-quarters of respondents (73%) pinpoint ‘increasing productivity’ as their primary goal. 

Old barriers

For 54% of those surveyed, legacy applications and systems still form a significant barrier to fully implementing a digital transformation. ‘It is difficult to optimise processes when legacy systems contain contaminated data and do not work together smoothly to share information and increase efficiency,’ the barometer states.

It is hoped new investments will improve the situation. AMCS reports that approximately 65% of those surveyed anticipate an increase in their information technology budgets, with 20% expect growth of more than 5%. 

The battles to win

‘To me, underestimating the necessity and the urgency of a digital transformation is a potentially lethal business mistake – regardless of how healthy and profitable an existing business model might be,’ says Antonis Mavropoulos, president of the International Solid Waste Association. ‘The best option for management is to prepare to fight many battles that are small enough to win and generate positive feedback but are big enough to matter so that they start to shape a new digital landscape.’

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