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  1. Technology Leaders Index
October 7, 2020

Rentokil finds its Rhythm with AI to automate pest control

Manuel processes have been automated with great success at the innovative pest control firm.

By Matthew Gooding

Best known for tackling other people’s pest problems, Rentokil Initial has earned a place in the Technology Leaders Index by swatting aside a challenge of its own with a new artificial intelligence (AI) system to improve productivity.

The FTSE 100 company has developed its own algorithm, Rhythm AI, which allows it to automatically schedule work orders for staff in 81 countries. As part of this, Rentokil successfully sought a solution allowing it to achieve automation while maintaining its rules around customer service, which see dedicated specialists assigned to specific contracts.

With Rhythm it has struck gold. The company decided to develop an algorithm after seeing examples in other industries across Asia where companies have streamlined processes using tech. Rentokil’s team took just six weeks to come up with a proof of value proposition, then swiftly implemented this so field trials could begin in Malaysia. Seven months later it was rolled out to teams across Asia, with a worldwide launch for 16,000 staff to follow.

Rhythm is now automating 95% of planning work for Rentokil in Asia, which has allowed it to reduce admin costs as well as substituting outgoing calls for automated SMS notifications, with digital confirmation sought where necessary. It says implementing the system has saved its technicians 30 minutes a day.

Rentokil Initial is recognised as a data and AI pacesetter in the Technology Leaders Index. Its development team, under group digital products and AI director Dan McCormick, comprised Eugene Yee (SME and productivity lead), Kevin Williams (portfolio owner), Chris Hunt (product owner), as well as external partners Lan Yang and Aadersh Patel from Alibaba and PA Consulting respectively.

The company has big plans for the system moving forward. As well as the global roll-out, exciting new developments are being prepared which Rentokil says will revolutionise the customer experience. These include real-time omnichannel capability for customers to (re)schedule, while it plans to link AI Rhythm to its IoT-connected devices so a specialist is automatically scheduled in real-time once a trap is triggered. The Internet of Pests is not far away.

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