Returning to our series of interviews with software manufacturers, Larry Miller, principal business development manager, rental and service industry, Sycor Americas, talks about being IoT-enabled, intelligent data, embedded analytics, and how artificial intelligence will enhance rental profitability.
RER: What are the new developments in your rental software in the past year?
Miller: Our software Sycor.Rental is deployed within Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance & Operations, which allows our solution to span multiple countries, time zones, business units, and languages. We can provide a fully integrated “cloud” solution for companies that need “wall to wall” ERP functionality to span across finance, manufacturing, logistics, transportation, project/job, service, and rental. This allows users to deploy needed functionality on any device, anywhere in the world. Sycor.Rental is also IoT-enabled and by adding our solution, Sycor.IntelliCamp, users are able to optimize the up- and cross-selling of their rental fleet.
As telematics grows in importance in the rental industry, the relationship between telematics and rental software is important. Can you talk about the integration between your software and telematics systems?
Miller: Our software is IoT-enabled, so when equipment is used on any given day, the data – provided by on-board units – is imported into Sycor.Rental and will be invoiced to the customer automatically. In addition, preventive and predictive maintenance is supported by intelligent data coming from sensors attached to your machines. And by adding Sycor.IntelliCamp, users are able to leverage machine learning. For example, future stock can be calculated and if a surplus is detected, proactive campaigns will find the best potential customers for those specific items.
RER: One of the challenges rental companies face is figuring out how the level of profitability of each piece of equipment, and each cat-class or equipment segment. How can your software help with that challenge?
Miller: Sycor.Rental provides embedded PowerBI-Analytics for revenue and margin analysis. Our software can allocate revenue and cost of individual equipment items even if they are rented as an assembly or highly configured piece of equipment. This allows the analysis of profitability at the most granular level you desire while presenting billing at an equipment level that is desired by your customer.
RER: Another challenge for rental companies is the profitability of bidding on a job, and arriving at a rate that makes sense for profitability. How can your software help?
Miller: Quotes and orders feature a profit margin calculation that take all entailed items and services into account. Different versions of rates and discounts can be adjusted in that calculation and finally decided to be valid for a quote or order.
RER: How are you facilitating rental customers that want to manage their accounts online, have access to billing, be able to order equipment and call it off rent and determine what fleet is available from the rental company?
Miller: Sycor.Rental allows office and field personnel to access equipment availability and pricing for each customer. Customer portals allow the customer to have a view into the equipment on rent, view hours of usage, indicate service needs, requisition additional equipment, or schedule equipment pickup or exchange.
RER: Mobility has been a major topic, being able to do just about everything on a smartphone. Any new developments in that area in the past year?
Miller: Sycor.Rental can provide a user-definable mobile platform to allow selected functionality for specific personnel roles in the company. This can even be extended to users that do not have continuous cellular or Wi-Fi connectivity. Users can perform the job function, collect data, take pictures, capture signatures, and have the system “forward/synchronize” the data once connectivity is again established.
RER: What future trends and developments do you see?
Miller: Leveraging the power of AI and Machine Learning has been and will continue to be an important trend. At Sycor, we have been examining AI over the last couple of years and we will continue to utilize these technologies to enhance our software and further optimize our customers’ processes. Sycor.Rental is deploying Artificial Intelligence (AI) into our service and maintenance system, which will enable the user to define custom algorithm-based data feeds (equipment operating conditions, usage locations, oil analysis) to schedule service repairs or adjust maintenance schedules. This functionality will help contain costs, enhance revenue opportunities, and extend the life of the rental assets.