Customer Q&A: Advanced Disposal
This week we sat down with Liana Korek, director of enterprise applications at Advanced Disposal, to learn how her company is upending the waste disposal industry. Read on to learn how Advanced Disposal is driving customer loyalty, safety and engagement with a new approach to IT — and how the term “Stars Wars of Trash” came to be.
Q: Tell us a little about Advanced Disposal. What makes you different from other waste disposal services?
Advanced Disposal offers waste disposal, collection and recycling services for residential, commercial, industrial and construction customers across 16 states and the Bahamas. We like to say that it’s not just about what we do, but how we do it. While growth is important to us, the goal has never been to be the biggest company in our space, but rather the best run company with the highest customer loyalty and team member engagement. In order to oversee the entire waste disposal process end-to-end, we prioritize vertical integration and secondary markets, which usually means we own both the hauling and disposal. What makes us different from other waste disposal services is that we’re very thoughtful about how we compete and implement our services, prioritizing customer and employee satisfaction in addition to profitability.
Q: Describe your IT environment before MuleSoft. What foundational changes have you made since partnering with us?
Before we began our digital transformation, our IT team was primarily responsible for keeping the lights on; focusing on application upgrades, quick customizations and maintaining a stable environment. But when our current CIO Doug Saunders came onboard, he initiated a huge shift in our IT priorities. We began partnering more closely with the business to develop targeted solutions to address their problems. Our first major business initiative was to automate and streamline our order-to-cash process by integrating different systems including our CRM, a corporate pricing engine, an E-signature platform, and our ERP. Previously, we would have built those integrations using point-to-point connections. But with MuleSoft, we were able to develop all of the integrations on a single platform, where they were easy to maintain, support and troubleshoot.
The magic really started to happen when the integrations from this initial project were reused for future projects. For example, some of the APIS developed for our internal sales process are now exposed through our website to provide a self-service eCommerce platform for customers. Once we understood the value of reusability, we really started to take an API-led approach to project development. Integrations and APIs through MuleSoft are the foundation for every one of our digital transformation projects right now.
Q: Where were your most significant business problems, and how have you applied our technology to solve them?
Our business goals and technology initiatives are always closely aligned. For example, our mission statement is “service first, safety always,” so anything we can do to ensure the safety of our community is a top priority. One of our projects leverages cameras and sensors within our trucks to feed data back to the dispatchers onsite to make quicker safety-related decisions. Another business problem we have is managing all of the information from our various acquisitions. We grow by acquisition, so over time we’ve collected a massive amount of disparate data across our business. In response, we’ve created a master data platform which allows us to cleanse our data to improve quality and ensure accurate data analytics.
Most significant in our push to align IT focus areas with business use cases is the development of a multi-year program called AdvancedConnect. AdvancedConnect is split into 5 products encompassing 5 areas that we believe will transform our business: 1) AdvancedConnect for sales integrates sales and pricing data to improve data quality and responsiveness to customers, 2) AdvancedConnect for customers provides external customers a digital platform with self-service eCommerce and mobile access capabilities, 3) AdvancedConnect for analytics supports security, governance and data standardization, 4) AdvancedConnect for customer care combines internal and external customer care platforms into a single pane of glass to improve accuracy and efficiency serving customers, and 5) AdvancedConnect for technology is leveraging technology embedded in our trucks to enhance safety and productivity. MuleSoft integration is the backbone for every single one of these platforms.
Q: What is your vision for Advanced Disposal in 2020? Which integration projects will be the most impactful for your end users?
There will be an integration component to nearly every enhancement that we deliver or problem that we solve in 2020. For example, our customer care reps currently have to open anywhere from 10-15 different windows to service a customer call. Using AdvancedConnect for customer care, we plan to provide one single pane of glass for customer care reps by connecting all of the necessary backend systems and processes to a single user interface using MuleSoft APIs.
Another vision we have for next year is to support predictive analytics with our master data platform. Let’s say Joe’s Flower Shop requests an extra pickup on Mother’s Day each year because they’re really busy. Utilizing predictive analytics, we could anticipate and proactively schedule that second pickup, but send Joe an email saying he can give us a call to cancel if need be.
We also want to expand our footprint in the IoT space to see how we can leverage sensors in other places besides our trucks. We’ve coined the term “Star Wars of Trash” for some of our more exciting concepts. Here are a couple Star Wars of Trash ideas: Instead of coming to pick up your trash every Tuesday whether it’s full or not, what if there was a sensor inside the can that could detect when it’s nearly full and trigger a request to be emptied? Instead of rushing out to the curb on trash day only to realize the truck has already come, what if we could send our customers a push notification to put out their trash once our truck is within a certain distance from their home?