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LNS Research recently participated in the 2018 Gensuite Conference in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. The annual gathering of the Gensuite ecosystem helped addressed a fundamental question faced by environment, health, and safety (EHS) business leaders: How can digital innovation improve EHS management? Based on the proceedings, the answer is “a lot.”
The conference attracted a significant portion of the EHS and sustainability management software provider’s subscriber base, which totals over 200 companies and 600,000 users worldwide. In keeping with Gensuite’s ecosystem approach to delivering customer value, many partners participated, spanning implementation services, content, and technology.
As the conference unfolded, a key theme emerged around Gensuite’s strategy to provide solutions that integrate evolving digital technologies to extend the value of the core application platform. Also embedded throughout the agenda was the strategy of co-innovating with customers and ecosystem partners to develop its solution portfolio. This collaborative approach was reflected in the use of interactive workshop sessions to identify customer priorities and potential solution enhancements.
Key Announcements: Progress Since Last Year
The opening keynote session featured a series of presentations by the Gensuite leadership team including R Mukund, Natasha Porter, and Donavan Hornsby. They delivered a consistent message of customer success based on collaborative innovation, technology leadership, and effective implementation and support.
Progress made on three key initiatives committed to at the 2017 conference was highlighted:
- Application re-charge - this major application re-design effort has been completed across the Gensuite application portfolio with few exceptions, including re-design for browser and device compatibility, infrastructure updates, user interface/experience modernization, and deeper cross-app and emerging technology integration.
- Analytics enhancements – significant steps taken to improve analytics capabilities include investing in a data science team and embedding third-party analytics provider Tableau into Gensuite apps. This enables more sophisticated user-designed analytics that leverages predefined data sets such as actions, incidents, and so forth.
- Virtual assistant - progress on developing the Genny, artificial intelligence-based virtual assistant was highlighted. Simple voice command or keyboard can access this interactive solution. It provides a personalized experience for functions such as open action items, accessing information, submitting concerns and receiving context-relevant briefings on topics such as tasks, risks, and metrics.
Digital Innovation Displayed Prominently
Over the past few years, there’s been much talk (and much hype) in industry about Digital Transformation. Although this trend is having a real impact on core operations in the form of Smart Manufacturing, the application of novel and emerging technology to EHS management has been somewhat restrained. Many EHS software vendors (and industrial end-users) are sitting on the sidelines, waiting to see what happens before acting. Gensuite seems to be an exception: they are proactive in the application of emerging technology to solve real-world EHS problems.
From the main stage keynotes to the breakout sessions, digital innovation was front and center. It was refreshing to see technology innovation positioned as a means to extend the value of the core application platform, not as the solution itself. For example, the “Pilot-Ready Tech” breakout session highlighted three use cases that customers can take advantage of today, based on smart glasses, proximity beacons, and the Genny virtual assistant. Gensuite has a leg up on the practical application of such emerging technologies by working with its largest customer, General Electric. GE has the resources and the mindset to invest in EHS digital innovation pilots and is doing so. This benefits all Gensuite customers by proving results for specific use cases.
Focus on Innovation Through Collaboration
Another critical theme emphasized by Gensuite was innovation through collaboration; taking an outside-in approach to identifying customer problems, challenges, and desired solutions. Such a co-innovation approach was reflected in the wide range of interactive workshop sessions that sought to actively solicit customer input on topics such as predictive analytics, risk management, mobile, and process safety management. The results of each of these sessions were reported on the main stage so all conference attendees could learn and benefit. This closed-loop learning approach is in sharp contrast to the information push approach commonly used in these types of industry conferences.
LNS Research Take
The EHS software arena is highly competitive these days. There are many well-resourced, established players striving to retain their installed bases and take market share. A differentiated strategy and positioning is essential in this environment. Gensuite seems to be adapting well by first taking care of the basics of providing a robust, broad-footprint application platform while pursuing a market leadership position in value-added digital innovation.
Given the wide diversity of capability maturity (including technology) of its customers and prospects, we think this balanced approach is wise. Most companies are at a low-to-medium-maturity level in EHS management (and the enabling technology). They need a robust EHS software platform to handle basic data management, workflows, and reporting. Gensuite has demonstrated a commitment to deliver that with continuous improvement, e.g., by the application re-charge and Tableau integration initiatives.
Some organizations may already have these foundational capabilities in place and are ready for “the-next-big-thing” technology that extends value. Gensuite is prepared to meet them where they are by leveraging partnerships to integrate emerging technologies with the core solution and cost-effective deployment.
No matter their current capability maturity, Gensuite customers are well-advised not to sit and wait to see what happens. Digital innovation is a game that can, and usually should be, played incrementally by addressing a specific pain point, showing value, and moving on to the next initiative. If Gensuite continues to balance enabling basic blocking and tackling with the realistic potential for leveraging “digital innovation,” the company should continue to be well-positioned to serve customers and prospects anywhere along the technology maturity continuum.