In this third instalment of our IoT Visionaries series, we chat to Edward Porter, our Director of IoT Solutions.
Our IoT Visionaries series of articles profiles the individuals who are working at the forefront of IMS Evolve’s IoT solutions to improve efficiencies and reduce waste for our customers. In this third instalment, we talk to our Director of IoT Solutions and a champion of new innovations within the company, Edward Porter, about how a culture of creativity at IMS Evolve helps him and his team to push the boundaries of innovation in digital technology.
Edward’s route into IoT was a little unorthodox. Having been a chef and restaurant manager, a change in direction saw him join IMS Evolve in the contact centre. Fast forward 16 years and Edward is an IMS Evolve Director in charge of leading many of its key food retail customer relationships, devising new and innovative technological solutions and spearheading some of the company’s most ground-breaking projects.
“The company itself has evolved a lot from when I started; we’ve gone from five or six of us back in 2004, to the 100+ of us now and we’re still growing at a rapid pace. IMS has always encouraged a culture of creativity and entrepreneurship by embracing new talent and constantly pushing for innovation. That need to push the boundaries and think outside of the box has always resonated with me, from working in our contact centre, to running the contact centre, through to the hands on, creative role that I have today.”
Over the course of Edward’s career at the company, he has invested in IMS Evolve’s vision of ‘Better Choices Made Possible’ and has helped to develop its technical direction and expand its customer portfolio by embedding this passion into everything he does – something the company’s culture has encouraged and supported. In fact, the company mission and strapline itself was Edward’s own creation.
“IMS Evolve has always been about taking a set of circumstances and thinking creatively about how these can be improved to meet the needs of customers; how can we enable them to make better choices. I have been working with food retailers for the past twenty years to help them embrace digital and automation strategies in order to achieve huge reductions in reactive maintenance costs, customer complaints and avoidable loss of food. I see my job as turning complex data into simple insights that can be used in a unique and effective way to increase efficiencies for our customers and ultimately make their life easier. Our company mission says it all really; Better Choices Made Possible – it’s exactly what we do.”
“Ultimately though, it’s a collaborative thing – what really makes IMS Evolve stand out is how closely we work with our customers. I spend a lot of my time working alongside them to gain an understanding of their business processes and aspirations in order to then align our solution with what they’re trying to achieve.” Edward adds, “IMS Evolve has a core offering that we deploy across customer sites, but once we are live and monitoring and managing the information, our teams expertise really come into play as we look for ways to customise our solution to ensure that specific customers goals are met and maximum value released.”
IMS Evolve’s Greatest Hits
Edward has overseen the development of IMS Evolve’s IoT technology into a bespoke solution that can cater to almost any challenge customers throw at it. His vision for a sophisticated IoT controls system that seamlessly integrates, not only with physical assets but also with a business’s overall strategy and direction, is the product of out-of-the-box-thinking, encouraged by IMS Evolve’s core working principles.
“In its infancy, IMS would alert our supermarket customers when connected assets weren’t functioning as intended. However, by combining in-house expertise in IoT and retail, the software now has the capability to collate and analyse multiple data points and multiple inputs, such as work order data, energy data, weather data and more, to enable a system which contextualises an assets performance data in real-time to provide an all-round picture of health. Imperatively, automatic corrective action can be taken by the system, with no human intervention needed. This is just one example of how our technology, and approach, has advanced, matured and scaled over time. We always take our learnings with one customer as an opportunity to provide something new to another, and we never stop learning after that. We’ve developed, through our vast experience in the industry, a kind of greatest hits of policies and outcomes over time.”
“My ultimate objective is to use the innovative retail technology developed by IMS Evolve to ensure customers’ needs are met and challenges are overcome, which means making sure that the customer is selling quality food with the most efficient equipment. I think this can only be achieved by looking at food quality and mechanical efficiency at a macro level. The data we collect is there to say; this is where you are today in terms of your efficiency levels, and here are your specific insights and tools to understand how you can improve.”
The Journey Continues
While IMS Evolve continues to develop IoT solutions within the retail space, the organisation is also focused on future opportunities across the whole supply chain. Edward’s in-depth understanding of both the customers’ needs and the retail sector as a whole has led him to look at supply chain issues as forming part of a holistic challenge that IoT can help overcome through initiatives across dynamic monitoring, food safety and blockchain.
“In the supply chain, where produce is moved from location to location, IMS is providing a digital layer to the chain which allows the food to be scanned and traced throughout its journey. By knowing where that food has been and the conditions, such as temperature, on that journey, the safety of food can be monitored and ensured across the whole supply chain as it goes from farm, to truck, to delivery area, to fridge and ultimately, to the customer. Most imperatively though, this advanced technology will offer a ubiquitous solution for the whole supply chain and will ultimately enable less technically sophisticated suppliers to enter into the chain alongside larger vendors on an even playing field. I hope to utilise IMS’s expertise to expand our innovation to encourage a frictionless approach to digital adoption across the whole supply chain in order to promote better traceability throughout the entire food production process.”
“Moving the IMS Evolve solution forward into other areas of the supply chain to help the industry overcome more expansive challenges seems a natural next step for IMS Evolve; we want to be the IoT solution that helps retailers overcome any and all hurdles that they face. On a personal level, I want to continue to encourage the values of innovation and creativity that IMS thrives on and that have defined my career with the company. With these values and our compelling brand mission, I have no doubt IMS will continue to expand its reach even further.”