Sector

16 January 2018

PPC Live: Meet the speaker - Savvas Othon

Rentokil Initial's Group Science and Innovation Director, Savvas Orthon, will be leading a seminar at PPC Live called Technology vs Technicians – how everybody wins (except the rats). We catch up with him to see what we should expect.

Savvas Orthon, Group Science and Innovation Director, Rentokil Initial

Having worked in the pest control industry for over 22 years holding positions from frontline technician to the boardroom, I have witnessed many changes to the industry. I have seen the reduction of organophospates, the introduction of pagers and mobile phones, the dawn of the BPD and the push for professionalism.

Many of the changes have been for the better, but now comes a change that is so fundamental to the pest management industry that if left alone, will have huge implications on the future of our industry and could result in a reduction in industry professionals, poor pest management and cut our customer base.

Team Technician or Team Technology?

Pests, like us, are living organisms with a diversity of feelings, instincts and needs, however unlike humans, pests do not conform to rules or have social media accounts which means not even the most elegant algorithm can second guess their preferences and what they will do next, let alone automate a control programme.

I believe it takes an expert to understand pest behaviour, to tailor a control programme and then formulate a proactive monitoring system. Pest management isn’t just about detection, but it is easy to see why detection can be confused for control by those outside of Pest Management, especially as the industry has unconsciously educated customers over the years into thinking bait boxes translate into pest management  

Technology is coming, and we cannot stop it nor should we try. Pest management is under threat from technology, and if we do not embrace it now, we will only have ourselves to blame when we lose out to the machines.

Technology vs Technicians – how everybody wins

Savvas's background in technology

In my current role as Science and Innovation Director for Rentokil Initial, I have the responsibility for the Group innovation programme across all of our 70 operating countries. This puts me in the fortunate position of seeing how pest management is administered across the world and how current trends and customer insights are pushing us to a technology-driven future at a rapid pace. 

Before 2012, most of my time was spent speaking to the biocide and pest management industry to find the next big thing; now I spend a significant amount of time talking to the technology industry. From some of the worlds leading players in technology to the small technology start-ups, many companies are eyeing up the pest management industry as the next target for the Internet of Things revolution.

Why attend Savvas's talk?

The aim of the technology companies is to disrupt our industry with clever gadgets and sensors. As an innovator, I recognise that disruption is great, but only if the ramifications of the disruption is fully understood. In my presentation, I will set out to show you that machines are welcome but cannot take the place of expertise.

Join me on the 14 March at PPC Live where based on my global view working for the worlds largest commercial pest management company.

I will show you how the future may shape up for those who embrace apathy rather than action and how embracing technology to unlock the technical expertise of the frontline rather than substituting it is the winning formula.


Professional pest control together. PPC Live is the sister show to PestEx, and is BPCA's exhibition and conference designed for UK pest control technicians, managers and company owners. This event will be held on Wednesday 14 March 2018 at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern, Worcestershire.

Register now

More about this talk

View all PPC Live seminars

Source: Online

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