Back to home page

SafetyCulture COO: Innovation regardless of whether you’re building with bolts or bytes

Industry Trends | By | 3 Nov 2020 | 3 minute read

SafetyCulture Chief Operating Officer, Alistair Venn

Operations keeps our world running smoothly — it’s the operational teams who power our infrastructure, keep our supply chains moving, build valuable new products, and delight people everywhere. 

I spent the first half of my career in mining and manufacturing at Siemens and Rolls-Royce Aerospace. I’ve celebrated with my teams when we’ve delivered something on time, and on budget, and together we also navigated through the adrenaline rush of production and supply chain failures. 10 years ago I transitioned from building mines and jet-engines to building technology and e-commerce businesses. The speed of delivery of software compared to hardware I saw was mind-blowing. I witnessed the true power of technology and where it could take teams. Today, I’m on a mission to empower amazing teams to deliver excellence and continuous innovation regardless of whether they’re building with bolts or bytes.

Many great operations businesses have been built over the past few centuries by harnessing two powerful market forces: barriers to entry and economies of scale.

There are only two major wide-body aircraft engine manufacturers in the world because developing a new engine costs over $5bn and 10 to 20 years. The sheer weight of capital requirements to design, test, and produce such complex hardware provides enormous barriers to entry and requires a substantial scale of production to amortize such a large upfront investment. 

The danger of these two powerful forces is that they can breed a sense of complacency. Traditional market dynamics have been upended over the past decade by companies such as Uber, Airbnb, and PayPal who have used the power of technology, combined with a passion for solving customer problems in a new and delightful way. So do traditional businesses stand a chance in the age of tech giants?

Digital innovation unlocks immense potential for those willing to embrace it. Rapid testing and real-time feedback, combined with a culture of continuous improvement and customer-centricity can yield incredible results, regardless of industry.

Rolls-Royce revolutionized its industry with the launch of “Power by the Hour”. The traditional model of purchasing an engine for millions of dollars upfront and then managing uncertain costs of engine maintenance did not work well for airlines who were looking to reduce their CapEx requirements, smooth out their costs and remove the operational disruption of grounded aircraft.

Rather than the airline bearing the risk of engine maintenance, Rolls-Royce offered a leasing program allowing airlines to simply pay a fixed rate per hour of flying time. This revolutionized the profitability in the aviation industry, resulting in low-cost carriers around the world entering the market. Rolls-Royce created immense customer value by acknowledging their customers’ pain and mitigating it all together by carrying all the risk in the relationship. They were only able to take on these enormous risks by harnessing the power of technology. They used thousands of real-time data feeds from every engine in the air, combined with advanced computer modeling to forecast exactly when every engine should receive proactive maintenance to eliminate airline downtime and reduce their own cost of repair.

If shifting external conditions and increased consumer expectations weren’t enough for businesses to contend with, COVID-19 arrived to throw another spanner in the works by disrupting workplaces, supply chains, and impacting spending worldwide.

At SafetyCulture, our global offices transitioned into remote working full time while helping our customers. We had an opportunity to help businesses with our flagship product, iAuditor, a platform that allows businesses to generate checklists to ensure they’re meeting safety requirements. We launched “Safely Back to Business”, an initiative to provide impacted businesses around the world access to free COVID-19 guidelines and resources with our technology.

I am proud to present this comprehensive resource to inform operational leaders of the trends that ensure survival and drive growth across industries. We’ll focus on the key areas that will allow your business to quickly adapt to new operational challenges, and position your business for success in a post-pandemic world.

Like this article? Why not share it!

Important Notice
The information contained in this article is general in nature and you should consider whether the information is appropriate to your specific needs. Legal and other matters referred to in this article are based on our interpretation of laws existing at the time and should not be relied on in place of professional advice. We are not responsible for the content of any site owned by a third party that may be linked to this article. SafetyCulture disclaims all liability (except for any liability which by law cannot be excluded) for any error, inaccuracy, or omission from the information contained in this article, any site linked to this article, and any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.