Interview: Stefan Öttl on Irdeto and rental
10 October 2023
IRN’s Lewis Tyler speaks to Stefan Öttl, director of business development, off-highway at Netherlands-based rental technology specialist Irdeto.
Perhaps once seen as a disruptor in the industry, the use of software solutions is becoming increasingly beneficial for both rental companies and end users.
Used to streamline the rental process, software can improve productivity and emissions, enhance safety and help companies make better use of data.
In a recent call, IRN found out how one company is helping the rental industry improve its processes through the use of its software.
Rental software solutions
When sitting down with Stefan Öttl, director of business development, off-highway at Irdeto, his passion for software solutions and its use in the equipment rental industry becomes apparent quite quickly.
Öttl himself brings plenty of knowledge in the space. He joined Hilti straight out of university, where he studied business administration and management.
Then, after two years with the Liechtenstein-based company, he co-founded IT start-up ToolSense, a digital-asset processing business based in Vienna before joining Irdeto.
“Where we help is first of all on two things: differentiation, helping rental companies differentiate with digital solutions and efficiency, making the rental processes more efficient so that you don’t need as many people involved”, says Öttl when asked how the company is tackling key issues within the rental industry.
In his role with Irdeto, Öttl is one of four members of the executive team and focuses on leading the customer organisation for the Imperto by Irdeto product, which comprises of three parts: SiteShare, SelfService and ProSafe.
The solutions use the operator’s smartphone, which then connects to the cloud, giving users access to essential data in the process.
“All of the solutions are based on mobile first”, Öttl says. “When you look at SiteShare it’s really about equipment sharing and enabling the ability to have transparency on the onsite capacity of equipment and an easy way of making that capacity available to all contractors on site.”
“Creating the transparency is the first step, then having a way to create a booking and renting equipment without interfering with actual physical people (is the second step).
“The third element is making sure that the condition of the machine is in good shape and people are also meeting the requirements to operate machines in a smart way.
“The second solution, SelfService, is geared towards the concept of self-pickup and 24/7 availability, which is a big topic for rental companies. What we see in the industry is lockboxes for smaller items, they’re becoming more interesting on projects. We extend that to larger equipment, helping rental companies offer increased availability to their customers without adding additional personnel.”
“It’s geared towards availability and having equipment there when it’s needed and that’s what we’re taking into the larger equipment, so that rental companies can offer 24/7 availability of their machines.
“The third product, ProSafe, is geared towards productivity and safety. Safety is something that is very high on the agenda for rental companies and contractors alike, but I think the other element, productivity, is something that’s completely overlooked as a lever for rental companies to actually show value.”
Meanwhile, he says the solutions can help rental companies to both differentiate themselves in the market and monetise digital solutions, as well as provide safer machines and improve sustainability.
Understanding the rental industry
Irdeto, which is headquartered in the Netherlands but also has offices across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific regions, also provides software solutions to a number of other industries, including transport, health, gaming and video entertainment.
According to Öttl, it has taken the company a couple of years to gain a better understanding about the nuances and challenges of the equipment rental industry.
In terms of its customer base, Irdeto is currently working with Zeppelin Rental in Germany and Ramirent Group, which recently utilised its SiteShare solution to create equipment pools on site that can be used by contractors, “We have more rental companies that we’re working with that we haven’t announced yet but that’s going to happen in the next couple of months”, Öttl reveals.
“We have a fairly good understanding what we can do. One of the issues that the industry has is that there’s a lot of development in the digital direction, but rentals are struggling to monetise those solutions.
“That’s where we want to step in. We are developing solutions that are enabling rental companies to monetise the value add with solutions that contractors want, and that will help them win business.”
Tackling key issues in rental
It certainly wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that in times gone by the rental industry has been one that is reluctant to embrace software solutions. However, it must be said that in recent years many companies have changed their attitude.
In that respect, Öttl argues that it is essential that companies continue to work with technology to overcome key issues facing end users such as skills shortages and profitability; “The whole topic around skill shortages or labour shortages, they need to be covered with technology because the industries are competing with each other for people, and it is pretty obvious that there are more interesting industries than construction.
“On the other hand, I think technology will be so instrumental for rental companies to actually run a profitable business that without it you just can’t do it anymore. Data will give you so much insight into so many aspects of your business that you won’t be able to run your business without it.
“I believe what’s going to happen is that the old business model in the rental industry of just providing capacity to the customer will go away because contractors will want to have more transparency on the actual usage of that capacity.
“This will push the risk towards the rental companies to be more transparent about what’s actually happening and basically stepping up and becoming more consultant on the right equipment. I think that’s where we’re going to see a lot of development in technology.”
The future of rental
Of course, we are in an era where technology is rapidly evolving. Terms such as AI and IoT were perhaps rarely coined 20 years ago. Now, they are all a staple of many industries, helping to drive efficiency and productivity.
As development in this space increases, so too does the way in which industries work and interact with data. While it may be impossible to predict where future capabilities may take the equipment rental sector, Öttl believes that it will continue to grow in importance.
He says, “When you look at the industry now and then in ten years’ time, we cannot compare because I believe technology will become so instrumental for the industry that if you cannot offer certain solutions, you won’t be able to enter the market.
“In the future it will be much more important to offer sophisticated solutions that can give transparency for customers, help them be more efficient on the usage, more productive and have a safer job site. That can only be done by technology in a way that it is scalable.
“You can do a lot of things on the jobsite with people on the ground, but someone will have to pay for that. The demographics is going in a direction that those people will not be available, technology is the only way.”