In my last editorial, I mentioned I had just been at The Cleaning Show in London. Aside from seeing great overseas innovations, I was there to give a keynote presentation on “Five Trends Changing The Contract Cleaning Market.”

To start my presentation, I identified two major product trends — robotics and Internet of Things.

Robotic floor care equipment is predicted to be a $600 million industry by 2020. Chances are some of your customers will be using robots in their programs. As their distributor, you may need to teach programming and maintenance of this new equipment. And since robots will be handling floor care tasks, you’ll also have to train the janitors on new cleaning duties.

As IoT evolves, so is the distributor’s role with the technology. Most are explained in our cover story on page 10, but one major responsibility for distributors may be analyzing the data collected by these smart machines and dispensers.

My speech also covered the changing office spaces, specifically denser office layouts, as well as the increase in the amount of flexible space that allows for both collaborative and personal areas. These changes will lead to new, and possibly more challenging, cleaning frequencies. End users will turn to their distributors for help with resulting product and process changes.

When you have more shared workspaces and workers closer in proximity to each other, you have a better chance for cross-contamination. Therefore, I predict there will be an increase in workplace infections and a greater awareness of the importance of infection control in commercial office spaces. Distributors will need to be ready to supply proper products. Of particular importance will be disinfectant wet wipes and hand sanitizer. Studies show that when cleaning providers can outfit office workers with these products, infections are reduced significantly.

Finally, I talked about the aging workplace and how to appeal to Millennials so companies can replace their retiring Baby Boomers with the new generation. This is something everyone in the cleaning industry seems to be struggling with. If you have any advice, I’m sure your customers will be eager to listen.

These trends will likely cause a number of changes for end users in the next few years, and you have the opportunity to be right there with them, easing their transitions.