To be successful, any technology initiative must be aware of the macro-environmental factors in play and the aptly named PEST analysis does this.
In the field of predator control, a pest analysis sounds like a list of invasive species that might be targeted for control or eradication. However, it is a label with a double meaning as a PEST analysis is also a very useful tool in the strategic planning toolbox to better understand the broad environment in which any organisation must successfully operate if it is to thrive.
PEST is an acronym for the four key macro-environmental factors; political, economic, social and technology. It is an outward looking analysis rather than the more commonly used inward looking SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis that shows an organisation how to improve its overall performance
Modal Control emerged from a strategic PEST analysis of existing predator control practices. This has helped to see how separate development pathways could be converged to create the Modal Control System and to identify the potential market space for it. The analysis must be periodically updated to remain current.
A key political development was the government’s 2016 decision to adopt the Predator Free 2050 initiative. This has had the effect of rapidly mobilising communities and groups across the country to begin local predator control activities with support and encouragement from the Department of Conservation, local councils and PF2050.
In contrast, a recent Ministerial decision has stopped the development of genetic predator control techniques, which has closed access to potential technologies favoured by high-tech science practitioners. This reinforces the uncertainties in politics and demonstrates that further restrictions could occur if there is sufficient weight of public opinion..
Predator control programme costs are critical when financial resources are limited. Recent predator control innovations have expanded device capabilities but have also increased costs. Trying to integrate separate technologies doesn’t always generate synergistic benefits and can add both costs and risks leading to a “lowest common denominator” outcome.
In contrast, a systems approach can drive cost-efficiencies through standardisation and commonality providing volume manufacturing. A systems approach can also generate synergistic benefits between the different components that make up the system and lead to a “highest common denominator” outcome.
International experience demonstrates the programme impacts when the social licence to operate is challenged. While society is largely supportive of predator control for biodiversity protection there is persistent and growing resistance to some methodologies, especially the aerial distribution of toxins.
Recent debate around the SPCA’s position on 1080 indicates how polarising social debates could trigger a political response that may have unintended consequences such as a ban on aerial sowing causing the loss of an important toxin tool.
International trade barriers are also a significant latent risk factor. Competitors could cause reputational damage to New Zealand products in international markets by pointing to our environmental management practices to challenge the validity of our clean, green credentials.
Existing predator control is founded on the deployment of traps and toxins. These are constantly being incrementally improved to increase their effectiveness and reduce impacts on non-target species. Add-on technology, such as telemetry is generating real time data however device based predator control is still hampered by the limitations of labour, network servicing frequency and device consumables.
The Modal Control System is an integrated system designed to drive programme cost efficiencies as its fundamental devices are already known to be effective. By automating device functioning, reducing device consumables and building integrated devices will reduce programme operational costs and allow greater areas to be predator controlled and surveilled at a lower cost per unit area.
A PEST analysis has helped foresee how the Modal Control system can contribute to Synovus Technology achieving its purpose; “To create a future where pest and predator control allows nature and communities to thrive.”
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The familiar saying "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" warns about the risks that come with trying to achieve more by challenging the status quo.