Smart training and smarter service


October 17, 2023

Dr. Michael Bentley, BCE

Dr. Michael Bentley, BCE

Today’s pest control industry has access to so many game-changing innovations that weren’t widely available 10 years ago. Technological breakthroughs in cloud computing software, lightning-fast wireless network connectivity and the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) have reshaped the way we do business. Considering how far the industry has advanced in such a short amount of time, it’s difficult to know what the future holds. But, if I had to predict where the industry would change in the next 10 years, I would expect to see the greatest innovations in two areas: how we train our team and how we service clients.

The next age of onboarding

Most of today’s training resources are paperless, making them accessible on computers, tablets and smartphones. By 2033 — the year the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and Pest Management Professional (PMP) celebrate their 100th anniversaries — service professionals will be taking digital onboarding one step further with the integration of augmented reality (AR). AR changes or enhances a user’s surroundings when viewed through the lens of a smart device or virtual reality (VR) goggles by adding digital elements to live views. Most virtual meeting platforms, smartphones and social media applications use this technology to apply face filters or background effects to pictures or video.

AR-based onboarding programs would offer a more immersive training experience. Trainees equipped with VR headsets or smart devices would see their surroundings along with digital overlays of icons and interactive features. During inspections, hovering digital arrows would point out pest evidence and conducive conditions. These icons would pair with interactive text boxes that provide information on what items are and why they are noteworthy. Combining real-world settings with digitally enhanced training aids will better prepare employees for field conditions before they even leave the office.

AR also would revolutionize workplace safety training. Employees learning how to handle and mix products could access digital label instructions and safety guidelines, along with virtual instructions on addressing product spills under a wide range of conditions that may be difficult to safely replicate.

When learning to use application equipment, trainees could even access and interact with virtual diagrams and review step-by-step instructions on how to troubleshoot common issues.

More data, smarter devices

Today’s remote sensing technology has set the stage for what I believe will be the biggest game changer in pest control over the next decade. Future pest management professionals (PMPs) will use an even more robust network of remote monitoring devices and control tools that work in tandem to collect, relay and interpret greater amounts of data than ever before.

Remote sensors armed with advanced imaging software will identify pests the moment activity is logged. Account data would continuously stream to a cloud-based platform that leverages AI to interpret and transform data into on-demand reports for each account. Local and regional climate reports will be collected and used to generate seasonal pest forecasts and control recommendations for each service area. This technology will enable PMPs to provide a customized, prescriptive service to each account.

When I think back on how far the pest control industry has advanced the past decade, I can’t help but be excited for what the next 10 years will hold.

About the Author

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Dr. Bentley is director of training and education for the National Pest Management Association. You can reach him at

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