Aly Pinder looks at three ways in which manufacturers must consider leveraging augmented service tools...
The way we work, learn, and communicate have all taken a drastic turn from just a couple decades ago. When was the last time you saw a teenager or even a current college student read a physical newspaper, write a note in a notebook or on piece of paper, or look up a definition in a dictionary (not an online one)?
I imagine like me, you probably can’t remember the last time. This transformation has wide ranging implications, the least of which is the collapse of the encyclopedia industry. But this is not another article on why millennials need to be coddled, or how Gen Z is bad for the economy.
I don’t think any generation, ones before or after me, are the problem. But the way in which their behaviours impact the world around us must be addressed and used to help us all evolve.
"Manufacturers must take a few steps to turn knowledge into a shared resource and not just a repository of work instructions..."
This is where manufacturers and service leaders come in. For manufacturers, the implications of a changing economy and digital world are even more real as it is becoming more apparent that to fill a growing gap in labor the tools, training, incentives, and motivations of work will need to be transformed as well. Not only do manufacturers need to do more for the customer, it increasingly is coming from more junior workers who need to get up to speed fast.
This convergence is where I believe augmented service tools can play a big role in democratizing knowledge across a varied set of employees and levels of tenure. But to get there, manufacturers must take a few steps to turn knowledge into a shared resource and not just a repository of work instructions.
With this in mind there are three things I believe manufacturers should consider.
Peer-to-Peer vs. Top Down.
Are you more likely to listen to your boss or your colleague?
The answer may be a bit different depending on whether you work in an office or out in the field. Many manufacturers I’ve spoken with talk about the level of engagement they find when they empower their field teams to work together to share best practices, whether in a newsletter, during beginning of day meetings, or via a video. Insights are more powerful when they come from a peer that is going through the same challenges you are.
Therefore, I believe user-generated content from field service technicians will help speed the adoption of video training tools and knowledge sharing.
But it is up to the manufacturer and service leadership to provide the tools, security, and platform for this technology to work and be accessible to the right people.
Amplify Investments in Innovation and Collaboration.
It is probably not prudent to predict industrial manufacturers or an oil & gas company to rival Google or Apple as the next great innovative companies of this generation.
However, there is a lot of innovation happening today within manufacturers that doesn’t often get reported to the outside public. If manufacturers want to draw the talent of the future they must not only have the tools the next wave of workers want to use, but they must also highlight in recruiting and marketing materials the innovative technologies that are used daily to get work done. This may help differentiate from the throng of manufacturers that are trying to procure talent. And why not promote innovation to those you want to bring in as employees in the same ways you woo customers.
AR / VR should play a role in the field.
I am not as bullish as my peers regarding the future pervasiveness of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) tools in field service. I do, however, think there are several use cases and environments where this technology makes sense.
"What it most important though, is that manufacturers evaluate their infrastructure, environment, and workforce capability to maximise the value of this technology..."
What it most important though, is that manufacturers evaluate their infrastructure, environment, and workforce capability to maximise the value of this technology. AR and VR tools do have the ability to help bridge the gap between an ageing workforce that may need to move to a back-office role and a less tenured technician who needs real-time assistance while on a job.
The talent pool or lack thereof is forcing manufacturers to re-think how they recruit, where they recruit, and what tools they need to navigate this environment.
As much as we have all discussed this topic for years and almost a decade now, manufacturers must take this moment to understand the worker of the future. It is imperative that manufactures provide the tools to augment their work environment to bring them in and keep them on the team.
Aly Pinder is Program Director for IDC
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