As we all begin Return to Work while COVID-19 is still a menace, we talked with several of our customers and read various publications including the Harvard Business Review to identify the “New Normal”. Here is what we discovered:
1. Resilience: For the last couple of decades, the business world was focused on efficiencies and cost reductions. Supply chains were outsourced across the globe and Just In Time Inventory was the mantra. Not anymore. Resilience takes precedence over efficiency as COVID-19 has disrupted supply chains and operations. Business Continuity demands that redundancy be built in now.
2. Contactless: Not only are our customers bringing up the need for contactless, but many prospects are also inquiring about mobile apps and migrating from paper forms to digital. They want to automate workflow to avoid face to face. Less touch is good. This is translating to more barcode/RFID scanning, less travel to work sites, and a movement away from shared devices like kiosks to personal mobile devices–phones or tablets.
3. Work From Home/Anywhere/Anytime: In many cases, Work from Home alone is not an option. Plant and Field assets cannot be inspected always remotely and maintenance/repairs for sure need a physical presence. In such situations, Plant Managers and Field Supervisors want to enable access to work from anywhere anytime. For example, field technicians should be assigned their work orders on their mobile devices instead of meeting a supervisor to get these directions or work when they are offline.
4. More Digital/Less Paper: Yes, companies are cutting costs and conserving cash. Yet, the only way to survive is to create an even bigger digital footprint. Our customers are now enabling greater self-service for customers. These digital technologies are not necessarily cutting edge–for example, we are building several web apps that enable customers to order goods and manage their accounts online with integration to ERP systems like SAP. Similarly, vendor-related processes like complaint handling are moving online.
5. More IoT: Businesses want to enable automatic data capture and get better insights from that treasure of digital data. They want the IoT data to trigger actions like creating Work Orders automatically to move to predictive maintenance.
6. More Augmented Reality/Mixed Reality: The future lies in less face to face training. So, our customers are beginning to evaluate applications like Remote Assist from Microsoft and other vendors. Predict.
7. More Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence: Customers are taking a greater interest in ML/AI as a means to make better decisions with less human intervention. One area that has come up more than once is related to home and auto insurance. Companies are looking to automate claims processing with image recognition of photos of the damage.
Among these 7 trends, Resilience and Contactless stand out as they did not feature on the Agenda before. Of course, they cannot be viewed in silos, as one trend certainly affects the others. At Unvired, we have been fortunate to work in most of these areas. So, if you want to chat about any of these trends, please email or send me a LinkedIn message or contact us on our website.