Today, there is a gap between retiring workforce and finding their replacement with the required niche skills sets. At times, it is a challenge even to hold the skilled resources long enough to break-even for the training and knowledge transfer cost borne by the organization. These factors, that is, lack of essential knowledge and cost-inefficacy form major challenges for an organization with a mobile workforce.
Organizations need to invest in building digital tools and frameworks and adopt new technologies like Smart Wearables, which act as guardians of the knowledge and insures against turbulent workforce movements across organizations.
With rapid adoption of smart wearables across businesses, and by equipping the field worker with wearables like head-mounted tablets, powered with capabilities for augmented reality (AR) and collaboration tools like audio/video call/chat, they can access a vast knowledge base and get step-by-step guidance in real time. However, like every niche technology, it is essential that this transition is done the right way.
Three things that should be taken care of before taking the plunge:
o Robust end-to-end integration of wearables needs to be ensured using IoT platforms for leveraging benefits in real time
o Strategy should be in place to compete against established models like BYOD and at the same time, bringing IT on-board to manage one additional device per employee This could generate a lot of work for IT if not planned ahead in time
o Readiness to adhere to guidelines defined for user experience, connectivity and operation environment compliances (IP67, IP68…)
o One way to address this concern is by building credibility with validation processes like Google dogfooding
o Apple MFI certifications are important to consider if your wearable wants to pair up with an iPhone/iPad
o Factoring in ‘evolving’ customer expectations in terms of enhanced features, battery life etc. is also equally important
Two telecom leaders, operating some of the most complex network infrastructure/services for managing large subscriber bases in UK/Europe and India, faced similar problems related to workforce. After a complete business benefit analysis of AR/VR (virtual reality)-enabled wearable solutions by interacting with different regional teams/stakeholders and understanding their pain areas, a trial plan was devised to estimate the true business values. The outcome of the solution implementation was over 30% business improvement, with business benefits as below:
- Greater volume of done work remotely - 20% incidents resolved remotely
- Improved productivity level – Reduction in job times
- Elimination of waste – 70% reduction in avoidable jobs
- Cost-effective resourcing – About 30% improvement in FTE costs
During the trials in India, one incredible situation occurred where a 2G telecom engineer was able to solve a 3G network problem (BTS repair) with the use of wearables/AR-based collaborative solutions.
Adoption of smart wearables can be tricky, and can lead to successful or failed attempts. Organizations that invest with a thought-through strategy for wearables-based applications for maintenance and repair, secure access and time management, will lead the digital transformation journey, and reap early bird time and cost benefits.