The Fourth Industrial Revolution, Industry 4.0, Smart Manufacturing. Whatever you call it, the industry has been in the throes of digital transformation for some time.
The pressure was on to innovate processes and new business models. To become more flexible and agile. To reduce costs, drive competitive advantage, increase productivity and build sustainability.
Then along came the Coronavirus pandemic.
As we emerge from the crisis, the long-term impacts on the global economy are beginning to be felt. A recent survey revealed that 74% of CFOs intend to shift some employees to remote work permanently*. What’s the role of digital workplace transformation in this new landscape? And how can it help manufacturers to adapt to the new rules of business?
Facing a new reality
Big data, robotics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality… these are just some of the technologies already available to help manufacturing navigate the post-pandemic landscape.
But it’s connecting these technologies across the entire value chain that will allow manufacturers to reap the rewards of increased productivity, reduced costs and operational agility. Workplaces and workforces need to be equipped and supported with the right collaboration tools – and supported in adopting them – if they’re to get the most from Industry 4.0.
Creating this digital workplace brings complications that are unique to large-scale manufacturers. Head Office might be city-based, but factories are widely dispersed, often in rural areas or developing countries. Some sites will have legacy systems and aging infrastructures that are seen as a barrier to migration. The workforce will have disparate skillsets and varying degrees of technological know-how. Then there are the justifiable concerns over disruption to productivity and supply chain security. Flying engineers in to fix machinery or clean a food production line in readiness to make a different product will be challenging for some months to come.
The immediate impacts of the pandemic are both exacerbating these challenges and reinforcing the need for digital workplace transformation as a solution. The effects of lockdown on the supply chain, the contraction of markets and the associated pressure on demand and just-in-time delivery, maintaining social distancing on the shop floor and across sales and services – these are all issues that need to be overcome.
Augmented reality headsets to remotely upskill staff, thermal cameras to scan employees as they arrive at work and IoT solutions to maintain social distancing are being adopted by some to try and overcome these issues and are likely to become the new norm. As sites become more self-sufficient using collaboration tools with colleagues in other parts of the world – getting the underlying infrastructure right will become increasingly important. Whether it’s additional wi-fi hotspots, private 5G or multi-access edge compute.
Meeting your challenges head on
So, if manufacturers are going to benefit from digital workplace transformation without disrupting productivity or the supply chain, they need simpler solutions. They need to enable their entire organisation to collaborate across teams and across vast distances at scale and at speed. They need to be more agile so they can adapt rapidly to new business opportunities. And they need to enhance knowledge and sharing by connecting the shop floor to innovation.
We can help you meet these challenges. Our approach to migration means that multiple technologies, legacy systems, and varied infrastructure can be easily managed to create a single, seamless, secure global ecosystem that optimises the entire value chain.
We can help you connect smoothly and securely to collaboration applications, and any 3rd party platforms you may be considering for big data, machine sensor technologies, digital logistics and supply chain view - without any disruption to productivity.
And we can use all the knowledge and expertise we’ve gained from protecting our own network and corporate assets to help you secure an integrated and connected shop floor and a connected supply chain.
Boosting adoption across your business
One of the major keys to success is actively helping your people make the most of collaboration and digital services.
Our adoption management approach uses a persona methodology to make sure each member of your workforce gets the tools they need to be as productive as possible. And the training they need to use them effectively, regardless of previous experience.
Research shows that many employees already have 6-8 collaboration tools - yet businesses fail to see the promised productivity gains. We focus on making sure that employees understand the benefits of using these tools, whether it’s on the shop floor or in sales and services. And we’ve found that once users see how much such tools can improve efficiency, they’re very quick to embrace them.
Helping you create a compelling business case
Our innovative commercial models mean you can manage your costs and scale use as needed. A single global price per user allows you to predict costs and you can flex up and down on users, so you only pay for what you use. This means you can realise and demonstrate a quicker return on investment and assess the effect of collaboration on throughput and innovation to build a stronger business case for future transformation.
The real value comes from your end user experience
Collaboration across the entire value chain process will allow manufacturers to reap the rewards of digital transformation: increased productivity, reduced costs, greater operational agility and more effective use of resources – both material and human. Our approach delivers rapid adoption, a fantastic user experience and rapid returns: you can be saving money up 80% faster.
How we’ve helped our clients during the Coronavirus pandemic
We helped a global consumer goods manufacturer increase their VPN and MPLS capacity to deal with a boom in bandwidth demand as staff from across 50 sites began working from home. We also doubled their VPN licenses, increased MPLS bandwidth from 40 Mbps to 100 Mbps and doubled the secure VPN for their regional customers.
We helped a sustainable building supplies and construction specialist implement remote working fast. We quickly extended their VPN access, increased the bandwidth at their central hub, and helped their front office agents to take orders from home with full cloud contact centre functionality.
And one of our world-leading FMCG customers wanted to deliver live broadcasts and video conferencing for up to 300 users at a time. We enabled audio and video conferencing on an existing platform so they could, and we also doubled their RAS VPN capacity to cater for their increased internet usage.
Wherever you are on the road to digital workplace transformation, we can get you there faster. If you’d like to know more, we’re here to help.