Since the pandemic, the term Connected Worker has become a common term in the corporate vocabulary and social psyche. Across almost every industry sector, people have come to expect that they can be productive - regardless of their physical location. Health, Mining, Power/Utilities, Education, Transport, Energy, Manufacturing, Retail, and more - all have found new ways to be more efficient and safer - and offer more reliable service by connecting their employees in real-time.
Unfortunately, the term Connected Worker is a generic phrase, and often hides its potential behind our immediate needs. By that, I am referring to the concept that there are a few easy steps a business can take to connect its workforce. Once completed, further benefits of digging deeper into the Connected Worker, which may offer higher rewards, may be overlooked.
For example, in Health, the advantages of remote consultations using video became immediately obvious as the entire world went into lockdown during COVID-19. For some Health Authorities globally, the rate at which the world transitioned to this model was truly astonishing. As the community began to venture out, many Health Authorities went back to their previous mode of operations, while others doubled down on new ways of supporting their patients remotely. 24/7 clinics, at-home testing, remote health monitoring devices, emergency call buttons, and so on, allowed for huge advances in support of patients regardless of where they were located - at any time of the day.
In Energy, Resources, and Industrial markets, a similar pattern evolved. Some organizations used Apps running on phones and tablets to better manage the more widely distributed staff, allowing for task allocations, real-time capturing of data, and time monitoring.
Meanwhile, others began to connect their workers via “Life and Safety” sensors, continuous on-body video recording, augmented reality glasses, high-accuracy location tracking, and so much more. This was one of the outcomes of “Industry 4.0”.
The question that bubbles up is, how do we see through the thin veneer of simple Connected Worker applications to the vast array of high-value capabilities on offer? The second question becomes, how do we identify the capabilities that offer real value to businesses?
Identifying new opportunities for Connected Worker solutions starts with identifying what we might be able to connect to. If we know what can be connected, it becomes easier to determine what the use case may be.
The three commonly recognized connection targets are:
By connecting people to things, whether they be machines, devices, or sensors, we can make a worker more productive. Some of these connections are one-way, with a user being able to control a device, or reciprocally receive information from a device. Others are two-way, allowing the worker to manage and communicate with the device on an ongoing basis, regardless of where they are.
Connecting people to people offers a huge array of obvious benefits. Allowing access to experts, allowing overseers to provide real-time contextual information to field workers, or just allowing collaboration and sharing of ideas over long distances can all offer significant benefits to many organizations.
Finally, connecting people to data allows for real-time insights to be gathered and shared. By retrieving data from the worker, or from sensors around them, we can now analyze and respond to arising situations far faster than ever before. Likewise, workers in the field having access to historical, training, or comparative data all provide opportunities for the worker to respond with better knowledge or insight than they may have on their own.
Opportunities become even more interesting when we leverage the potential that arises from linking the Connected Worker to things, people, and data all at the same time. I’ll talk more about this in a subsequent Blog.
If you’ll excuse me for mixing metaphors, if we dig through the veneer, instead of finding more wood, we are now looking for individual targets of value - the diamonds in the rough, if you would. These are the opportunities to gain significant operational benefits that will hopefully improve your worker’s daily experiences, resulting in better value for your customers and a high return on investment for your organization.
To achieve this, you need to think a bit outside the box, and ask the most impactful of questions, “what if?".
“What if … I could know exactly where my miners were in an emergency?”
“What if … my nurses could be guided directly to that portable heart monitor when the patient needed it?”
“What if … I could reduce return deliveries by giving my customers real-time visibility of where their packages were situated?”
So, from its simplest starting point, knowing what you can connect to and asking the question of “what if,” starts us down a very interesting path of building solutions that change business operations. This is a small but exciting example of the immense topic of “Digitization.”
In part 2 of this Blog, we’ll talk a bit about the next question in moving forward with your Connected Worker journey … “How would we?”
Gathering other opinions, ideas, and insights can be invaluable in making your Connected Worker project successful. Charter Telecom’s extensive IT experience is available to assist you in finding a path forward. With real-world experience in Manufacturing, Energy, Resources, Power/Utilities, Health, Retail, Transport Local and Regional Public Services, and more, Charter is well-prepared to assist you as you increase the capabilities of your Connected Workers.
Please contact Charter at email@example.com for more information.
About the author
Ronnie Scott has over 35 years of broad IT experience, including programming, network architecture, as well as senior consultative roles for Financial Services, Internet Service Providers, ILEC Carrier Networks, and large enterprise customers across New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.
Ronnie is currently the CTO at Charter Telecom Inc, a Value-Added Reseller specializing in IT service delivery. As CTO, Ronnie brings his extensive technological background with a strong Business and Service Delivery lens to Enterprise IT Infrastructure solutions. bit.ly/3E9QdBk