By Christophe Bourdeau, a Managing Director within Accenture’s Australian oil and gas practice

 

THE connected workforce is becoming an essential part of any future forward business strategy, and the market for connected workers is growing. As companies enter this new landscape, digital technology is evolving from an advantage to a basic expectation, and yesterday’s best practices are turning into today’s shortcomings.

According to research from Accenture, 94% of executives recognise a connected workforce as an essential element of their business strategy but only 22% have implemented Connected Industrial Workforce measures. As the appetite for a technology driven economy grows, organisations must tap into the benefits of new technology trends in order improve productivity, safety and innovation to enable an improved worker experience.

There is significant value to be unlocked through digital transformation and enablement of the connected worker. Those who implement connected workforce measures can expect to see improved efficiency and increased safety as well as a reduction in mechanical failures, non-productive work time, travel and re-work.

For example, BP launched a global transformation program and its innovations are ensuring its people are safer while working faster and more efficiently. Mobile applications are now freeing BP’s workforce from their desks and for example, creating mobility solutions for visual inspections supporting inspection efficiency.

Only through connected workers can your business achieve higher quality, productivity and job satisfaction. It’s about providing a complete relationship for a worker, so they have the information they need to do their job as well as possible.

Implementing connected workforce measures

While it’s the digitally disruptive players currently leading the pack – many companies are still needing the confidence to overcome any technical concerns (such as data and system vulnerability) to implement the connected workforce successfully. By envisioning the full promise of the connected workforce, many companies can identify what’s holding them back and begin to define their journey, who owns it, and the steps to get there. So, how do you get started?

The first step is to define the specific benefits that apply to your business and be bold in your thinking – as many leading companies already are. Then it’s time to review skills gaps, legacy IT systems, data and security systems to address what’s holding your organisation back.

What holds many companies back from diving in is the fear of going all out, while a bold strategy will help to set your direction the journey to a connected workforce often begins by addressing the daily bug bears of your workforce. With some quick wins under the belt initiatives begin to build momentum bringing your workforce on the journey as you prepare to tackle the strategic opportunities in your roadmap.

Step three is to raise your game in a commitment to moving the connected worker forward by dedicating higher proportions of your R&D budget to this initiative. At that point, you can then define your journey and who owns it by gaining senior leadership support, engaging all stakeholders in the strategic plan, identifying the value you expect to drive and tracking it properly. Finally, it’s time to identify new job profiles and build, train or hire to acquire the right skills.

It’s this type of implementation strategy and increased investment to propelling the connected workforce that is what distinguishes the few companies that are executing mature solutions with confidence.

The roadmap for creating a connected worker

To live up to business and client expectations, we need better equipped and closely connected workers, but what does it mean for employees to be connected and how can organisations guide these changes in the right direction?

To successfully manage a connected workforce, the whole organisation needs to adapt and ensuring the company is heading in the right direction starts with a roadmap. After all, if you want all hands-on deck when it comes to digital transformation, you need to make sure to equip those hands properly.

The roadmap is the strategy that sits within your digital transformation journey to help move it forward. Key to the roadmap is that it’s realistic and ensures you have the right tools to successfully implement initiatives. However, it’s always worth noting that even with a clear roadmap and definitive direction, the success of any connected workforce starts from the willingness of your employees to embrace the new.

Organisations must empower employees to make decisions on how they want to work, communicate the direction the organisation is headed towards and involve employees in every step of the way. Only then, will the chances of successful adaption of your digital solution be increased.

Without a doubt, a connected workforce will lead to an increase in efficiency, as people will be administratively unburdened, enjoying better day-to-day planning and achieve positive flow-on effect throughout their work.

A truly Connected Workforce promotes knowledge sharing, reduced risk, better decision making, enhanced relationships, improved workflow and smarter collaboration. With a concerted effort to achieve buy-in from your employees and a confident roadmap, the opportunities for your business will grow significantly, while enhancing your ability to innovate and scale.

Christophe Bourdeau.