Frontline workers form the very foundation of most industrial sectors wherein they carry out the core business operations from the fields and yet they often stay cut-off from most business decisions that take place at the executive level. Be it an industrial plant, an oil & gas site, a mine, a manufacturing facility, a 5-star hotel, or a busy hospital, frontline workers operate at the ground levels to ensure that businesses are being run smoothly without any glitches and hiccups. Wherein companies are investing millions of dollars in technological innovations, robotics, automation, digital tools, and industrial software platforms and enterprise applications, why is it that most of them are still disconnected from the concept of digital transformation?
However, this scenario is about to change in the coming years. As companies have started to realize their growing contribution towards business, one of their major agendas will be to drive digital transformation for the frontline workers. If reports are to be believed, a large chunk of enterprise technology investment is going to be aimed at empowering frontline workers with digitalization. In one of the articles named ‘You’re Hired’ published in New York Times in July 2019, it is clearly mentioned that “companies see a multi-billion-dollar opportunity to get more personal technology in the hands of workers who don’t sit behind a desk.”
Why is it Necessary to Drive Digital Transformation for Frontline Workers?
Companies are driven by two groups of people – the ones who build business strategies and the others who carry them out. Any kind of communication or alignment gap between the two can prove to be detrimental to the overall business results. Hence, digital transformation is equally pivotal for both business leaders and frontline workers. So, unless your digital transformation strategy aims to include the front-line workforce as well as the decision-makers, it cannot be considered as successful.
Digitalization should be embraced as a strategic approach to manage your frontline executives. When a business confronts certain broken processes or some issues at the ground level, it dramatically impacts the overall business revenue and growth. In this case, the C-suite executives would require more time, resources, and efforts to get to the root of the problem. Whereas, frontline workers are able to provide a better picture of the problem, suggest ways to resolve them faster, and are more capable of understanding the core causes. This is because of their direct proximity to the key situations at the ground level and their ready awareness of the conditions.
There is another reason why your frontline workers need to be digitally driven. Digital transformation will enable them to use the right enterprise application to improve their productivity, increase operational efficiency and get maximum output from their efforts. A digitally transformed frontline workforce will:
- Know how to seamlessly collaborate with the team using a secure and unified communication platform.
- Be able to easily feed, collect and manage all the records and reports related to their daily work and schedules using a private app.
- Know how to effortlessly share, access and exchange vital information and enterprise data within a secure network.
- Be capable of managing their day-to-day activities, meetings, schedules, and calls using the right device functionality.
- Be able to have better visibility and transparency of the entire business value chain, operations, and processes.
Imbibing digitalization will ultimately bring in the following business benefits at all levels:
- Skyrocket frontline productivity
- Enforce standard operating procedures
- Enhance the production line processes
- Improve decision-making capabilities
- Expedite real-time asset management
- Enhance customer experience
Empowering your frontline workers with the right digital tools and smart mobile devices along with the required knowledge and apt acumen to use them is a step that companies need to take at the very outset of digital transformation. This 360-degree approach to enterprise digital transformation will not only enable the frontline workers to understand the transformation strategies and address the issues in the right way but will also invite multi-disciplinary inputs to create holistic business solutions.
How to Initiate Digital Transformation for Your Frontline Workers
Digital transformation is a huge term and it connotes different things to different groups of people and professionals. The first thing to do is to understand how digitalization is conceived by your frontline workers and what problems will it solve for them and the company IT team to secure and control the usage of these digital tools and devices. When it comes to digitalization for frontline workers, it is important to be logical, specific, and relevant with the overall implementation of enterprise applications. Ideally, your frontline workers would seek these outcomes out of digital transformation – speed and convenience to carry out their daily work, precision, and consistency in processes and operations, visibility and transparency of data, and faster issue resolution.
Understand their attitudes, fears, and work challenges: The first step of implementing digital transformation starts with conversing with your frontline workforce to understand their core roadblocks at work. Sometimes, their biggest challenge lies in identifying what they really need to know and see about the business processes that will help them get their jobs done in a simplified and accurate manner. Hence, IT leaders first need to recognize the troubles, confusion, and complications they confront while carrying out their work and then decide about the digital solutions to streamline, simplify and secure their operations and work environments. The ubiquity of mobile devices, multiple platforms, software systems, and enterprise applications leads to a lot of ambiguity for frontline workers and they might struggle to understand their logical use cases and choose the solution relevant to their core activities at work. After analyzing their key work challenges and adoption obstacles, start introducing them to the solution – digitalization.
Introduce and train them to adopt digital transformation: After having an in-depth analysis of your frontline workers’ everyday challenges at work, it is time to introduce them to the benefits of digital transformation and how it can be achieved seamlessly with maximum impact, keeping their real-life use cases in mind. To make the concept sound simpler, help your frontline workers to navigate through all the available digital tools and platforms within the company and understand their work advantages in layman terms. Make groups and schedule training programs and use persona-based educational methods wherein they can imagine themselves as the user to better relate to the scenario, challenges, and the respective digital solution. Introduce the idea and benefits of using a single digital platform to perform multiple tasks and the ways it can help them do their jobs faster with precision and consistency. For instance, a single private app to feed all records, customer complaints, gain better visibility, communicate with the team, and drive other operational activities.
Give them only the tools and features they would need: Once they are convinced of the fact that digital transformation is going to make their life easier and work more convenient, they will be more open to explore and experiment with the digital devices, tools, and platforms. Suggest them to use the digital tools, features, and platforms depending on the existing adoption rate of digitalization and the current attitude towards the same. Remember that your frontline executives would not require to use multiple apps and platforms to carry out their everyday work. The availability of varied tools and features might as well distract them. So, the best way to make them realize the value of digitalization is to allow them to use only as many tools, features, apps, and platforms as truly required to perform at work. The moment they will be able to accelerate their productivity, efficiency, and accuracy using these digital means, they will turn into the true adopters of digital transformation.
Digital transformation for your frontline workers basically begins with the introduction of enterprise mobility wherein they are allowed to use mobile devices at remote locations to aid flexibility and convenience. In most cases, it is ideal for companies to provide them with corporate-owned devices loaded with the right private apps, and implementing a powerful Mobile Device Management solution comes with multiple business benefits.