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May 5, 2021 Yannick Haeck

Takeaways from Gartner’s Report on the Connected Factory Worker

Highlights from Gartner on the benefits of leveraging connected worker solutions for industrial digital transformation.

In April, Gartner published its first-ever "Innovation Insight for the Connected Factory Worker".The research note provides an overview of the benefits of this emerging and important solution category, while also sharing recommendations for avoiding risks. Poka is honored to be one of the Representative Providers mentioned in the note.

The report comes at a time when the industrial skills crisis has been worsened by the pandemic and is still growing because production environments are increasingly automated and complex. According to a study released by Deloitte and NAM this week, “77% of manufacturers say they will have ongoing difficulties in attracting and retaining workers in 2021 and beyond.”

Connected worker solutions can help by giving frontline operators and team members access to the tools they need to learn continuously, solve problems more autonomously, and share operational knowledge.

Gartner offers this definition, “Connected factory workers leverage various digital tools and data management techniques to improve and integrate their interactions with both physical and virtual surroundings while improving decision accuracy, proliferating knowledge and lessening variability.”

The research note is full of valuable insights as you might imagine based on the title. Here are just a few of my top takeaways.

More Than Technology

A common pitfall in many digital transformation efforts is to view technology as a silver bullet to solve problems. Equally common is the desire to accelerate projects in a race to value realization. Such an approach to the connected worker can not only jeopardize success, but it is also short-sighted.

According to Gartner, “The connected factory worker concept is a new approach to industrial efficiency. It’s as much a technology construct that changes how factory workers access information and knowledge to do their jobs differently, as it is a change management exercise that is rooted in workforce development, behavioral shifts, and integrated continuous improvement. 

We couldn’t agree more.

There are hundreds of Poka factories across the globe that have revealed clear success criteria for any connected worker project. A commitment at all levels of the organization is most important to leverage Poka in daily work in pursuit of a shared purpose – manufacturing excellence. Using Poka as an enabler to your standard work and continuous improvement efforts helps unlock the true value of the platform.

Focus on Worker Experience

The realities of work in a factory are a world apart from the work experience of office or ‘desk’ workers. It’s fast-moving, complex, and business-critical with limited opportunities to step away to collaborate with peers. 

With this in mind, it is obvious why a connected factory worker needs a mobile-first application that offers easy access to in-context data as well as visual, micro-lessons, at the point and time of need. Equally important is the ability to communicate with remote experts to solve problems and to complete tasks as efficiently as possible.

“Garner buy-in and eliminate bias by involving the worker in the design process. Taking a ‘how to improve a day in the life’ approach will increase engagement, continuous learning and ultimately foster a pull-based approach,” recommends Gartner.

This focus on the worker experience is a core design principle behind Poka. The application was purpose-built for frontline factory workers which ensures ease of use and drives adoption.

Scale Use Cases and Value Over Time

An equally valuable insight from the report is related to short and long-term use cases.

Poka’s approach to getting new factories started is to limit the scope of initial use cases based on each site’s targeted outcome priorities. By examining your business goals and the challenges standing in your way of achieving that outcome, priority use cases become clear and KPIs can be monitored.

This focused methodology has proven time and again to deliver fast time to value. Although short term use cases have strong enough value to justify the investment, the real opportunity is in the long-term value, including cultural change, which is more difficult to measure. For connected worker initiatives to truly succeed, it needs to make fundamental changes to behaviors and skills, specifically problem-solving capabilities and lean culture. 

Keeping these larger objectives in mind while building an army of problem solvers and autonomous workers will ensure that a connected worker platform like Poka becomes the catalyst for enduring change.

Gartner subscribers can read the full report here.

Gartner, Innovation Insight for the Connected Factory Worker, Dana Stiffler, Simon Jacobson, 9 April 2021.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

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