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How 2020 Changes in Frontline Worker Jobs Help Guide Enterprise Technology Acquisition

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How 2020 Changes in Frontline Worker Jobs Help Guide Enterprise Technology Acquisition

During 2020 there was dramatic impact and change in the how frontline workers have been asked to perform their roles. Frontline workers have experienced understaffing, working longer hours, adapting to social distancing requirements. This can mean that there is now one worker on a given task where there was once two or a new delivery process in which delivery drivers do not collect signatures for deliveries.

Frontline workers can be grouped into categories:

·        Service workers. Individuals who are primarily performing client-facing activities in roles such as package delivery and retail associate. These workers are consumers of information and use technology for transactional outcomes and service needs of the client/customer.

·        Task workers. Individuals who are tasked with performing operational activities such as warehouse and manufacturing workers. These workers ae consumers of information, report task status and problems, access organizational information and interact with co-workers.

Enterprises invest in all forms of mobile and wearable technology that will drive efficiencies, productivity and safety for their teams. According to Gartner1, up to 70% of new mobile and endpoint investments over the next five years will be for frontline workers.

Device feature improvements must be able to provide improved support for shared (shift-based) activities, mechanisms for identity and access management and team communication. All frontline workers tend to share in the core communication and collaboration needs but also follow well-defined workflows that are specific to their role, industry, department, task and responsivities. The individual workflows tend to require configurability particularly to the line of business apps, services and hardware they use.

Technology Adapts to Frontline Worker 2020 Needs

Frontline workers experienced change in their day to day duties in 2020.  Let’s explore a few of the ways technology is being used to help them adapt and how that is help enterprises prioritize technology acquisition1.

Social distancing technologies. Enterprises have been adopting social distancing technologies to help frontline workers maintain safe distances from each other. Some of the technologies and solutions provide contact tracking capabilities for when an employee has been discovered to have Covid-19.

Unified Endpoint Management (UEM). Enterprises are focused on being able to efficiently and optimally manage their mobile device estate. UEM suites comprise five core technical capabilities to support enterprises with the management of mobile devices. Those are mobile device management, mobile application management, mobile identity, mobile content management and containment.

This is achieved through a single console that combines the application of data protection, device configuration and usage policies. UEM tools use analytics and telemetry from users, apps and devices to inform policy and related actions; and integrate with unified endpoint security (UES) tools to enhance policy management and enable frictionless authentication.

Device endpoint security. Security has always been critical. Enterprises are taking increased steps to evaluate and adopt endpoint technologies that provide protection for purpose-build devices and end-users.  These devices need to provide IT the ability to keep the device operating system up-to-date and patched to maintain their security. This includes the systems and services — beyond those available through UEM platforms — to secure access and consumption of corporate resources and content. Security is provided through authentication, encryption, containerization, and enterprise cloud file synchronization and sharing (EFSS), as well as content and domain filtering and anti-malware functionality. Security management includes mobile threat defense (MTD) solutions and professional services capabilities related to mobile security management.

Workplace analytics. Enterprises have been expanding their reliance on aggregated workplace analytics and insights that are gathered from applications, users, endpoint devices, processes and networks.  Workplace analytic tools help provide insights about the device, employee, team/department and overall organization. This information is used to improve areas such as technology use and adoption, worker engagement, user experience and system/workflow performance and behaviors that help improve collaboration and productivity.

Ring scanners. Frontline workers are relying more on easy to use devices such as ring scanners to quickly and easily perform tasks. The small barcode scanner that is worn as ring on two fingers enables workers to used both hands and scan at the same time. The scanner/imager is connected via wires or Bluetooth to handheld mobile computer. Recent developments in LED and low-power Bluetooth technology have boosted the capabilities and battery life to make the ring scanner an optimal consideration for worker performance. These scanners are also easily combined with voice technology.

Healthcare optimized devices. Enterprises are looking for healthcare optimized ruggedized handheld devices. These devices are manufactured with special plastics that are that can be sanitized with aggressive cleaning solutions that are typically used in healthcare environments.

Remote worker communication and guidance. Workers and associates have seen an increase in collaborating with colleagues in real-time through mobile and wearable devices. Using a device camera, a worker can share a view of their current environment and task being performed with a colleague/manager for assistance. The manager, for example, is able to provide verbal guidance from real-time visual input from the remote workers view. This type of interaction can be captured for training, post-task audit and performance analysis.

Team and workflow collaboration. Teams have found it important to refine and increase collaboration. These tools can include direct and group messaging, alerts, activity streams, files, tasks, bots, search, and meetings (audio, video). Collaboration tools create an ongoing chat-based work environment to help groups coordinate shared activities. This improves team communications and coordination by unifying interaction with applications, tasks and content.

Push to Talk. Frontline workers are leveraging apps on smart handsets that use alternate communication networks (Wi-Fi and cellular) to provide communications including push to talk (PTT), audio broadcasts, and messaging. These devices allow enterprises to consolidate devices for frontline workers and reduce costs. PTT on a mobile device eliminates the need for a second device in those scenarios where voice is being used to coordinate the activities of a team. In this context, PTT refers to applications or network-based services (PTT over cellular/Wi-Fi) delivering PTT on modern handsets/smartphones. After pushing the button, PTT some or all endpoints on that channel/frequency/group can hear what that person says until they release the button again.

Speech recognition and voice-directed workflows. Enterprises are engaging technology that is transforming manual processes into voice-directed workflows. Frontline workers wear a headset with microphones and communicate orally with software to receive and confirm tasks. Errors are reduced by providing a hands-free, eyes-up technology that keeps workers focused on the task at hand. There is no longer the distraction of looking at a screen or a piece of paper to know where to go or what to pick next. The worker is directed via voice through the entire process, allowing them to be more alert and aware while performing any number of tasks.

Software to Address the Health and Safety of the Workforce. Honeywell has expanded the feature set of Operational Intelligence with ability to support the needs of mobile workforce.

Operational Intelligence software is a remote asset management platform that helps DCs keep their mobile-equipped employees productive, while helping them respond to local site health and safety compliance requirements. New health crisis response features give employees control to act quickly, increasing productivity and decreasing device downtime, while reducing frequency of contact or touch. The features include:

·        Social Distancing Proximity Detection allows organizations to prioritize and monitor social distancing practices. The feature monitors the proximity between Honeywell devices and logs alerts, allowing frontline workers to promote social distancing and adherence to safety guidelines.

·        Check Out/In assigns unique devices or assets to a specific user, creating a chain of custody that provides managers device tracing data. This will provide real time visibility to each device’s location throughout the DC, thereby eliminating the additional costs and hassle of devices that go missing’ as a result of being misplaced or lost.

·        Device Cleaning Management gives you the ability to set-up configurable cleaning protocols for each asset. Configurations can be per employee on an hourly, daily or in-between shift basis. Each cleaning event will be logged with the user, time and date for reporting.  In addition, the feature can also send alerts to clean other assets and areas of the worksite.

·        Remote Control and Remote Wipe give IT administrators the availability to quickly take control of a device in any location to investigate and fix issues remotely and digitally wipe devices to original factory settings, allowing IT professionals to maintain social distances.

Honeywell Smart Talk for T&L Communications. Honeywell Smart Talk is a true voice-enabled unified workforce communications application for Transportation & Logistics environment that tackles the problem of fragmented communications. You receive enterprise-grade security for voice calling, text and media messaging, and user presence.  Smart Talk can be added to Honeywell CT60 Mobile Computer or to most types of mobile devices workers already carry. Device-enabled employees are always connected and able to access critical information from company headquarters and operational dispatch while out on the road making deliveries. This minimizes contact as they continue to maintain social distancing, while keeping their focus on meeting logistics needs

You enable smarter communications for the entire team from a single mobile device. One device to manage and maintain. One device replacing the need to support and buy consumer mobile phones.

Honeywell General-purpose Devices with Disinfectant-ready Housing. Honeywell is introducing a broad range of its most popular scanners, mobile computers, and printers with disinfectant-ready housings (DRHs) for general-purpose applications.

This is the same DRHs that Honeywell designed to withstand the regular cleaning protocol required to address the infection and disease control needs of the healthcare industry. Disinfectant-ready housings have been proven to be durable in more than a decade of use in the healthcare industry.

With the added benefit of being frequently cleaned, these devices can be used throughout the warehousing, logistics and retail fields with the same ease of use as standard Honeywell products but can promote a healthier work environment for employees and customers.  For more information see: Honeywell Announces Complete Line of General-purpose Devices with Disinfectant-ready Housing

Honeywell CT60 Mobile Computer. Honeywell has seen rapid adoption of contactless proof of deliveries. This new workflow has been adopted by many courier and logistics companies. Honeywell CT60 Mobile Computers are designed for delivery drivers that require real-time connectivity to business-critical applications. At every doorstep/location, the CT60 mobile computer enables the driver to scan the items and verify delivery with photos or SMS which can be sent to the customer as proof-of-delivery. The CT60 scan engine reads barcodes that are damaged or poorly printed at non-traditional fulfilment centers with ease, ensuring that packages that would not have been delivered reach their destination.

The CT60 has an IP67 rating and is able to withstand the rigors of T&L applications. Drivers need devices that can withstand the demands of working conditions such as drops, tumbles and vibrations. The CT60 can scan barcodes up to 30 feet (10 meters) and capture images through the 13MP camera capability.

The CT60 is part of the Honeywell Mobility Edge family of devices that offers an integrated, repeatable, scalable approach to workflow automation that is based on a common hardware and software platform. Designed for Android, it delivers a unified platform that all software solutions are based on. Businesses can develop and deploy faster while reducing development costs. Honeywell is deeply committed to the longevity and quality of the Mobility Edge platform. Honeywell ruggedized devices on the Android Mobility Edge platform offers the longest lifecycle in the industry with support through seven Android releases. The following products are built on the Mobility Edge platform: Honeywell CT40, CT60, CN80, CK65, and Thor™ VM1A, and VM3A.

Honeywell Enterprise Mobility. Honeywell Enterprise Mobility Services offers a comprehensive set of solutions that addresses every phase of the mobility lifecycle – from device selection to security concerns – while enabling your employees to work from any device at anytime, anywhere in the world. The Honeywell Enterprise Mobility Services are designed to improve operational efficiencies within the DC through managing spare pools including the repair and commissioning of devices, improving asset management and providing multi-tier support for the applications within the DC.

Honeywell Edge Services. Honeywell Edge Services provides the DC with a variety of solutions that support your devices throughout the life of your devices. With Honeywell Edge Services, you get a full-service solution or the ability to customize a solution that fits your exact requirements. Our offering also gives you the confidence of having leading-class technologies combined with service and support plans that are designed to keep you operational for longer. In fact,

extending device lifecycle from 5 to 7 years reduces the total cost of ownership by over 50% by reducing training, deployment and acquisition costs4.

Honeywell Offers A Full lineup of Transportation and Logistics Solutions. Honeywell’s transportation and Logistics solutions are utilized by organizations and facilities worldwide. Our innovative solutions allow for faster, smarter and more effective work to be done throughout the supply chain and specifically within T&L. The solutions are simple to integrate with existing IT infrastructure, shortening ramp-up times and getting critical technology in place to meet today’s demand. Honeywell offers a full lineup of T&L solutions, including mobile computers, printers, scanners and software.

Contact a Honeywell Solutions Expert today! Call 1-800-934-3163.

1Source: Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Managed Mobility Services, Leif-Olof Wallin, Rob Smith, Published 7 July 2020

Barry J. Ewell
SPS BLOG EDITOR

Barry J. Ewell is a Senior Content Marketing Communications Specialist for Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions. He has been researching and writing on supply chain topics since 1991.