When travel stopped, the need for support and service grew tremendously among organizations seeking to expand technology utilization
David Beer, Director – EMEA Professional Services, Global Sales & Services, Zebra Technologies: Since the pandemic began, essential healthcare providers, retailers, warehouse operators, manufacturers and logistics companies have been under extreme pressure to expand and scale their operations at a lightning pace. Even utilities, public safety agencies and government entities have had to adapt to help protect their workers and the communities they serve. They all need their technology systems online and running optimally to keep up with demand without compromising safety. So, when lockdowns started and travel was restricted, technology providers such as Zebra had to find ways to support deployments and service equipment without being physically on site at customer locations. Business continuity in this regard was mission critical.
Zebra moved quickly to put people and systems in place that would enable us to “be there” for – and with – customers as they were conducting facility walk-throughs, setting up new equipment, configuring software solutions and even training their workers. COVID-19 may have disrupted many things, but it didn’t interrupt delivery of our Professional Services thanks to the creation of Zebra Remote Expert. Using technologies such as virtual (VR) and augmented reality (AR), organizations can have an expert ‘on site’ in virtual form. This allows us to have a better understanding of each customer’s needs and challenges and to ‘be there’ remotely, helping to efficiently design, implement or maintain complex technology solutions.
Benefits of augmented reality when engaging with remote experts
Anyone can pick up the phone and try to help someone troubleshoot an issue. But resolutions can be achieved a lot faster, and with far less challenges, when the experts are seeing what organizations are seeing. Video chat tools aren’t always the most efficient way to collaborate with front-line workers as many may only have access to handheld mobile computers and, even then, may need both hands free to show engineers, IT and professional service teams how something is working.
With the increasing use of Zebra’s HD4000 head-mounted display, remote experts have gained the visibility they needed to assess each customer situation with the same thoroughness they would if they were physically there in person.
When synced with the right AR software application, front-line teams can send a video feed to Zebra’s remote experts in real time so they can advise those on the ground on the best next steps to take. This type of virtual – and visual – collaboration is very much like what one might experience when calling IT for troubleshooting assistance on a tablet or laptop. Instead of “remoting” in via an app on the device to initiate a screen share, the HD4000 solution lets remote experts gain the same line of sight as the person wearing the camera-equipped glasses. This offers a full understanding of what workers are experiencing, which is proving to be beneficial to experts, partners, and customers. Nothing is lost in translation and real-time guidance can be provided based on facts, not assumptions. More than just “virtual assistance”
Customers all around the world rely on us to help guide them through the discovery, design, development, and deployment of very complex technology systems. With this new model, Zebra’s Professional Services can:
•conduct discovery workshops with retailers who want to put intelligent automation solutions to work in their stores;
•facilitate solution design sessions that must factor in the people, places, processes and systems impacted by the technology platform within the scope of dozens of safety, security and performance criteria;
•complete site surveys needed to properly architect real-time location systems (RTLS), anticipate potential execution issues and address prior to pilot starts;
•consult with multiple customer and partner stakeholders regarding workflow design to ensure a maximum return on investment for everything from RFID and automation platforms to prescriptive analytics and task management software;
•collaborate with partners to on-board collaborative robots (cobots) in warehouses where human workers benefit from the reduction in mundane task assignments; and
•collect data from implementations to help inform recommendations on solution and process refinements, resolve issues, and improve performance.
Each of these actions are strategic for organizations and require input from multiple stakeholders with widely varying skill sets, experience, and know-how. That’s why Zebra created the Remote Expert enablement service tool which is utilized today. This enables us to have all hands on deck, anytime help is required, whether this is from Zebra experts or our global channel partners.
Experts located far apart from one another, can converge virtually to support a customer in a quarter of the time it took when travel was involved. This allows us to effectively host a discovery workshop with a dozen stakeholders, walk a project site, and even help a customer team install new equipment.
Our commitment to customers
No matter what challenges organizations are facing or what type of changes need to be made, Zebra can be there right next to you, working through it together. Even if everything were to resume as normal tomorrow, it’s not necessary for customers to incur the travel costs of having someone on site for every workshop, deployment, upgrade, or diagnostic-related call. Sometimes, a quick video chat via AR will suffice. One of the ways to help those working hard to help maintain “business as usual” is by ensuring they have the full support in these challenging times.
If you want to learn more about our Professional Services team for remote expert support, please visit www.zebra.com/gb/en/services.html#text_e89e.