Mobile technology holds key to up-skilling workforces

Posted on 20 Nov 2013 by The Manufacturer

Steve Mason, Vice President, EMEA, ClickSoftware, discusses the impact mobile technology will have on up-skiling future workforces.

Steve Mason, Vice President, EMEA, ClickSoftware

Imagine creating a car, sending it out to market, and continuing to sell that car without ever updating and improving it. You would not last very long as a business, would you? Yet to some extent, this is how several companies handle their staff. Employees are hired with a certain set of skills and then put to work, rarely being given the option to enhance their talents.

However, like the products, projects, and services they work on, staff should be afforded regular training opportunities. In the past, this has been hugely difficult as companies needed to plan months in advance, taking precious time out of their diaries, as well as factoring in the loss of resource into the overall projects they are working on. Logistically and financially, it is sometimes as much of a challenge as the project they are working on.

Fortunately, technology is being developed which allows you to up-skill staff in a far more efficient way. Instead of getting all your engineers into one room and giving them a training course, why not give them the same training, but in bitesize portions? And instead of getting them into one room together, deliver the training where they are. Until recently, such an idea would be impossible to accomplish. Yet with the speed at which mobile technology has advanced, it is now possible to deliver video tutorials via smart devices. Now engineers travelling to a site can take on board these tutorials and pass mini examinations at whatever time and location they choose.

Also, because information and guidance can be delivered in this way, why not take it a little further? This option can be used to add new skills to their core functions. For example, engineers working on the aftercare of a project have the ideal opportunity to cross-sell. After all, they are in the same room as the customers that are buying from them. No amount of advertising or marketing spend can beat face-to-face conversations with the customer – so why not use it.

We are seeing more and more manufacturing companies adopting mobile devices to give engineers the information they need to cross-sell whilst also carrying out their core role. For the engineer, they now have the opportunity to diversify and add a new string to their bow. Feedback that we’ve heard from the engineers themselves revealed that they find the opportunity of gaining this whole new array of skills and talents an incredibly liberating experience.

And it does not stop there. Even if engineers cannot sufficiently be trained via a smart device, it gives them a portal to get further advice or information, making it far easier to complete jobs quickly, and in one go. For example, if you are working on the maintenance of a transformer and you do not know how to fix a certain part, having an app on your smart device which instantly puts you in touch with someone who can supplement your knowledge opens up the potential to complete the job there and then. And even if the engineer cannot fix it on the spot, they can order the parts and support that will get the job done, and schedule those elements to arrive at the earliest possible opportunity.

In this connected world, engineers should be given the chance to widen their capabilities. A greater set of skills is not only beneficial from the individual’s point of view but for the company too as it allows them to be able to harness their collective expertise in a smarter way. Mobile technology is imperative to both up-skilling an engineer’s core competencies and giving them the ability to collaborate in a way that ensures their tasks are completed faster and more efficiently.