In the last 20 years, we have changed the way we interact, buy and consume dramatically. Amazon has built an amazing shopping experience, Facebook the new social engagement, and Uber made it unnecessary to own a car. Now think about how your workplace has changed in the same time—do we have the same frictionless experience? The clear answer is No.
No disruption in the workplace
Of course, we have received new tools that make our daily work easier. Solutions such as Salesforce, Trello or Coursera make us more effective, relieve us of work and bring us new knowledge. However, those who have to show products or operate and repair them often have the challenge of 'translating' 2D into 3D.
Imagine your monitor is still black and white and you have to explain to your customer how your product looks in color—our brain has to take on the completely unnecessary task of transforming information while performing the task.
Many companies are still using paper or PDF and changing it to an online or mobile version. The work instructions are then available on a mobile device instead of printed, the training courses transition from paper to online. The bottom line is not an evolution, it is still 2D—just another medium.
The result is wasted time and frustration among employees and customers. While companies invest in sales and marketing tools like CRM systems and automation, operations are efficiently managed with PLM and ERP systems, the support staff lack the tools—even though they are directly connected to the customers.
3 ways to build a frictionless work experience
Our team at RE'FLEKT works hard not only to make work easier for the teams in companies, but also to have more fun at work, which automatically leads to better results. Visually enhanced 3D collaboration in the real environment is much easier to consume for our brain and becomes even better with a mix of content on a contextual basis.
Every company has different challenges, which is why I want to show three different ways to build a frictionless work experience.
1. Provide your teams with visual collaboration
Often technicians do not have the right information at the right place at the right time, instructions are outdated or too complex to understand. Everyone knows the examples from home when cryptic instructions make you spending more time on reading and understanding what to do instead of actually doing it. Most of the time it is just small things, but because nobody is on hand to help the employee, frustration escapes—in the team or with customers.
A quick video call with 3D assistance solves the problem in minutes. How often do we face the problem that we are not 100% sure that we are doing the right thing. If an additional pair of eyes takes a look at it and gives instructions on the product in the real environment, the situation is solved.
The advantage of 3D Live Assistance with Augmented Reality is that no content is required on the input side and existing mobile devices are used. No high investment, immediate operational readiness and short training time. My team-mate Lisa Scholz wrote an article about the differences between conferencing and support tools.
2. Reduce friction by using 3D work
Online trainings are quickly reaching their limits today. They are interactive but take place on the computer or tablet and not directly on the product. Step-by-step instructions, in turn, are an excellent means of achieving high quality, but here too, a high degree of abstraction is required from the employee in order to transfer the instructions from the paper to the product.
3D work instructions with Augmented Reality connect the worlds: existing paper instructions can be visually enhanced, complex areas can be made much more understandable by three-dimensional representations directly on the product. It is like the take-away workplace. In addition to the step-by-step instructions, AR offers computer vision and machine learning to automatically identify products and components and identify possible errors.
On the input side, a little more is needed to bring existing content into the 3D world or to create new content. For this, employees are spoiled with additional options: instant access to training and expertise, online or offline use, no internet access required, complete control over access and use of the instructions, updates within minutes and a lot more. William Harding, Industry expert in the medical sector, shared his experience with 3D visualization for trainings in an interview.
3. Build a digital base for on-demand expertise
Companies have mountains of data and information, but often not in a meaningful format. The disadvantage of paper documentation and training that does not take place on the product is that content is not connected, data is not used for improvement and employees are overwhelmed.
The combination of 3D Work Instructions and 3D Live Assistance solves many of these problems. Employees can practically train on-the-job and benefit from the experience of their colleagues. The teams provide feedback directly on the product and use the visual building blocks to create a visually enhanced know-how center in which different media are combined. Industry giant ABB is an example for an enterprise working on transforming existing data into a meaningful format by using Augmented Reality.
The step from the 3D work instructions to the integrated know-how solution is not far in terms of the input side. The greatest effort is to integrate into existing systems and processes. The value is clearly obvious: information, training and instructions at the push of a button that are used in various company areas. In this way, Augmented Reality can be used for support, for example, and the next step is for sales staff to take the 3D visualizations and present them to the customer.
Less friction means better work
Paper instructions and online training sessions are a thing of the past and that is where they belong. Covid-19 has clearly shown how quickly companies can get into trouble because in-person support is no longer possible—the solutions described here not only help to keep the business going. The change to 3D work leads to competitive advantages, offers a modern working environment and ensures higher customer satisfaction.
We have rolled out more than 200 AR projects in the past few years, helping mid-market companies and large enterprises to gain an advantage in the market. The feedback from the companies constantly results in new solutions and the entry with cloud-based 3D work solutions can be realized within days.
Every company has a different starting point and changes may require understanding and clear added value. In the paper "3Ps" we have summarized the most important information. A look at our resources page gives a good overview of the possibilities and success stories.