Technology Record - Issue 25: Summer 2022

131 of flexibility, no matter what kind of device or operating system they use. All communications are now conducted entirely via Microsoft Teams and the intranet, enabling a single app to support internal chat, telephony, data transfer and other functions. Meanwhile dedicated channels for apps, SharePoint and security mean that everyone knows where to ask questions and receive answers. In this industry, hardware can be as critical as software in enabling safe processes that reflect the way workers operate. “On factory tours, we’ve seen frontline workers wearing toolbelts crammed with devices including pagers, cell phones and walkie-talkies,” says Chaudhry. “It was clear how much frontline manufacturing workers value push-to-talk communication, so we worked with partners like Zebra Technologies to include a push-to-talk button for the Microsoft Teams Walkie Talkie app on ruggedised mobile devices. “For workers whose hands are already full, Dynamics 365 Guides and Remote Assist, coupled with Microsoft HoloLens devices, can be used to provide hands-free, on-the-job guidance, training and collaboration. And our alliance with RealWear has brought access to Teams through head-mounted displays, so workers can seamlessly communicate with remote colleagues while working safely.” Combining Teams with Microsoft Power Platform and Power Apps also empowers workers to be proactive in driving new processes. “Frontline managers are leveraging the what-yousee-is-what-you-get capability of Power Platform and Power Apps to create custom low-code and no-code applications, which sit within Teams and enable new processes on the factory floor or for service technicians visiting customer sites,” says Chaudhry. “That has helped many manufacturers get through the worst of the last couple of years and it holds huge potential for the future.” It's a strategy that looks beyond the tools and knowledge people need today, to foster a sense of community and purpose that opens new paths for continual learning and upskilling. “Digital transformation extends to the way we think about training itself,” says Chaudhry. “A frontline culture where all employees have the skills and training to succeed and feel like they can balance productivity with personal well-being is critical to drive the future of manufacturing. Tools like the Praise function in Teams and Yammer Communities, for instance, create a twoway communication path so employees know they are being heard and appreciated.” Creating that culture was important for Blum, a manufacturer of kitchen furniture fittings. It chose Microsoft Viva to centralise company news, tasks and conversations so frontline workers, who had previously relied on supervisors and a noticeboard for important updates, had a consistent, accessible connection to the larger company. Now, workers can use Viva Connections on the factory floor for anything from messaging colleagues to reserving time off, reviewing payslips and ordering snacks for breaks. They can quickly reach the person in charge if they have a question or need to report an incident. Using the system for social connections also helps them to build communities around shared activities and deepen their understanding of each other’s jobs. Viva Connections is one of four Microsoft Viva modules that enable workers to access in-context information, role-based learning paths and interactive, virtual training sessions on the same interface they use for everything MANU FAC TUR I NG & R E SOUR C E S