Organisations of all types and sizes are beginning to innovate with frontline worker technologies. In last week’s blog, we explored why you need a Microsoft frontline worker licence. Now, ahead of our live Meet the Experts webinar on the topic, let’s take a closer look at how you can really drive value from Microsoft 365 for frontline workers.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could harness the collective knowledge of your people to deliver frontline worker technologies that reduce wastage, improve productivity and unlock innovation within your business? With Microsoft 365, you can – by implementing Microsoft Teams as the hub for teamwork, you can tap into this experience and insight, and deliver no end of tools to your users.
Starting small utilising out-of-the-box (OOTB) capabilities within Teams for frontline workers, you can then expand this to deliver low/no-code mobile applications to solve specific business challenges, and finally utilise the large number of integrations with human resources (HR), finance or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to bring the back-office solutions to your frontline workers.
How can you make the most of Microsoft 365 for frontline workers?
Historically, since the release of Office 365 and even its previous iteration Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS), Content+Cloud has worked with clients to harness the power of the lesser-known applications within the Microsoft suite.
Going back many years, this was fairly straightforward (“Have you seen OneNote? It’s a fantastic electronic notebook”). This then became more complicated. (“We can use SharePoint Online/SQL to store data, implement a third-party workflow tool and deliver dashboarding through SQL Server Reporting Services”). Other requirements even specified removing the need for a third-party health and safety solution, and reducing the reliance of emails to distribute important information and tasks throughout the business.
The plethora of capabilities within M365 have ensured a whole spectrum of enquiries that have required us to deliver a user-centric approach to ways of working. Working with these clients, we’ve harnessed OOTB capabilities within M365 to deliver a great experience for knowledge-workers frontline workers and alike.
Microsoft frontline worker solutions: the classic Power Apps example
A great example of Microsoft frontline worker solutions in action is Heathrow Airport and its use of Power Apps. Security guard Samit Saini now leads a team of Power Apps super users who collaborate across the business.
Over the many years I have worked in IT, in technical, pre-sales and sales roles, this kind of career change would have been almost impossible without some form of technical training and close supervision, but that’s no longer the case.
To start at the beginning, Heathrow had started rolling out Microsoft Office 365 to frontline workers. Samit was given the opportunity to explore the toolsets available and provide user feedback. He was aware, as many users are, of the core productivity tools such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint but what he didn’t know about were things like OneNote, Forms and, most importantly, Power Apps.
Power Apps (and the rest of the Power Platform) allow users (citizen developers) to build useful applications and automate business processes using visual tools that require low/no code. Samit put his kids to bed one evening and built a test application, realising that with these applications he could learn some new skills and provide innovation across the ways of working in his team.
Samit created a proof of concept (POC) to digitise the ’language book’. This book contained all the airport’s passenger-facing rules regarding what could and could not be brought on board aeroplanes, translated into numerous languages, and was kept at all security locations. Samit had broached the subject of an electronic version of this previously but was advised by the IT team that this would be costly. However, with Power Apps, Samit was able to create the POC himself within a week. The Heathrow team was impressed with Samit’s application, which is still in use daily. Samit’s vision for Power Apps was adopted by Heathrow and the position of Solution Specialist was created for Samit.
How Microsoft 365 frontline workers are innovating today
Heathrow is an example of an organisation that is relatively mature in the Microsoft 365 space. However, we continue to work with organisations of all shapes and sizes that are only just starting out on their M365 journey, migrating from other cloud services or looking to exploit the services they are paying Microsoft for and reducing reliance on third-party solutions.
We’re seeing lots of our clients begin to harness the potential of Microsoft firstline worker technologies. Here are just three recent examples of the types of organisations we’re working with and the challenges they are solving:
- A manufacturing company wanted to deliver integrated payroll and holiday booking tabs in Teams, utilising single sign-on to third-party HR systems, to its factory operatives. It took the opportunity to deliver corporate news and communications via Microsoft Viva;
- A hospitality company aimed to ensure that its frontline workers have all the information required to ensure clients receive a personalised experience. It also sought to provide the tools for its housekeeping and facilities teams to ensure that rooms are well maintained, using a mixture of Teams, SharePoint Online, Forms and Power Platform;
- A retail organisation looked to modernise its business processes – some permanently, some on a temporary basis – while it modernises the majority of its back-office solutions. This programme relies not just on our support with frontline worker technologies technology but to a large degree on our business change and adoption capabilities.
How can I get support with adopting technology for frontline workers?
It’s fair to say that implementing M365 is a journey. Even more so, bringing frontline workers, who may typically not have been consulted or are used to receiving command and control instructions, into the fold is no easy feat.
As you implement some of these technologies and start to mature, additional challenges are introduced to your business. How do you keep on top of the features/functions being pushed out by Microsoft? How do you govern your citizen developers? How do you ensure the technology is well adopted and the adoption curve maintained?
Working with a partner that has experience in delivering the technology, business change and adoption, and that is used to listening to its clients’ problems and designing cost-effective solutions, can really help unlock the value in the Microsoft stack for your frontline worker technologies.
In this second blog of two, we’ve got into the basics of how Content+Cloud can help you unlock value from M365 for your frontline workers.