Digitising the working environment of frontline workers – Summary

19 février 2024 | ACTUALITÉS, Cigref in english, Communiqués

Today, digitisation is increasingly extending beyond the physical boundaries of organisations: frontline workers (industrial operators, service agents, labourers, etc.) are affected by it, as part of a continuum of digital services between the office and the field. They are even an essential link in the organisation’s data strategy, as they collect data from the field.

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At the same time, IT departments are increasingly developing IT/OT (operating system) convergence systems to enable industrial systems to communicate with the company’s digital system. In fact, this topic was the subject of a Cigref report published in 2019[1] , which deals with convergence projects between information systems (IT) and industrial systems, which have traditionally been separated at both technical and organisational levels, and which develops recommendations around three scopes: data, security and skills.

Following on from these reflections, the members of the Task Force focused on the theme of the digital working environment of frontline workers, which presents organisational, technological and managerial challenges, asking themselves how the IT Department can respond to the need to digitise these frontline workers, by integrating the issues of security, user experience, skills and inclusion.

The IT Department faces a number of challenges:

  • Attractiveness: frontline workers naturally want to benefit from a user experience similar to that offered by consumer IT, and are now demanding that they develop their employability by having access to more modern digital tools. On this point, the Cigref report  » The 5-year evolution of the working environment : the IT as a service for employee experience« , published in 2019, noted that « the IT department must manage the company’s major balances while offering employees a simple and fluid experience that corresponds to their experience outside the professional sphere. » Ergonomics and the playfulness of interfaces are also key differentiators.
  • The security of solutions, data and access management: the working environments of nomadic populations raise the technological challenges of application convergence, interoperability of equipment and services, and operator awareness.
  • Productivity: as the objective is to improve economic performance by increasing operator productivity, the IT Department must ensure that the solution is adapted to the realities on the ground, and that it is quick and easy to learn.
  • Responsibility and inclusion: helping people to get to grips with their new environment is also a question of corporate social responsibility, which can help to combat the digital divide.
  • The cross-disciplinary nature of data and the pooling of digital systems, which requires appropriate project governance.
  • Simplifying the user path: it is essential to take account of operational routines, by creating usage scenarios to facilitate the adoption of tools, make data entry and collection more fluid and enable a commitment to Manufacturing 4.0, for example.

The aim of this summary is to share best practice in identifying the key success factors and pitfalls to be avoided by IT Departments in developing digital working environments for frontline workers.

[1] https://www.cigref.fr/cigref-report-it-ot-convergence-a-fruitful-integration-of-information-systems-and-operational-systems

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