This blog series on Remote Expertise Network software explains why it is important, how it works, and what you should know in putting it to work in your organization.
Remote Expertise Network (REN) is an advanced, connected way to improve the productivity of industrial workers.
REN solves the hard, persistent problem of getting the job done in the field or remote locations with fewer return trips, smaller crews and less skilled workers.
REN also captures collaborative impromptu know-how of experts and master technicians. It also provides automation for distributing this knowhow at scale across the enterprise.
Unlike traditional web-conferencing technologies such as Zoom, Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams, etc., Remote Expertise Network workspaces:
- Works offline and online including with low bandwidth or spotty internet connectivity
- Includes a full suite of collaboration tools such as sharing documents, whiteboards and videos as well as hand-free creation and escalation service tickets or incident reports
- Provides a ready-to-use platform for capturing and distributing tribal know-how, including short-form explainer and how-to videos
- Provisions industrial cloud services and content management to connected workers on their mobile devices, laptops or call center workstations
REN Workspaces provide three improvements over texting or “plain vanilla” web conferencing:
1/ Better contextual understanding of the job to be done.
This represents a deeper, more complete, and real-time understanding of what’s happening in the connected worker’s immediate environment or with their equipment or team mates.
2/ Fast, secure and documented access to remote experts.
This includes the hands-free creation of service tickets and the ability to escalate a request for service to qualified and available experts.
3/ Immersive multimodal collaboration with available internal and external experts/
This is the ability to share and to “see what I see” on a one-time basis with others using a smartphone, tablet, laptops or remote call-center workstations.
It might help to describe Remote Expertise Network (REN) Workspaces in terms of similar or complementary technologies.
REN workspaces include many of the functions and services of personal productivity, communications and collaboration technologies
- Web meetings
- cloud drives
- Shared documents
- Multimedia content capture
REN workspaces may serving as edge-computing endpoint with a hands-free, voice-controlled interface to enterprise business applications
- Operations management
- Customer relationship management
- Enterprise asset management
- Service management
- ERP or supply chain management
- Learning management
REN workspaces also provide a unique set of functions and data services that span the gap between the linear workflow activities and structured data of enterprise business applications and the nonlinear (circular, iterative and contingent) workflow activities and unstructured data of personal productivity and collaboration applications.
Remote Expertise Network workspaces provide a powerful, modeless (no context switching) human-computer interface to software applications, multimedia content, and business services.
Workspaces (see Intelligent Assistance)
The concept of workspaces has been around for decades.
Workspaces represent a type of human-computer interaction with the emphasis on getting a targeted class of jobs done.
For example, Microsoft Office provides a productivity suite of software to knowledge workers.
Each application such as Word or Excel enables a workspace where users create, edit, share or consume documents or spreadsheets, respectively.
Zoom is a web application that enables a workspace for conducting and participating in online meetings.
However, the MS Office requires context switching between Word and Excel.
Each context switch, especially when performed on a small screen (tablet or smartphone) consumes a tremendous amount of brain power and attention.
When performed in noisy, cramped or outdoors, context switching on small screens can create unsafe and dangerous working conditions.
With the broad use of smartphones, tablets and handheld devices, workers of all sorts have become more connected.
Connected work now means that workers, especially those working on production lines, in the field or offsite with customers, are in constant communication with each other, their supervisors, support center staff, and operation control centers.
Connected Workspaces for industrial workers
This brings us to specialized workspaces for use by field technicians, auditors, line supervisors and safety teams.
Connected Workspaces for industrial workers spans the gap between traditional business service-applications such as Service Management and knowledge worker productivity applications such as MS Teams, Box.net and Sharepoint.
REN workspaces bring the depth and power of enterprise and public cloud computing to each connected worker without compromising their safety.
Remote Expertise Network workspaces bring digital empowerment to one of the last remaining areas of enterprise performance support: the front lines.
The term performance support emphasizes instant assistance in the completion of specific tasks.
Performance support takes place on-the-job.
This expands the older concepts just-in-time training, mentoring and implicit learning to include collaboration and traceability.
Performance support includes the use of software applications, connected tools and PPE, or any conversation, that improves safety and productivity.
Connected REN Workspaces support all these modes performance support and just-in-time training and implicit on-the-job learning:
- Live synchronous communication as well as time-shifted, stored-and-forwarded recordings
- Remote and onsite collaboration including virtual over-the-shoulder mentoring
- Self-guided work as well as remotely facilitated work
- Hands-free access to linear “do this, then that” procedures, work instructions, etc. as well as non-linear troubleshooting guides and diagnostics
- Passive observation from remote safety operations centers or active, directed monitoring of critical activities
- Local-only multimedia recordings and live streaming with later synchronization and bulk-uploading of local recordings
- Remote mentoring and certification for particular types of work
Implicit on-the-job learning and development
Remote Expertise Network workspaces support on-the-job training and professional development of industry workers, technicians, auditors and safety specialists.
Implicit learning means that the primary focus of workers stays on performing a job in the most efficient and safest way, and not on training.
“Implicit on-the-job learning emphasizes getting a job done in a way that also trains the worker and ensures safety. The combination of step-by-step automatic documentation of the job being done with the live interaction with remote mentors produces complete work AND deliberate practice.’
Some learning and development professions call this Task-based Learning (TBL) that emphasizes the completion of meaningful tasks within real-world settings.
Remote Expertise Network (REN) is a software application and cloud service of SmarTECHS.
Customers can start using REN software and related performance support content on their existing mobile tablets, smartphones, laptops and headmounted wearable computers.
REN workspaces operate offline or offline, and may integrate with a customer’s workforce, enterprise asset management, or learning management systems.