Amidst a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic that has radically transformed people, processes, products while simultaneously ushering in a “new normal”, it’s hard to escape the proverb “there’s no time like the present”.
This was especially prevalent during the first episode of LiveWorx 2021: The Limited Series, in which panelists addressed how the pandemic accelerated the speed with which companies adopted new tools for their workforce, namely augmented reality (AR) and software as a service (SaaS), and advanced what they see as possible in the future.
Underscored by the themes of collaboration, continuity, and innovation, the first discussion with Tim Salau, a.k.a. “Mr. Future of Work”, took a look at collaboration, specifically how the rapid decentralization of the workforce begs the questions “What is my job? Versus what is my career?”. Welcoming remote work as a new expectation, Salau argued that to help workers remain interested in the tasks at hand, the company must have an infrastructure that is flexible enough to account for transformative technologies.
The strengthening of the creative environment can be seen in the technologies employers are incorporating into their workforce’s routine. He identified a division between technologies deployed to strictly automate all aspects of work – something that can be demoralizing and detrimental to employees’ desire for continued curiosity – and tools that empower the employees to flex their creative muscles.
Salau recommended tools that integrate with one another for a seamless workflow (i.e. AR and SaaS offerings). By fostering an environment that allows for curiosity and imagination to thrive, employees will feel empowered when trying to build and expand on new ideas. Thus, maintaining the level of connection and desire for collaboration they would feel in the office.
Later in the episode, Mike Ekbundit, Director of Engineering Development at GE Appliances, a Haier company, focused on the innovation theme to highlight how high school students leveraged industry-leading computer-aided design technologies to create an improved visitor experience for mobility-challenged sightseers of a local park. SaaS offerings, such as PTC’s Onshape product development platform, enabled the students to innovate in real time and iterate upon existing designs wherever, whenever needed. Unlocking the students’ creative drives helped introduce STEM to them in a more hands-on fashion, empowering them to take the lessons learned in the project and carry them through the rest of their professional schooling.
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