HxGN RadioPodcast

Improving human performance with personalisation

In this episode of HxGN Radio, Brian Moura, Global Portfolio Marketing Programmes Manager – Operations & Maintenance at Hexagon’s Asset Lifecycle Intelligence division, sat down with Blair Morgan, President of Innovatia Accelerator, now a part of Hexagon’s Asset Lifecycle Intelligence division, and Brent Kedzierski, former Head of Learning Development & Strategy at Royal Dutch Shell, about how mass personalisation of content is directly attributed to human performance.

Per Arc study, human error is cause of 42% unscheduled downtimes and of this 16% is directly attributed to procedural deficiencies. Find out more about the worker-focused strategy that has led AcceleratorKMS to being an industry leader in digital transformation and improved efficiency for Fortune 500 organisations around the world.

B. Moura: Hello, and welcome to this episode of HxGN Radio. I’m your host, Brian Moura. And in today’s podcast we’re going to be discussing how a worker-focused strategy has led AcceleratorKMS to become an industry leader in digital transformation and has improved efficiency for Fortune 500 organisations around the world. Now joining me today are Blair Morgan, President of AcceleratorKMS, which is now part of Hexagon’s Asset Lifecycle Intelligence division, and Brent Kedzierski, former Head of Learning Strategy and Innovation at Royal Dutch Shell.

Thank you all for speaking with us today. So, let’s kick things off. I’ll start with you, Brent. Could you tell me a little bit about your experience at Shell working to drive innovation and digital transformation?

BK: Hey Brian, thank you very much. Great question. I’d started actually the journey in Shell in 1999. And my whole gig was to drive the globalisation of the enterprise at a strategic level. And if you think about it, the digitisation didn’t really go mainstream until about 2015. And also, if we think about it, in 2011 we had the kick-off of industry 4.0 with the cyber-physical connectivity of big data analytics, sensors, drones, all those kinds of things. And in 2015, I started to lead the digitalisation journey as far as learning goes. And at the time, our CEO put out a goal to have a 2 billion dollar harvesting from digital transformation. So, one of the first things we did in manufacturing is we invested 50 million dollars in simulation, simulators for our various plants and our process units. Big journey because it was a heck of an investment, number one.

And it was a heck of thing to do from an organisational level, because you had so many different kinds of vendors and systems and tools and every process unit was older. Some were built in 1929, some were built in 1970. So, lots of complexity to deal with. And then another big digital transformation we did was the largest-scale ever implementation of a global virtual reality learning system. So, this system went across the globe. Different languages, had to go through the cloud, had to be locally installed, all those kinds of things. And one of the other things that we did that was probably one of the most transformational items, was we digitised our procedures and our learning content. So, I think the thing that I learnt through all this transformation was there’s an arc of drama in digital transformation. So, everybody goes through it because you have this digital idea of a protagonist and an antagonist. And somebody’s got this great idea, but then all of a sudden it goes to this rising action where you say, wait a minute, we’ve got our naysayers, there’s people, process, system issues, a lot of conflict.

And then you work through that rising action. Then you have this climax where there’s all kinds of trouble. They don’t understand bandwidth. They don’t understand the scale. You know, all the complexity of transformation hits you. But you have to get through that because that’s where your biggest learnings come in. And so that’s where we would really learn about “well, you can build a solution, but then you got to pay to have cloud delivery.” And then you’ve got to pay to have it maintained to be relevant. So, a lot of those things. And you go down the arc cycle because now you’ve had all these learnings and people say, wow, we didn’t know that. And that was actually for the next time we do it, we can do it better, we can do it faster. And then you get a reward because you’ve done something that’s really relevant and distinctive and you’ve been a pioneer.

And then, so the cycle all begins again. But in that cycle, you always have this beginning, and you always have a middle. And this middle of digital transformation today is very, very messy. Because middles are just simply messy. And then you get to this from point A to point B state. So, I mean, this is the whole thing that people really have to understand is we’ve got to go through digital transformation, and you’ve got to be able to do it through faster cycles. So, I’ll give you just an example from that procedure bit. It took us like five years to vet, do proofs of concepts, do pilots and digitise our first 500 procedures.

The next year we were able to digitise over 25,000. So just think about that cycle. It took you five years to do 500, but only one year to do 25,000. Just think if we could have harmonised that and just gone on with it, we would’ve had 30,000 done in maybe a year and a half instead of six years. So that’s the kind of thing with the digital transformation journey. It’s really all about the hype cycles, the arc of drama, and how do you get people to move through those cycles faster?

B. Moura: Well, thanks for that insight. Now, you mentioned industry 4.0 and I understand that you’ve been consulting with many companies on industry 5.0. Can you tell us a little bit, how has that added insight to what you’re seeing as are the biggest challenges these organisations are facing?

BK: Yeah, thanks. So, if you look at industry 4.0, it’s really about technology. It’s about the autonomous factory. It’s about automation. It’s about cyber-physical connectivity of assets. So, we’re looking at, again, take a piece of equipment to a process unit, to a tower, to a confined space, whatever that is. And so, a lot of the automation has been getting rid of the rote, repetitive, mundane, high risk, unsafe work for humans. So having a drone go up to heights rather than a person, or having the sensor be in a confined space. So, we’ve really been looking at let’s get automation to help us get people out of harm’s way. And now we’re into the mode where we’re really saying, well, let’s get automation to kind of get people out of the mundane work, because that incurs more risk, and it has safety issues.

Because again, quite honestly, when people find the work very repetitive, mundane, they lose that sense of awareness, the situational awareness and kind of the intensity of intent, what I call it. So that’s the backdrop. But what industry five is about – it’s all about kind of the ESG, right, the environmental, social governance. It’s all about how do we make a better world? How do we take that old ram matrix that talks about safety and incidents and how do we make it positive? How do we say these organisations are having a positive social impact, a positive environmental impact, a positive mental wellness impact on the workers. So, this is what industry five’s about. It’s about reducing waste, improving the human aspect, building a better machine-person-human mix.

Because what we’re in right now is we’re in this area, we want automation to be successful and we want it to eliminate all this mundane risky work because we want to “humanate” work. And so, we want people spending a third of their time being very cognitive, thinking about what they’re doing, then reflecting on what they did. They want to be very creative, using their intellect to go from mass productivity to mass personalisation. And then the third thing is we want them to be very collaborative because now we’re going from these siloed horizontal organisations to matrix. So, it requires a lot of better human connectivity while the automation’s making the technical connectivity. So that’s kind of the backdrop. So, we really want to shift where people spend their time. And this is the thing that management has not yet gotten yet, around remote hybrid work and where people spend their time. Managers today are finding they have people spending hours looking for data, hours validating data. I don’t want them doing that. I want to eliminate the waste that we have in today’s work week and feel that with more human centric flow activities where people actually are flowing in their work, not being distracted and interrupted.

So, I would say the three things just to kind of close off the question is technology is very complex, but people are very complicated. And there’s a subtle difference between those two things, and you’ve got to remember that as you try to implement both of those things. And I think that most businesses don’t really appreciate that change is hard work. So, if you’re going to say we’re going to change the status quo, that’s not a simple thing. You have to go to that arc of drama. You have to be cognisant that it’s going to come and it’s going to be something that’s very difficult. You’re going to get pushback; you’re going to have problems.

You’re going to look like things are mini failures and you got to get around those. And the last thing I’d say when I work with these companies is they’re not yet creating environments to harvest humanity. And what I mean for that is there’s still an imbalance between the implementation of automation and humanation. And I don’t think companies are quite steady on their feet yet around how do you make the workplace a place where you really create flow for people to be cognitive in their thinking, collaborative in their interactions and creative in their intentions. So those are the things I would say, Brian.

B. Moura: I like your term “humanate.” And that just kind of stood out in my mind. So, thanks for giving that explanation. I think you bring a unique perspective to this conversation. So, thank you, Brent. Next question’s going to be for Blair. Blair, how is the adoption and implementation of an industry 4.0 solution like AcceleratorKMS differ in the industry today

B. Morgan: I think to a large degree it differs in approach. We were very fortunate to come across customers like Brent. We had several of them that truly understand what their problems were, what their business problems were. Brent talked in his answers there, it’s a lot about people. And the challenge is really with people when you’re talking about knowledge. So, what we recognised is that we had to do our research and understand where our expertise was, and that was in knowledge management. So, we knew how to inform people. We knew the various mechanisms. And we also have been at it for a long time and know what doesn’t work. We know that the workforce is shifting and changing, and we needed to provide a new way of doing things and it had to be more efficient. Brent talked about errors and inefficiencies. And really, when you talk to an incident investigator, they’ll tell you that if it was blamed on equipment, then keep looking. Because it was either because someone did something they should not have done, or they failed to do something they should have done.

And certainly, that’s true of our industrial workplace now. And as we transform ourselves into a more automated workforce, we need to harvest the working processes that exist in the industry. So, for us, we really focused on the individuals. We focused on the people that’d be using the tool. And what we learnt was several key and important things. The first was management provided information on how to do the work. The second was the worker recognised that it wasn’t quite correct. It wasn’t based on how they actually do their work. And so, what workers tended to do was to adjust to the situations around them.

So, we knew we needed to build a solution that would adjust to the situations around them and capture their knowledge. And we knew at the same time, over the last several years, that there was the great resignation, and the great retirement has happened here, just back-to-back. And as we look at the profile of the individuals that work in these high risk, high intensity manufacturing facilities, they used to be… five to 10 years of experience before they ever touched the equipment. Now the average tenure is three years. So, we recognise that information needs to be available to them, it needs to be available at their fingertips. It needs to be available in context. And that’s the solution that we set out to build and implement with clients.

B. Moura: Now, could you tell me a little bit about mass personalisation or what’s needed in the long term and what about when it comes to employee engagement?

B. Morgan: So, employee engagement is so critical. When you look at the fact that I think 40 million people resigned in the United States alone in the month of September… it’s a crazy statistic. And all that knowledge of operating is leaving. Employees who are engaged in their workforce and really feel like they’re making a difference and they’re being listened to, will do a much better job. The statistics are astounding. And it’s curious to me why more companies don’t engage in real personalisation. And so, people want to know how they can improve their workplace, how they can advance their careers. And personalisation is key to that. How we’re tackling that is we’re providing really a digital footprint that is really at a very foundational level. Our solution is a component content management system at its heart. And because of that characteristic, we’re able to truly digitise the content at a very granular level.

For example, if you were performing a task in the field, you might have to open a valve. Well, that’s one element in our database. And I think that’s a unique characteristic for our solution. When we’re able to do that, when we’re able to identify who’s supposed to perform that, who did perform that, that’s the foundation for this personalisation that you get to. And when you think about our outside of work lives, we have that personalisation. We have apps, we log in, they know our profile, they know everything about us. And the workplace is just catching up now. And we’re trying to bring that to that next level. And so, employee engagement, workplace efficiencies will be kind of a foundational element of the future for human performance. And then once you take it to human performance, then you can take it to full automation. We believe that with our solution, because we’re capturing all the information, the knowhow, the native knowledge of operating a plant, that we’re building the automation scripts of the future so that automation can happen.

B. Moura: Well, the timing for AcceleratorKMS in the industry sounds exciting to me. And thanks for sharing that, Blair. My last question is for Brent. So how has your view of mass personalisation changed over time and what are you seeing as the biggest benefit?

BK: Well, just look at you and me. I mean, we’ve met recently, and we very quickly have a very nice personal relationship. We’ve connected and you know, it’s really based on kind of that thing called the trust equation, right? So, I look at you, you’re a credible guy. You’re reliable. You have a low self-interest and a high self-interest for me. So, you put all those things together, it builds a good personal experience. And so, personalisation is so important in today’s world because people are overwhelmed in the workforce. They’re distracted, they’re impatient. And what they want is they want solutions that are untethered. They can take the solution anywhere. They want to be empowered with the data and with every tool they have and piece of insight they have. And they want things on-demand and they want to be able to collaborate.

So, if you think about the idea of personalisation, life is very personal. If you look at the research today in marketing, 70, 80, 90% of people want personalised experiences. And when they don’t get them, they leave. They have choices, whether it’s Amazon or eBay or Etsy or wherever they’re at, they can find another platform that will personalise their experience better. And if you think about your life, everything in your life is personalised. I know when I go to sleep at night, I want the room dark. I don’t want the TV on. I want it really cool. I want the fan on. I want all these things that are personalised. A third of our life is spent sleeping, right? When I go to get my haircut, I’ve got the personal relationship with the person that cuts my hair. My personalised relationship with my doctor, my dentist, when I go shopping, what apps I like to use. Everything in my life is personalised to me except my work.

And I spend a third of my life at work. 100,000 hours at work in the course of your lifetime. Why aren’t we personalising the work experience? It’s personalised in every other facet of our life but one of the big one third chunks of our life. So, this is what it means to really get it personalised at work. When you do personalise it, you get people more engaged. And what happens in personalisation, it’s really about the distinctive experience. I remember when I was at Shell, I used to have a driver, a Shell driver, and that experience with him was so great because it was personal.

He’d have this bottle of water; he’d be early because he knew I liked to be early. He would do every distinctive attribute of behaviour that was personalised to me. When I had another driver, the experience was totally different. Not nearly as good of an experience. And it was because it was personalised. So, personalisation is about your relationship with your experience. And companies need to start taking the relationship that their employees have with their work experience more personal. And this is one of the things that I want to be able to do.

And I think the companies that are going to win in the future in terms of this new era of what I call the connected knowledge worker, are those companies that can create a very personalised experience with the worker, with their teams, with their work context, with their work content and all the tools and information they need to do their jobs. So that’s what I’d say about personalisation. I think it’s the next big wave, especially when you think about manufacturing. Mass productivity will be even table stakes due to automation. Where companies will differentiate is in mass personalisation of their products, their supply chains, their delivery channels, all those kinds of things. And that’s why you need the humans to be creative, collaborative, and cognitive. And again, that all requires more personalisation of the experience.

B. Moura: Well, I want to thank you both for putting this spotlight on this human performance factor. I think this is a very interesting conversation and I hope the audience will appreciate your insights. So, I want to say that we appreciate your time today and thank you for joining us.

And to our listeners, you can learn more and tune in to HxGN Radio episodes on iTunes, Spotify, and SoundCloud. Or you can visit hxgnspotlight.com for more stories from Hexagon. So, thanks for listening.