Operational technology is on the verge of something big as customers clamour for information

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Operational technology is on the verge of something big as customers clamour for information
Emad Afghani (TeamViewer) and Danny Gambaro (The AVR Lab)

Operational technologies from companies like TeamViewer and Realwear are on the verge of something big in Australia, according to one specialist who is seeing a surge in customer enquiries.

Melbourne-based operational technology specialist The AVR Lab services clients across many industries including manufacturing, distribution, mining and healthcare. The company’s director Danny Gambaro told CRN that the vast majority of business the company was getting at the moment came from inbound enquiries.

He said that these enquires were origination from frontline workers across many different industries and that many were interested in the promise of the technology but uncertain of what it could actually do for their business.

“If we look at our website, the time spent is in excess of three minutes and we have a less than one percent bounce rate. That’s because people are learning. I would guess that the Realwear and TeamViewer websites are experiencing the same sort of traffic.

“People are still trying to understand exactly what they're looking for, so they type in smart glasses, they type in AR eyeglasses and they type in all these variations and then when they get to us they need somebody to help them [with a specific use case].

“So the immediate thing for us is how do we educate them to understand what the hardware does and what software they're going to need and if they're on a mine site for example, what compatible intranet software they need to connect.”

Gambaro said there was also a big gulf between what the technology can actually do and what customers assume it can do.

“They’ll say ‘well, we just want to use [Microsoft] Teams’ but Teams doesn't allow you to do anything, he said.

“We explain that Teams is just a virtual conferencing solution, so then we take them through what TeamViewer can provide such as mode assistance, adaptation, document sharing and live reporting. Then we take them into the workflows.

“The reason why we go secondary with workflow is because there's a bridge that we have to get across and if we go too hard, too early, their mind just blows up. Workflow integration is amazing, but if you go with that, the gate comes up because they don't get where they need to get to.

“I think the greatest point of difference that TeamViewer has and the platform is the reporting and that's the undervalued position in the market at the moment.

Gambaro said that this was because the customer could better demonstrate return on investment through reporting.

“There are 100 platforms that can deliver a similar solution but they don’t have the backend. The user interface (UI) straightaway is pretty, so it makes me want to get around.”

Services

The untapped potential in the solution is managed services, according to Gambaro. He said that this was an area where services specialists could take advantage as it was not something companies like The AVR Lab were focused on at present.

“Our job is more to train trainers because we can get in there and go manage it, but it's not our role. Our role is to ensure that the expert, the senior engineer who provides expert services, they're the front of the other ones inviting the frontline worker that expertise.

This means that in what The AVR Lab does, there needs to be a certain level of capability within the customer organisation to get the most out of the solution.

Going forward he said there was definitely an opportunity for services partners to manage environments for customers but it depended on the industry.

From a vendor perspective, TeamViewer ANZ boss Emad Afghani said there were a number of use cases where the combined technologies of hardware and software were solving customer problems, particularly around training.

“In Australia now we're experiencing a shortage of resources, then you have someone who's got experience in the office and you want to share their experience,” he said.

“One of the water utilities in Australia, they have a guy who's 70 years old who wants to retire, wanted to retire five years ago, we introduced him [to the technology] and we were not sure if he was going to like that, but when he started using it he said ‘I love this, I can share my knowledge with the other 20 inexperienced guys on site.

He reiterated what Gambaro said about the challenge of educating the customer.

“Last year, we spent most of our time educating people about augmented reality,” he said

He said he and his partners would go into client meetings, explain the solution and get positive feedback from customers once they could see the potential, but the conversations were progressing further once the use cases were made more specific.

Gambaro added that when he talks to clients now he shows “the sexy” which is the remote use software, but that was not the real value proposition.

“For me, the value proposition is the reporting because, if you’re the frontline worker, you go out on-site and you do for a week you do 25 service inspections, you follow your manual on your Android tablet, but then you go home after your eight-hour shift and you do the reports. This solution eliminates that.

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