For companies investing in B2B robotics technology, it's all about how automation and/or augmentation impacts business outcomes from revenue to retention to sustainability, and more. The time for putting budget toward trying "something cool" is over. The pandemic has changed the meaning of innovation--and that's a good thing.
For businesses looking to introduce or scale telepresence robots, there are a few things to look into, and some questions to pose, that can help justify investment and set you up for success.
Integrate to innovate.
Businesses are asking technology questions that previously sat on a shelf. How companies have changed physically, operationally, and culturally within the last four months forces conversations about both short term solutions and long term shifts. The interesting thing about telepresence robots, is that they roll through both camps.
Empowering remote employees, consultants, customers, and clients
Saving time and money on travel, manual processes, and in-person accommodations
Enhancing user experience to drive decisions that impact your bottom line
So how do you know if telepresence robots make sense for you? Your business has its own table to set, so taking a closer look at your human resources, physical setting, and operations will (or won’t) help unearth opportunities and use cases for telepresence.
Your People: Do your remote people have what they need to be successful?
Connection & Collaboration
Empowering remote workers is at the core of Ava Telepresence Robots--and it’s equal parts human connection and productive collaboration. In general, remote employees prefer to work remotely because they are more productive in a non-office setting and it suits their lifestyle--not because they don’t like other people. Even the most independent workers reach points where they prefer or require teamwork to move a project, initiative, or idea forward.
Telepresence robots work to reinforce a stronger presence for remote workers. And this isn't just to complete tasks, it's also to reinforce connection and recognition. More is left to perception for remote employees: Do you feel like you're adding enough value? Do you think your colleagues perceive you to be an important part of the team? This is especially important for employees who are not accustomed to remote work.
For collaboration, normal video conferencing can sometimes get the job done just fine, but in many instances, it leaves something to be desired. In fact, there are a lot of articles popping up about ‘how to avoid video conferencing burnout.’ Teleporting in on a robot is definitely something different. From whiteboard creative brainstorms to quarterly town halls to finalizing a pitch--there are many group sessions remote workers can’t fully experience like their in-office colleagues. This is where telepresence robots roll in, allowing remote workers to teleport and truly share in the space and collaboration process as if they were physically there.
Even before our current reality, the epidemic of loneliness within long term healthcare facilities and communities was well-established. And with continual resource shortages, these environments were already starved for solutions to better connect residents with loved ones, as well as care providers who cannot be physically there.
Currently, Ava is deployed in several long term care communities throughout the US to connect residents to loved ones. Initially as a response to Covid restrictions, the long term impact of enabling safe, user-friendly, and meaningful human connection became clear. Ava autonomously rolls into resident rooms and spaces, without any manual device requirements from residents or staff. And if you are looking to place a loved one in a long term care community, Ava facilitates a more interactive tour so you can better observe day-to-day activities.
Bottom Line: If better connecting and empowering your people, regardless of their location, makes your business more successful, telepresence robots are a good fit.
Your Places: Does your workspace/physical environment dictate how people use or choose your brand?
Steelcase, is a great example for how telepresence robots enable sales interactions. Their physical spaces, which can be described as “office museums,” sell their execution of design, functionality, and tangibly deliver on their value proposition. Prior to covid, Steelcase flew potential customers in for on-site visits. But with everyone non-essential grounded, they’ve leveraged Ava telepresence robots to welcome prospects, not merely to their space, but into their space.
The promise of practical teleportation is experiential and human, but it also works to fuel the sales engine--reducing the cost of conversion. With the travel and accommodations cost savings tied to virtual visits, interest in this approach is mounting across several industries. Telepresence robots quickly pay for themselves when average travel costs are taken into consideration.
Hospitality & Services
Hospitality, an industry that relies on their structures and spaces for revenue and profitability, is innately positioned to benefit from telepresence robots to boost virtual visits and tours (this capability also adds value to the previously mentioned long term care facilities). Telepresence robots enable more personal, real-feel tours, as well as safe and approachable guides and welcome staff for on-site visits.
Restaurants and other service establishments are looking to reduce “front of house” or first touch exposure to build patron/customer confidence. Another budding use case for telepresence robots that doesn’t replace human staff--it just gives them a new, safer vehicle to perform their job.
Bottom Line: If your physical space is crucial to driving business results, having an efficient, safe, and meaningful way for people to experience it, is a worthwhile investment.
Your Processes: Would your products, systems, or facilities benefit from remote monitoring and management?
Telepresence robots working alongside a variety of new tech implementations to help test, monitor and ensure early success is an emerging use case. Recently, we teamed up with MIT CSAIL to build a disinfecting robot to sanitize the Greater Boston Food Bank warehouse. To adhere to social distancing limitations, team members teleported in on Ava to follow the new UVC robot to make sure it was performing its duties appropriately.
Disinfection robots sit in an entirely different category of autonomous robot, but an interesting learning our teams took away is that telepresence can play a part in getting other tech, not just other robots, up and running. Now that in-person process and technology management stands to evolve to be more hands-free, telepresence robots can offer another way to promote efficiency while keeping people safe.
So not only can telepresence robots connect people to people and people to places--it can also give people easier access to monitor processes, especially if they are new. Even, and especially, for businesses hesitant to invest or prove out innovations, telepresence can provide the peace-of-mind of having an on-demand pair of eyes.
Bottom Line: If you want or need a way to monitor processes or new implementations at any time, without being physically there, telepresence robots can help.
Getting Started with Telepresence Robots
Making changes to, or solving problems around one, or all three, of the aforementioned factors justify investment in telepresence. Once you’ve determined telepresence robots make sense for your business, it’s time to define your use case(s).
The good news is that robotics experts are equipped to help you work through your use cases and requirements (there are no stupid questions). Implementing telepresence robots is a functional process, but it also is a cultural decision for your business. Helping you work through both of those perspectives is a large part of what we do, and we enjoy it.