In our almost 60 years of business, our team here at Madison Company and our many distributors across the United States have always been focused on customer collaboration, especially because many of our customer problems require a customized solution. During these years, we have developed many tools to support ‘the customer experience,’ even before that term was coined by professional marketers. Tools such as a website designed to help customers find information or purchase products, easy accessibility to our outstanding customer service team via phone, fax or email, or in-person visits from our outside sales folks have helped guide customers along their journey towards a viable sensing solution that saves time, money and aggravation.
Now we are witnessing the introduction of a new style of communication – the collaboration bot! Imagine that while chatting with a co-worker about an important project you need to know who within your company speaks French; the WhoBot can answer that question within your chat stream! Need to schedule a meeting with four co-workers? Assign that task to Zoom.ai or Meekan and save everyone time. If you just received confirmation that you are going to that conference or expo next month, use the Hipmunk or Kayak bots to check flights and reserve hotels for you, and then check with Mica – your hipster advisor bot – on what to do in this new city. This is just a small sampling of the 600 bots that are listed today with the Microsoft Bot Framework directory.
Of course, the most well-known bot is the ‘chat’ bot – that little screen that drops down and allows you to chat in real-time with a product expert. What are your thoughts on this type of collaboration? Do you think we at Madison should introduce a ‘chat’ bot on our website? Do you use collaboration bots or other types of apps to boost productivity? Please comment below and let us know what empowers your workplace!
Last week our friends over at Material Handling & Logistics News released a very handy guide aptly named "How to Survive Supply Chain Complexity" that should be on everyone's reading list. Having been a critical supplier to many companies during our 58 years in business, we would encourage special attention to the "supplier collaboration" section. Our support team team is constantly in search of ways to have greater transparency with our OEM and manufacturing clients, to increase the collaboration and improve the solutions Madison provides from one year to the next. Not only does the article describe four primary sources of Supply Chain complexity, they also describe seven solutions for managing Supply Chain complexity. Here are a few key takeaways:
1. Companies feel that good partners helped them address complexity by enhancing product and process innovation.
2. Transparent collaboration between a company and its partners opens up opportunities to reduce the processing exceptions that introduce complexity.
3. If suppliers better understood the role their output created, they’d be better positioned both to help deliver the best possible product and to do it in a manner that smoothed the flow and reduced complexity along the way.
Be sure to take a few minutes this week to learn these important survival tactics for our modern times!
Exactly one week ago we witnessed the kick-off to the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that has unveiled to the world, for over 50 years, the latest in technology, home electronics and new gadgets. This year the devices getting the greatest media attention seemed to be virtual and augmented reality glasses and goggles, as well as fold-out, multi-screen laptops. One common theme, frequently repeated for business and industial device use, was "virtual collaboration". According to VR and AR device manufacturers, our near future will evolve beyond basic emails, instant messaging, confernece calls and Skype sessions. Very soon you'll be able to don a head mounted display, connect with two or more other experts in any global location, and have them see what you see to virtually collaborate, brain storm and make sound business decisions. While all of this, on the surface, sounds like a brave new world, this seems like an ideal time to revisit this powerful year-old article from Harvard Business Review titled Collaboration Overload. Spending just a few minutes with this study you'll soon discover that only 3-5% of employees truly add value to collaborations and, frequently, what begins as a virtuous cycle and quickly turns to a vicious one. Those who are frequently the most helpful during collaborations become bottlenecks in the future as organizations wait for their valued opinions to be expressed before any progress is made. So as we see more powerful "virtual collaboration" tools in our future, we hope this important study helps you maintain a results reality and doesn't contribute to the burnout, disengagement and turnover that is becoming routine within a seemingly endless stream of meetings, debates, discussions and decisions.