Allison Lawton, Interim CEO, Rotorua Chamber of Commerce 

4th April, 2017

AR glasses provide a peek into the future

The difference in time spent on the job equated to a staggering 34 per cent increase in productivity for the employee using the AR smart glasses.

If you are anything like me, I did not have a clue about augmented reality; and then trying to understand how this technology can be applied to business - well let's just say I was perplexed.

However, what I was noticing was the increasing global dialogue about augmented reality. We all have some understanding how it relates to the entertainment/movie/gaming applications, but translating that to business performance and how it can improve work productivity was a mystery to me.

The good news is with the joys of Google research I have found a lot of information about augmented reality. I will share this in the hope, as business owners, we start to think about how this technology can be relevant to our businesses. And if it is, how can it be applied?

 

In my research, I found a very useful article which is a case study in a manufacturing plant. They compared two identical tasks performed by the same employee and with the magic of video they captured how the employee completed both tasks.

In example one, the employee undertook the task by referring to their paper-based manual, which is common practice in business today.

In example two, the same employee undertook the same task, but in this example, they were wearing specialised glasses; known as augmented-reality (AR) smart glasses. Rather than referring to the paper-based manual, they were guided by line-of-sight instructions overlaid on the job by an AR headset inset in the glasses to complete the task. They could also activate voice commands to search or reply as required.

The results were astounding. The employee using the AR smart glasses completed the identical task in 34.22 minutes; compared to the employee using the paper based manual who completed the task in 51.37 minutes.  The difference in time spent on the job equated to a staggering 34 per cent increase in productivity for the employee using the AR smart glasses. 

This example demonstrates clearly the benefits of how augmented reality can improve productivity. However, the costs would be prohibitive for most businesses at this time but as we have seen with the rapid development and expansion of technology, over time costs will reduce and make this technology more readily available.

What is important to take from this is we need to develop a culture of continuous learning and to embrace technology to ensure our businesses, and ultimately our city, reap the rewards of continued economic growth.

 

13th March 2017

Why you should enter the business awards

The Westpac Rotorua Business Excellence Awards winners are to be announced on October 7.

Regardless of where your business is in the lifecycle, this process allows you to reflect and to work on - rather than working in - your business which is incredibly important. 

The preparation and planning for the upcoming Westpac Rotorua Business Excellence Awards 2017 are underway - and what an exciting event it is. The big night will be Saturday, 7th October at the Energy Events Centre and we look forward to hosting another fantastic event, here in our wonderful city. 

As a business owner, you might be thinking why would I enter these awards?  I want to share our story, of entering two categories and winning one, and I hope it will give you the impetus you need to get motivated to put forward your entry.

However, before I start I must acknowledge we entered the New Zealand Tourism Awards but none-the-less the rationale and processes are similar.  

Our journey:  I decided to enter the awards, reluctantly, as our business was in a turnaround situation, and finally after a lot of hard work, all the indicators were reporting a positive trajectory.  At this time, I felt we needed to celebrate this success and the best opportunity to do this was by entering the NZ Tourism Awards. I must confess, I had no expectations of becoming a finalist but it was important to have an external observer look at our business to confirm we were going in a positive direction because in a turnaround situation, you lose confidence the business is performing well - even though all the indicators are telling you it is.

 After much angst, we decided to enter the awards and the main reason was not for our customers, not for our external stakeholders, and not even for our suppliers – it was for our staff. Our staff had worked incredibly hard, they had endured a lot of challenges and changes which ultimately led to creating many opportunities and positive changes both individually and collectively for the business. 

But we still needed to know, from an external perspective, that everything we had done, and were doing, was right and no amount of looking at KPI’s was going to shift this mindset.  We needed an external endorsement.
Our entry, and ultimate success, at the NZ Tourism Awards provided us with the endorsement, but more importantly it was the catalyst needed to show the staff how much they had achieved, how much they were appreciated, and simply thanking them for trusting us.  

And of course, we celebrated in style with our staff, and had pre-planned this celebration in advance of the awards night – because regardless of the outcome we were going to celebrate. 

Finally, yes, it is a lot of work, yes, it will take time that you haven’t got, and yes, it will be challenging and difficult but the rewards are beyond anything you could imagine even if you do not get beyond the preliminary judging. 

Regardless of where your business is in the lifecycle, this process allows you to reflect and to work on - rather than working in - your business which is incredibly important.