New business solutions for the “new normal”
As the world seemingly stands still, lockdown, uncertainty, anxiety and social distancing have been- and still are dominating our lives. Life is about change, but this change brings major challenges that we are required to meet both as individuals and as businesses. Different business sectors are now being asked to adapt to this “new normal” at record speed. However this is easier said than done.
Panasonic Business undertook the commitment to support different businesses with this change by providing applicable solutions and simultaneously joining initiatives, such as the “IP Open Access Declaration Against COVID-19” — pledging not to seek compensation nor assert intellectual property rights on activities with the sole purpose of stopping the spread of COVID-19.
And as a matter of course, Panasonic’s UK facility in Cardiff utilised its production lines to produce prototype breathing devices to assist hospital patients, as well as its 3D printers to produce Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).These actions were accompanied by donations of all kinds of products, as well as free management software (e.g. for PC and Mobile softphone) to support remote workers at home.
Despite of all this, it is key to enable business to help themselves to achieve sustainable success; this help is directly related to the utilisation of the right solutions to address the new normal and the needs of each business. Naturally, all the different needs and demands of businesses are as multifaceted as the companies themselves. But it is about the belief and willingness to support in different surroundings, with different solutions — step by step, sector by sector. By way of example, let’s have a look at the retail, education and logistics sectors and the challenges being addressed therein.
Prior to the lockdown, priorities were based around innovating instore. This focus has now shifted to creating safe and secure environments to draw customers back and meet government COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. Together with partners and customers, Panasonic Business has been working hard to provide solutions that address the “new normal” in retail. These solutions are designed to enhance store operations and customer experience while supporting the health and safety of customers and staff. They include: optimizing customer flow into, through and out of the store (e.g. automated entrance management), technology solutions for social distancing and occupancy levels in high traffic areas, provision of data analytics including heat mapping, head counting, demographic information and dwell time analysis, digital displays/projection solutions, electronic shelf labels with advisory messages, out-of-stock detection solutions and much more, to enable a safe and even enhanced customer experience.
Educating in the “new normal” is a crucial topic in any public or private institution whether school or university. Capturing and sharing lectures online is not a future “nice to have” capability anymore, but rather one of utmost importance, enabling institutions to continue to educate. Panasonic Business provides solutions such as Lecture Capture over IP technology and related software solutions (e.g. in collaboration with Panopto in Germany) applicable with other devices such as 4K projectors or interactive displays, for live-streaming or download. The new learning environments benefit from remotely operated PTZ cameras and auto tracking technology. Simplified access and integration towards such technologies is assured through e.g. free trials (90 days for Auto Tracking Software) and support on-site.
For those students returning to the classrooms, projectors with wide viewing angles ensure optimal visibility while enabling them to maintain social distancing in staggered seating arrangements. And thanks to the remote cameras, virtual and non-virtual gatherings and events are put into practice. It is about allowing students to get the most out of the learning experience — despite the ongoing pandemic around them.
Within the “new normal” logistics operators have been working hard to ensure that supplies and goods reach stores and customers. Simultaneously, they are faced with challenges related to restructuring and rethinking their processes; innovative, agile and digitalized supply chains are key in this regard. Panasonic Business provides solutions in stock control, transport and picking management, material flow control and yard/warehouse management — which take into account the reality of the pandemic. Solutions such as “Visual Sort Assist” (a combination of detection and projection technology) not only improve sorting but also enable less staff involvement and more social distancing. With regards to the higher standards of sanitation required of staff, attention has been drawn to strict hygiene measures and concepts — an area that Panasonic Business is consulting on based on its own extensive experience in the TOUGHBOOK service and logistics centres.
When it comes to product design and capabilities, IoT, big data, robotics and AI are key topics for the “new normal”. As to the topic of AI in e.g. the sector of sensor solutions, Panasonic has introduced a dedicated “frontline sensing solutions” business focussing on providing solutions for the “new normal”. An example: Thanks to AI and deep-learning, Panasonic security cameras do not only enable intrusion detection (human, vehicle or bicycle) and pixilation in line with GDPR, but also provide the option to involve tailored external applications according to each business’ needs. Panasonic’s facial recognition technology comes with the highest level of accuracy enabling the identification of a human face — even when wearing a mask.
While considering the data protection regulations of each country, the combination of different technology solutions such as movement tracking, entry management, non-contact devices, temperature inspection and facial recognition enables businesses to work even more efficiently, while simultaneously respecting health and security guidelines in the pandemic.
However, it is not only about providing the applicable solutions but also addressing the reality of many businesses — such as that previously purchased equipment in many cases now sits idle as is the case with the event and entertainment sector. Equipment that has previously been used to communicate, educate or entertain audiences is currently not being utilised. To support clients in these situations, Panasonic Business has extended the warranty period of products such as displays and projectors, broadcast camera equipment, communication and document scanners and security solutions — to soften the business impact of the pandemic. This goes hand-in-hand with initiatives including discounted maintenance for those products, as well as offering remote training to the affected customer technicians - to help them use the downtime wisely and ensure top performance post COVID-19.
In this “new normal” many businesses are facing a path forward full of stumbling blocks — trying to adapt their operations to serve their customers best. These stumbling blocks are challenging. But let’s try to see the positive in the negative. Let’s simply use these stumbling blocks to build something new, something even better — with “new solutions” for the “new normal” — for the future of your business.
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