Boers makes high-precision metal parts for its customers. It doesn’t own the products or designs — its profit comes from the efficiency of manufacturing processes, not from selling products — and that has made improving employee productivity important to its success.
“We can’t push any more productivity out of the current process, so we needed to invest more and more in automation and smarter thinking,” said Jos Greeve, the ICT manager at Boers.
ERP systems are used to track inventory, finances, prices, employees — all the core activities of a business. But ERP vendors are encouraging their users to do more, such as adopt augmented reality and apply AI-type technologies to sensor data collected off machines and robots.
ERP vendor Epicor highlighted Boers’ use of the drone at its recent user conference. It’s nudging users to try these technologies for improving employee productivity. But the vast majority of firms are not adopting them.
A finance application with embedded AI is a tool that “would be great at Starbucks headquarters to make them more productive, but it doesn’t help the barista at all,” said Michael Fauscette, chief research officer at G2 Crowd.
Firms may be using AI-type technologies, robotics and other tech for improving employee productivity, but their use is “still fairly contained,” Fauscette said.
Businesses are not investing in new IT
The rate of productivity growth, a measure of output per worker, in the U.S. has nearly flatlined. It’s at its lowest point in 40 years — despite the drumbeat of innovations cited by tech makers. This weakness is reflected as well in IT department spending, according to Computer Economics.