COVID-19 has impacted our lives in ways many of us could not have imagined. From how we interact with our friends and family to working from home and so much more. For me personally, juggling the complexity of remote work, the immense disruption, and ever-changing priorities and precautions have been a daily learning and growth experience. Yet I know many are facing far greater challenges.
Over the past two weeks, we have had the opportunity to speak to automotive industry leaders from around the globe about the staggering impact of COVID-19 and the responses they are taking. Faced with almost a complete halt of all production, mandated plant closures, retooling of plants to support growing medical equipment needs, and major health and safety concerns for their employees, many automakers are navigating unprecedented times.
While all automakers have faced critical disruptions to supply and demand in their businesses, there are many examples of automakers stepping up during these trying times by reconfiguring their production, supply chains, and services to deliver critical medical supplies. Microsoft applauds their resiliency and innovation and will continue to support our customers in these incredibly important efforts.
Here are just a few of the amazing stories across the industry where leadership is stepping up to address this global crisis:
- GM is partnering with Ventec Life Systems to help increase the production of ventilators. The machines are vital for patients with severe cases of COVID-19 infection.
- A consortium of major UK industrial, technology, and engineering including automotive, has come together to produce medical ventilators for the National Health Service (NHS). The supply chain of the ventilators is being supported by Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, and Microsoft worked with Accenture to launch it in just three weeks.
- Ford, GE, and 3M announced that they are combining resources and expertise to respond to a dire need for ventilators, respirators, and medical protective equipment.
- Due to a lack of mainstream resources, Ford is now using existing stock car parts and other non-traditional components as COVID-19 spreads across the US.
- Toyota has taken a global approach to help with COVID-19 recovery including production and supply of medical equipment, patient transportation, and support of drug development and infection control research.
From an industry analyst perspective, experts have been providing their own guidance for adjusting to our current circumstances.
- McKinsey has come up with a five-stage approach to success in the long run: Resolve, resilience, return, reimagination, and reform.
- Gartner says automotive OEMs and car dealers must improve their online sales models to mitigate a Coronavirus-related sales slump.
COVID-19 response: Resources, solutions, and guidelines for your business
In addition to these analyst recommendations, we are proud to collaborate with our partners around key resources and solutions that can help support the tremendous work of our customers.
Supporting remote assistance for frontline employees and customers
To remotely assist those workers who are still needed on the manufacturing frontline and supporting customers operations, Microsoft and partners such as BluePrism, PTC, Realwear, and Tulip have announced programs for customers engaged in COVID-19 related activities:
- Dynamics 365 Customer Service, enables contact center employees to provide consistent, personalized support while working remotely. Customers are taking advantage of the ability to gain insights into case volume topics, ensuring agents are properly distributed across channels, and quickly deploying chatbots that are trained to respond to the highest volume of inquiries.
- Even as challenging as it is to maintain social distancing and still be productive, we are seeing innovation help address this necessity. Here are some examples:
- By leveraging mixed reality tools such as Microsoft HoloLens, companies can expand their ability to enable workers to be remote, and yet still be right next to someone that needs assistance. I encourage you to watch the video of PTC delivering HoloLens capabilities combined with their solutions.
- With Dynamics 365 Guides, operators get step-by-step instructions as they progress through their tasks and related content and documents.
- With Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, the operator shares a session with a remote expert to collaborate on solving technical issues.
- Dynamics 365 Remote Assist allows field technicians and engineers can collaborate with colleagues and experts from different locations, reducing travel and resolving some of the immediate obstacles facing us all. In fact, Dynamics 365 Customer Service or Dynamics 365 Remote Assist may be available free of charge for up to 6 months if you are implementing a solution in response to COVID-19, either on a Microsoft-provided template or custom implementation.
- To increase the predictability and reliability of the work being performed by manufacturers the Blue Prism COVID-19 Response Program is taking applications for their robotic process automation (RPA) resources to help maintain critical business continuity.
- To provide technical support to your manufacturing and service employees, PTC is making their Vuforia Chalk augmented reality (AR) remote support and collaboration technology freely available to their customers and partners to use through June.
- RealWear has contributed its headset technology to the medical effort in China and just announced its integration with Microsoft Teams, enabling industrial workers to use both hands for complex work procedures while remotely collaborating with subject matter experts wherever they are in the world.
- Tulip is offering support and free use of their manufacturing app platform to any manufacturer or open-source manufacturing effort engaged in fighting COVID-19.
These are just some of the ways that Microsoft and our partners are working to support the health and safety of our communities as well as help you to ensure business continuity and mitigate risk.
Microsoft is proud of all these amazing leaders and their innovative work and we want you to know that we are here to support you as a partner during these challenging times. Below are some resources that we have put together to help you as you navigate the changes that are affecting not only yourselves but everyone across the industry. You are not alone, and we are here to help.
Supporting the health and well-being of your employees and access to the most current data, situation reports, and analysis:
- Leverage this Crisis Communication App with steps to quickly build and implement an app for your organization to coordinate information-sharing and collaboration in response to evolving conditions.
- Use the Bing Coronavirus Tracker to monitor and share the latest fact-based information, statistics, and news on the current state of the virus.
Enabling remote collaboration and productivity for the C-suite and all employees:
- Your creative and production teams are no doubt geographically dispersed, and those resources are likely now even more separated due to work-from-home requirements. Microsoft Teams allows your employees to chat, meet, call, and collaborate all in one place, across multiple devices, no matter where they are. If you’re a current Office 365 subscriber, you already have access to Microsoft Teams—and now is a great time to deploy to support your transition to remote work.
- To support remote scenarios for content creation, Microsoft enables key workflows through our partners: Teradici, AVID, and Adobe have all shared resources and best practices to enable remote creativity, collaboration, and content production and post-production. We will have more updates to share in the coming weeks.
- We have compiled expertise and guidance to optimize remote work environments from our first-hand experience over the last few weeks.
- We are also sharing the comprehensive work-from-home guide we created for our employees, which you can tailor for your own organization.
- Connect your teams with our Enabling Remote Work community to stay up-to-date on best practice sharing for all employees.
- Microsoft Stores are ready to train you and your employees. Leverage our global Microsoft Store teams to virtually deliver tailored training across key Microsoft workloads. Reach out to your AE or Customer Success Manager to schedule a training.
- Use Microsoft 365 Live Events to create live and on-demand events that deliver compelling communications to employees, customers, and partners.
Planning the comeback and shaping the new normal:
- Dynamics 365 Commerce enables consumer-facing businesses to continue to transact in an environment where physical retail stores are no longer able to facilitate trade.
- Unlock powerful insights with limitless analytics to stay agile and remain relevant across all audiences with Dynamics 365 Customer Insights and Azure Synapse.
- Take control of your critical warehousing, unpredictable demand, backlogged goods, and supply chain by:
- Streamlining operations with Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management and rapidly build and deploy supply chain solutions with Azure IoT Central.
- Working with our partner Blue Yonder, whose solutions and data science capabilities provide a critical solution for companies that require real-time supply chain visibility in order to plan for and instantly adapt to changing circumstances.
As we continue to work on additional solutions, services, and support for automotive organizations, read the latest information, updates, and resources from Microsoft: Responding to COVID-19 together.
Also, for an update directly from Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, read the recent post on LinkedIn with his current perspective and more on how Microsoft is working to support employees, customers, partners, and communities.