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The Panasonic Promise: Powering the Future of Work

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Magnus McDermid brings more than 25 years of sales, marketing and operational experience in the mobile computing sector serving as Senior Vice President, Mobility Group, Panasonic System Communications Company of North America. He concurrently acts as Vice-President of the Enterprise Solutions Division at Panasonic Canada Inc. Magnus regularly meets with Toughbook customers and partners to discuss enterprise, public sector and government technology trends and opportunities. Here, he looks at where Panasonic’s customers want to be going in 2018 and how Panasonic is aligning its products, solutions and services to best achieve those goals.

Each and every day, we approach our work here at Panasonic with one question in the back of our minds: Are we doing the best we can to equip our customers with solutions that allow them to get their jobs done safely and efficiently?

Delivering on that promise means deeply understanding how our customers work, how they want to work and how their industries are transforming in today’s connected world.  

This approach is in our DNA –when we launched the first Toughbook over 20 years ago, it was because we knew that the workplace was changing. Business technology was evolving beyond the office, and organizations were looking for solutions that kept their workers reliably connected wherever the job might take them. 

In the years since, it’s become clearer than ever that the transformation of the workplace continues apace. As we enter 2018, let’s take this opportunity to look at the future of work and how technology can and will make workplaces safer, make jobs more efficient and make organizations more profitable.

The Age of the Handheld for Retail, Food Service and Logistics Organizations

For years, across industries, the laptop or desktop computer was the primary computing device and the mobile phone was the primary mobile computing device. However, as laptops, tablets and mobile phones have become comparably powerful; many of our customers have started to consider more compact, flexible, yet durable mobile devices as their primary computing and communications choices.

In 2018 and beyond, we expect to see these devices become especially popular among several key industries. For retail, handheld devices have begun to gain a foothold, unchaining sales staff from traditional, static POS solutions (point of sale) and letting them be more engaged with shoppers on the floor – and enabling them to manage inventory, communicate with coworkers and ensure smooth operation between the back and front of house.

Similarly, in the food services space – especially as traditional casual dining chains look for new ways to entice a younger, more time and cost-conscious consumer – we’re seeing customers look to rugged handheld devices as a way to make tableside service a reality, blending the traditional sit-down dining atmosphere with the efficient and reliable experiences of the growing fast causal sector. With fast connections, a comfortable form factor and the ruggedness needed to stand up to drops and spills, these devices will continue to be a more common sight at tables around the globe.

And for the logistics industry, the handheld mobile barcode scanner is quickly becoming a go-to tool as it becomes more important than ever to keep track of assets on every step of their journey. Whether on the factory floor, on the road, in the air or in a warehouse, a handheld device backed by the right software and connectivity solution can ensure that goods find their way around the world more efficiently than ever.

Streamlining the Complexities of Connectivity

For today’s organizations, connectivity is no longer a luxury, it is an absolute necessity. The challenge now is identifying the connectivity solutions that best serve your organization, your workers and your customers.

While connectivity is more needed than ever, it’s also more complicated. With organizations managing global workforces, ensuring connectivity has become an ungainly puzzle with some carriers split across geographies, expensive roaming charges cutting into the bottom line and technology standards changing at a rapid pace. For many organizations, managing data connectivity can be more than a full time job.

In order to keep up with this complicated, quickly changing world, more organizations will be looking for a single, overarching connectivity solution that makes sense for their entire workforce and evolves alongside their industries and workers.

In 2017, we launched P.180, a first-of-its-kind service that offers organizations large and small a one-stop solution for global mobile connectivity – ensuring that they can stay competitive in this quickly changing landscape. As the need for global connectivity presses upon organizations of all sizes, technology decision makers are looking for the simplest, most streamlined solutions available – and with P.180, we’re directly addressing that demand, delivering high speed, reliable wireless connectivity around the globe under a single service, with the ability to tailor it to the exact needs of any organization in the most efficient way possible.  We are excited to make additional investments into this service in the coming year and to work with our customers to ensure that they’re able to achieve their connectivity goals.

A New Era of First Responder Connectivity

Beginning in 2018, we’re excited to help our public safety customer’s transition to FirstNet and other Band 14 services as they come online. Police, fire and EMS workers were among our earliest customers and we’ve stood alongside them as technology has changed how they work in the communities they serve. With the launch of dedicated, high speed connectivity solutions designed specifically around their needs, public safety work will be primed to undergo another great transformation – and it will be communities who reap the rewards.

For instance, widespread, shared connectivity between fire and rescue personnel and local hospitals will enable improved healthcare outcomes as triage decision-making is able to begin in the field, not in the emergency room. This means those who need care the most receive it more quickly than before and the burden of ER overcrowding is lessened due to smarter and more informed decision making.

Similarly, first responders will have faster, more accurate information about what they are likely to find at the scene of an emergency – especially in cases where congestion from civilian communications traffic might have previously been a challenge. These connectivity solutions promise not only a better way for these professionals to work – but safer outcomes for them and those who they serve.

Panasonic is meeting with first responder customers to understand their needs, concerns and questions around this important connectivity transition and aligning with key industry leaders to deliver solutions that will enable the migration to the FirstNet Band 14 network.  We’re excited to share more information about our product roadmap, informed by these conversations in the coming months.

The Growth of the Intelligent Supply Chain

Driven by increased automation, global connectivity and the proliferation of IoT devices and sensors, logistics and supply chain customers will need to rely on technology more than ever to stay competitive. These organizations will face huge pressure to ensure that the assets and resources they have invested in are operating properly, that they are protected and that their workers are achieving maximum efficiency through connected solutions.

In 2018, cultivating intelligence is going to be the primary driver of supply chain decision making.  We expect to see customers looking for solutions that allow them to tie together previously independent technology platforms to gain unparalleled insights into their operations, supply chain and workforce. Artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions will become common components of these networks, making sense of complex systems and helping workers find ways to work smarter, each step of the way and catching potential problems before they impact the bottom line.

As our suite of connectivity solutions grows, we’re excited to continue working alongside our customers to identify new solutions that take advantage of the connections, data and real-time visibility that mobile solutions and services enable. From using handheld devices for asset and delivery tracking to looking to take advantage of smart buildings and connected factories and other IoT infrastructure, the promise of the connected world is a safer, more efficient and more intelligence-driven workplace.

Investment in Solutions Packages:

When organizations are looking to make technology investments, we’ve seen a growing trend towards solutions packages that encompass more than just a specific device or software license. Today’s customers want more than a vendor, they want a solutions partner.

Due to a trend towards limited in-house IT resources, today’s organizations are looking for concierge-level service to outfit their employees with the right, complete solution for the job at hand. This is why we have invested in a robust Pro-Services team that serve as a partner to our customers, ensuring that their workforces are outfitted with the best solution for their needs and that, when technology does fail, downtime is kept to an absolute minimum. At Panasonic, we’re proud of our incredible investments in repair and replacement services that warranty that if a device does need service, it’s as quick and painless for our customers as possible.

Beyond that, we’ve assembled an unparalleled ecosystem of partners, from B2B software leaders to mobile device management experts to manufacturers of purpose-built accessories that enhance our market defining devices. This means that not only do we know how our customers want to work, we can truly be a one-stop-shop for their technology and connectivity needs.

The way people work has evolved alongside the rapid and constant pace of innovation, and Panasonic has evolved to meet it.  Our customers are looking for the same thing they were when we began the Toughbook journey –the peace of mind that the investments they are making are protected, their workforce can remain connected and they will stay profitable while tackling even the most difficult and unexpected challenges.