A while back I wrote about The Perfect Field Worker Day in this blog. In that post I connected several technologies to create the perfect day for maintenance worker. One of technologies highlighted there was Microsoft Dynamics 365 Guides, which can be used to train field workers on new tasks – and the tech can help them out in tasks they don’t very often. I was able to try out Guides myself briefly and of course I now want to write more about this experience and what Guides can help organizations to achieve.
- What is Dynamics 365 Guides
- Low code
- Why Microsoft Dynamics 365 Guides?
- Customer Stories
- Connected article
What is Dynamics 365 Guides
Microsoft is giving a very good description what Guides is in their Documentation pages.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Guides is a mixed-reality application for Microsoft HoloLens that helps operators learn during the flow of work by providing holographic instructions when and where they’re needed. These instruction cards are visually tethered to the place where the work is done, and can include images, videos, and 3D holographic models. Operators see exactly what needs to be done, and where, so they can get the job done faster, with fewer errors and greater skill retention.
Let’s highlight a few key parts from there
- Mixed Reality and HoloLens: When you are working on a task you can see these instructions embedded on top of the real world. You are “seeing through” cards and can see them overlayed on top of physical devices.
- You get instructions where you are needing them, during the time you need.
- Instead of remembering every step of the task or carrying instructions with you, the learning happens when you are doing the task. You can use these guides several times, until you have learned the task.
With good and clear instructions, your field workers have less errors and also require less training in advance as they can use Guides to help them out during early days. This is a very effective learning experience.
When I was able to test Guides myself it was a very good, and you could say a classic, HoloLens experience. Being able to see the model and instructions at the same time when going through the process is very effective! Even if you don’t have the physical machine/device there (but a model) you can see how good learning experience Guides provides. Mixed Reality shows it’s power very well in this application. Especially when thinking the process where you get automatically triggered alerts, warnings and information based on what you are doing (perhaps a specific are of electric car’s motor) can reduce employee and damage risks.
Guides have a lot of potential to be part of your business processes since you can bring in your 3D models to it, use automation workflows with Power Platform, get insights & utilize Power BI for reporting and integrate it with Dynamics 365 Field Service and Supply Chain Management. Just to name a few.
With upcoming Microsoft Mesh – I wouldn’t be surprised to see more collaboration brought to Guides with that.
When setting Guides up, it is good to remember that you don’t need a pro developer for this. Instead the configuration of guides is done by subject matter experts – the people in business.
When you are thinking about Guides it is good to think to which tasks these guides are created. As with all instructions – all good ones take time to create, even when the creation process is easy. The best POCs are going to be those processes that are done by new people often and require usually people to help them out. Or where errors are costing a large number of money. Some tasks may be complex, risky, not so often performed and expensive in errors so they might make a good sense to be brought to Guides to reduce risk factors and errors.
And the low code doesn’t end at creating instructions. The Metaverse (and digitalization) calls for reimaging processes – Power Platform is a great example how these advanced tools and processes can be brought to work together.
Why Microsoft Dynamics 365 Guides?
The Why question is always important. There are already good reasons for considering Guides for organizations – some of these I already mentioned above
- Live checklist and instructions for complex tasks where errors would cause big effects. Thinking healthcare, maintenance and manufacturing industries here. It might be the first time when someone performs the task – or just does it occasionally.
- Reduce risks by including warnings and more details & best practices to instructions
- Onboarding new employees to the task often is a very effective money-saver use case. Instead of having two people doing tasks for the while (master and padawan) you could bring master holographically to assist the padawan.
- Reduce travel and training time. Cost savings.
There are also other great capabilities included – for example spatial triggers.
This means that when the employee is doing something in the physical world, instructions can trigger based on their location (= what and where they are doing in the real world). Instead of having to click instructions for next chapter manually this can happen automatically.
And going without saying – aligning digital and physical world together spatially, so you are seeing your instructions and models on top of real items.
It can help car maintenance operations greatly. For example electric cars require new training and procedures for workers – these could be completed in holographic versions – and teacher might be watching via Remote Assist feature.
Microsoft has collected a few customer stories to understand better how Guides can work and help organizations.
All pictures & videos from Microsoft Dynamics Guides pages and materials.