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From Omnia to Octopus: Lessons in nature for businesses adapting to change

Written by Jon Tucker, General Manager Solutions and Engineering for Panasonic TOUGHBOOK Europe

From Omnia to Octopus: Lessons in nature for businesses adapting to change

As an engineer, I’ve always marvelled at the ability of nature to adapt to its surroundings and believed that it could inspire us in the business world. Take the octopus, for example. I’d imagine that its eight arms would be the envy of any mobile worker but its ability to quickly react to changes and threats in the environment are the attributes that fascinate me.

Cephalopods, including octopuses, squid and cuttlefish, are part of an exclusive group of creatures  that can change colour based on their activity or surroundings. So how do they do it? They have specialised cells in their skin that have a stretchy sac filled with pigment, which can be red, yellow, brown or black in colour. When the muscles around the cell tighten, they pull the pigment sac wider, meaning more pigment is visible on the octopus’ skin. By using these special cells and changing the texture of their skin (yes, they can do that too!), octopuses can seamlessly blend into rocks, corals and sponges.



Adapting to change

Businesses today also increasingly need to be able to react quickly to changing circumstances if they are to survive and thrive. We don’t have the ability to change colour at the drop of a hat but many businesses are building a different kind of agility into their mobile workforces using technology.

Organisations can equip their workforce with rugged mobile devices to help them increase productivity. However, it’s the ability to access the right information, in the right format, at the right time and to be able to quickly adapt these applications as requirements change that unleashes the true power of mobile computing.

Managing software applications across multiple platforms and operating systems can be complex. Traditionally organisations manage a diverse range of mobile IT devices, form factors and operating systems, operating a very siloed approach. Ensuring everything is integrated and kept up to date across all hardware and software platforms can be costly and time-consuming.

Header image source: Vladimir Wrangel/ //  2nd image: JoeZ/


Omnia enables rapid app development

TOUGHBOOK Omnia, powered by MCL, is a new method to manage and adapt to these changes. It is a complete end-to-end mobile enterprise software solution that can reduce development time of custom apps from months to weeks or days and is a tool to effectively manage these digital transformation projects for organisations.

Without the need for coding, and using a drag and drop style of application development, the Omnia team has already shown the power of the platform to adapt to change. For example, when the pandemic meant delivery companies could no longer ask for signatures when delivering parcels, the team were able to demonstrate a new proof of concept application to show how a leading logistics company could adapt its application to take and attach photos of parcels at the door as proof of delivery.

Omnia has also been used to create a visual vehicle check app for a major food delivery operation, as well as creating a hands-free, walk and talk, voice activated application for inspecting railway carriages. For a large vehicle repair business called Raskone, in the Nordics, Omnia was used to create a new inventory management and billing application. Compared to coding from scratch, the software development cost with Omnia was five times lower and delivery much faster. The first demo version was ready two weeks after the initial meeting and Raskone had a usable version after just a couple of months.

And it’s not just faster, streamlined app building with the MCL platform; application deployment and management becomes much easier too.  You can monitor users and devices from virtually any location, deploying new app updates and modifications with increased agility. Staying future-proof is no longer a costly, time-consuming process.


Supports Gemba Process Innovation

In many ways, the solution is a perfect example of Panasonic’s Gemba Process Innovation approach in operation. Gemba Process Innovation requires a combination of hardware, software engineering and system integration to provide the total solution.

The gemba is the physical site where value is created. This Japanese word literally translates to "the actual place". For example, in the supply chain the gemba is where things are made, moved, or sold; the site where value is generated and problems must be confronted: the factory floor, the warehouse, or points-of-sale; these are referred to as the gemba. 

In Japan, Panasonic has more than 100 years of business experience to draw upon and has been an innovator in Gemba Process Innovation and is now bringing these skills to Europe. The principle behind Gemba Process Innovation is a deep understanding of the existing business process. Then follows the design of the new solution using technology and processes to deliver new levels of efficiency and productivity. Testing and optimising then becomes the focus to ensure as much value as possible can be delivered from the innovation. With Omnia’s rapid app development capabilities, this test and optimising phase can be delivered incredibly quickly and effectively.

So, it may be true that a leopard can’t change its spots but in the natural world, as well as in the business world, this ability to rapidly change and adapt is a powerful tool. With our approach to business change, competitive advantage and mobile technology - it’s time to be more octopus!



Find out more about TOUGHBOOK Omnia.

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