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Otis Elevator Company: Taking technology usage to the next level

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Apps for its mechanics, digitalisation of its performance management system, and more - let's see how this manufacturer and service provider has used HR tech, in this case study by Jerene Ang.

Amid a constantly changing industry, evolution is critical for organisations to stay competitive – even if the organisation is already one of the world’s largest manufacturer and service providers of elevators, escalators and moving walkways.

As Otis Elevator Company continues to expand with a more globalised and diversified workforce, Sandra Lee, HR director, Otis Southeast Asia, reveals: “Attracting, cultivating and retaining top talent is one of our top priorities, as we’re always looking to enhance our infrastructure and processes.”

As a company, it has continually reinvented itself. Today, it is changing the game again. “We’re approaching the transformation of our service business by putting the focus on people, including our mechanics, to improve their experiences in an increasingly urbanised world,” she says.

“Our approach isn’t just about utilising predictive maintenance, IoT, or new mechanic tools – more than that, we want to develop a connected, globalised digital ecosystem that will keep our users informed, while improving uptime.”

The company is doing so through introducing digital solutions such as a spare parts app to allow mechanics to search for parts even while on-site with their customers; an inspection app that replaces expensive and heavy equipment; a safety app which offers an extra layer of protection for mechanics; and more than a dozen mobile apps to put the control in its mechanics’ hands as well as to further open the lines of communication with customers.

At the same time, Otis’ HR programmes will also undergo digitalisation, allowing for a more flexible, forward-looking and mobile workforce – this includes the use of a new performance management system sans ratings to allow it to focus on dynamic goals and work towards milestones that are in line with business strategies; as well as a new employee survey tool powered by Glint.

Lee further reveals that Singapore has been selected as one of the countries to pilot the launch of Workday – its new HR system – to help the HR team achieve better business outcomes.

Otis has established a “champions network” – made up of service engineers and leaders to front the service transformation effort and provide continuous feedback around the new apps.

A bottom-up transformation

“When it comes to digital, we always start with our people and our customers. We lead from the bottom up – more specifically, we lead our transformation from our field employees.”

In line with that, Otis has established a “champions network” – an internal network made up of a group of Otis service engineers and leaders to front the service transformation effort and provide a stream of continuous feedback around the new tools and apps. These champions will then go on to support global teams to develop and deploy these new technologies.

Lee explains: “This process directly involves the HR team to ensure that all parties are aligned for the successful implementation of the transformation.”

During implementation, the HR team was responsible for mapping out manpower demands, reviewing incentive planning and establishing new policies and procedures, among other things.

“Our new digital programmes are fuelled by 67,000 employees – and accelerated with the strength of United Technologies Corp (UTC).”

Acclimatising to new technology

However, with the implementation of new technology comes its challenges. For Otis, this came in the form of encouraging line managers to adopt a new way of working with the HR team.

“In order to successfully execute the programme, line managers had to be able to examine the data behind our employees’ engagement drivers, and interpret them to plan the next actions.”

Otis rolled out an employee communications programme that clearly explained the initiatives, along with its benefits to the business.
To help the organisation get acclimatised to the changes, training and support was provided to help managers and employees adapt to the new technology.

“We rolled out an employee communications programme that clearly explained the initiatives, along with its benefits to the business. We encouraged employees to initiate more discussions around their career development with their line managers, and put an increased focus on coaching and training to ease them into the transition,” she says.

Returns on every level

On the measurement of success, Lee says: “We measure our success by observing how significantly equipment uptime has improved, along with how satisfied our workforce is with the additional autonomy they’re given to carry out their work.”

Among others, the digital tools have benefited employees by minimising, and possibly removing, the non value-added activities Otis’ mechanics are doing today, providing mechanics around the world access to the same resources, as well as giving them more autonomy, hence, keeping them engaged and invested in the organisation.

For the managers, traditionally paper-heavy admin processes such as overtime submissions and reimbursements have become more organised and convenient, enabling them to increase productivity during approvals of the claims.

For the HR team, the service transformation programme has revolutionised the dynamics of the HR team, as well as the way it functions. 

“The shared service support across the rest of UTC’s businesses has helped us streamline our processes to uncover different perspectives, which puts a focus on transformational HR work and business partnering. This has also paved the way for our team to utilise data analytics to drive more efficient business outcomes.”

As for the business, the programme has enabled Otis’ field employees to shorten the lead time previously needed to repair lifts, while improving equipment uptime, hence, increasing customer satisfaction.

“In fact, we’ve noticed an increase in customer satisfaction, leading to higher customer retention.”

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