Hastings Deering finds digital inspiration

The customer portal is being rolled out across Queensland.

What are the standards that Hastings Deering has set for the company as it evolves into a digital organisation? Ben Creagh finds out.

Technology leaders like Google, Uber and Amazon are standout examples of what can be achieved in the digital age.

Mining may not have reached the technological heights of these global behemoths, but the disrupters are serving as inspiration to push the industry to another level.

Hastings Deering is feeding off their lead by introducing similar technologies across its business.

The Cat equipment dealer has identified opportunities where the initiatives of these technology companies benefit both its customers and workforce.

Hastings Deering realised that its industry peers are not the only standard that its digital capabilities should be compared to, according to chief executive officer Dean Mehmet.

“We needed to start benchmarking ourselves not only against our traditional competitors but also the likes of Amazon, Google and Uber,” Mehmet tells Australian Mining.

“Customer experience is a key pillar of our five-year strategy, we therefore see the delivery of a seamless digital experience being core to our customer engagement model.

“The implementation of an integrated digital platform will deliver a seamless entry point to Hastings Deering and enables us to capture, consolidate, analyse and deliver to customers equipment, parts, service and financial data from multiple digital platforms and connected assets.

“If you look at Amazon they make purchasing easy. We want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to benchmark ourselves in this space.”

As Queensland and the Northern Territory’s largest provider of equipment, parts, services, fleet management and productivity solutions, the parallels Hastings Deering can draw with these companies are considerable.

From a service perspective, Hastings Deering regards the tracking ability of Uber as a technology it can replicate.

“When you’ve called an Uber, you know when they are getting close, you get those alerts and messages,” Mehmet says.

“When you look at that from our field service perspective we can provide similar automated alerts to our customers by saying your service technician is on the way, giving us a more personalised approach and an improved customer experience.”

Each of these technologies and services are delivering greater access to data, an integral part of Hastings Deering’s digital focus and customer value proposition.

Hastings Deering is generating and collecting large volumes of equipment data, and plans to ensure that this information is taken advantage of.

“When you look at where we can deliver additional value to our customers beyond the traditional dealer model it is through the transformation of equipment data into rich insights to increase their assets productivity,” Mehmet says.

Hastings Deering has already made noticeable progress on its aim to deliver the integrated digital ecosystem.

Working with the technology and digital arm of parent group Sime Darby, the company has already introduced a number of initiatives and has more set for launch and development in 2019.

The foundation of the digital transformation is an ‘enterprise portal’, which provides both customers and employees with a view of the data Hastings Deering has generated from an assets, operations and financial perspective.

The new portal has been focused on delivering excellent customer experience as a priority and enables improved customer productivity and reduced costs. Hastings Deering customers can now track assets, fleet performance, parts orders and much more from their smart phone, tablet or desktop.

Hastings Deering has also introduced the first version of an asset tracking app across Far North and Central Queensland, and will do the same in South East Queensland and the Northern Territory this quarter.

This app allows Hastings Deering to leverage QR Code technology to track the location and status of any piece of equipment that comes into these business centres, explains Alastair Sharman, Hasting Deering’s digital program manager.

With a QR Code scanner, Hastings Deering monitors if the equipment is in the workshop, has been stored or has left the centre.

Hastings Deering plans to add further functionality to the asset tracker app, continues Sharman.

“The next version that will roll out this financial year will have a GPS connection to specific assets such as key components we either swap with our customers or rental equipment,” Sharman explains.

Hastings Deering has unveiled a digital parts app that streamlines the delivery process by allowing clients to sign off delivery of assets on a tablet instead of paper.

It is combining this parts app with the enterprise portal, to provide notifications for deliveries that can be referenced in real time.

The company has also explored and implemented robotic process automation technologies to strengthen each of the digital initiatives. It is now leveraging these technologies to improve customer service by removing previously manual tasks – such as invoice processing.

“We are looking at any opportunities that we think are going to deliver improved communications and service delivery for our customers,” Mehmet says.

“We are committed to improving the quality of our service delivery and are arming our employees with the latest technology to achieve this. Digital improves the way we work, increases our efficiency and enables our employees to focus on high value engagement with our customers.”

It’s a widespread transformation for Hastings Deering’s customers, but also the company’s workforce.

Hastings Deering’s management is determined to bring welcome changes to the work lives of the company’s employees, establishing a culture that embraces digital technology and leads to improved customer experience. Mehmet says a volatile industry like mining requires Hastings Deering leverage these digital opportunities to build a resilient workforce that is ready for change.

“For us to succeed in the digital space we need a culture that has the ability to move and be agile and to support our staff to see themselves as digital workers. It’s not about seeing digital as a threat but instead as an enabler for them to have a greater experience coming to work,” Mehmet concludes.

This article also appears in the March edition of Australian Mining.

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