Not long after the global pandemic began, innovators at Salesforce began to brainstorm ways to leverage the company’s technology to help millions of people around the world safely return to work. Setting aside the massive economic hit in lost wealth and productivity, how could technology help to keep people safe once they did venture back to their workplaces?
Their first move was to clarify the method of the viral spread. Initially, it was believed that keeping a distance of 6 feet would prevent infection so, to avoid such situations, social distancing and frequent hand washing became the initial means to defend against the virus. However, when it became clear through further research that the droplets could hang in the air for several hours or longer, health authorities began to encourage mask-wearing in public places.
Salesforce took these health guidelines and incorporated them into several proprietary technologies — namely Shift Management, Field Service, and Health Cloud — to produce a solution that could help businesses reopen safely and ensure a healthy workforce. The resulting product, Work.com, was ready to go as of June.
Salesforce Re-Purposes Technology Platforms
Salesforce is redeploying the functionalities of its various technology platforms — centralized data acquisition, AI-powered data analysis, and instant access to the results anywhere, any time — to produce a critical new tool in the ongoing fight against Covid-19.
When Murty Chennubhotla, Product Architect at Gerent, looked into Work.com, he was impressed but felt that Salesforce technology could do more.
“I felt this was, in a way, a short-term vision, where they're just looking at people coming back to work in the next six months. So, I started thinking about what happens after? This is not going to end anytime soon, and we have to be ready with something beyond the next six months,” Chennubhotla shared in an episode of Gerent’s Ahead of the Curve podcast.
“Pandemics will happen again. Everybody will have to remain careful in terms of how they work. That led me to the CDC’s website where I was surprised at how many health strategies they recommended. I wondered, how many of those are actually implemented in the organization? The answer is not many. There’s a glaring gap there.”
How Gerent Expanded Work.com
Murty consulted with Gopi Ramineni, Gerent’s CEO, to zero in on several areas where Gerent could create add-ons to support and extend functionality for Work.com.
The two decided on two core themes that Gerent could move forward with immediately: manufacturing and education.
Manufacturing is an area in which Gerent has years of deep experience, having consulted on and implemented Salesforce technologies for companies around the world. The nature of manufacturing work is such that employees must be on-site to do their jobs — which makes screenings all but mandatory. Chennubhotla modified Health Cloud’s capacity for EHR (Electronic Health Records) interconnectivity to adapt it for a manufacturing environment.
Chennubhotla believes that manufacturing is going to be a key generator of jobs in the future.
“Many companies want to bring manufacturing back into the country. Everybody wants to minimize the dependency on China. So manufacturing is, in my opinion, going to be a big industry where more and more people are going to find jobs,” he said. “So, we have to have the strategies and methodologies in place to make factory floors safe places to be.”
As difficult and fraught with risk as the re-opening of businesses is, the situation surrounding school reopenings is even harder.
Considering the Challenges of School Reopenings
The path to academic reopening is, as of yet, unclear. This was brought home in stark terms when Chennubhotla was forced to watch his daughter’s graduation via Zoom, rather than in person. He began to think about how to make it possible for kids – especially foreign students returning to the U.S. from their home countries – and teachers to get back to the classroom safely.
“How do you start tracking where foreign students are coming from,” he wondered. “What is the situation in their country? Is somebody coming from Italy? Is somebody coming from India? Is somebody coming from Spain? How do you start monitoring that data, and contact tracing for the extended family?”
Schools will soon need full access to immunization records, Murty argued. This places an added need and emphasis on data security, something that is well within the scope of Work.com and its Gerent-developed add-ons. The upshot is that schools would now have the ability to keep immunization records on file. This health data could then be used to predict future trends or scenarios within the schools themselves.
Expanding Contact Tracing Within Work.com
The key to both the manufacturing and education add-ons from Gerent is extended contact tracing. Rather than stop at just the employee (or student), as Work.com does, Gerent’s add-ons include the student or employee’s family members, as well.
“What I did was start with the idea of someone coming from their home. So what is the current situation in their house? Who are their household members? Do they know whether they've been tested or not? Do they have any symptoms? So I've built an employee household object which can collect a lot of this data.” Chennubhotla noted.
To support contact tracing, Salesforce relies on its own Salesforce Survey tool, which Murty has adapted for Gerent’s use. He said that by generating survey results, schools and other organizations can use the results, analyzed through the built-in artificial intelligence, to enunciate a problem and then formulate an action plan to deal with it.
There is more to come from Gerent, including extensions to Work.com for the healthcare sector. Suffice it to say, both Gerent and Salesforce are stepping up in a major way to help manufacturing companies and organizations like schools with the means to problem-solve their safety issues and provide strategies for re-opening. Working with technology like this, every business and public entity can ensure a high level of security now and in the foreseeable future.
This technology can make or break safe re-openings; contact us for more information on how it will work for you!