Today, O2 Business announces a new suite of digital solutions to help get people and businesses back to work safely, building customer confidence. Virtual queuing, staff scheduling and appointment booking technologies have proved so successful in allowing O2 to reopen its retail stores, that these solutions are being offered to a range of O2 customers including retailers, supermarkets, stadia and healthcare businesses.
The announcement forms a key plank of O2’s commitment to help with “Rebuilding Britain”, using connectivity to accelerate the recovery and turbocharge productivity.
To ensure businesses are armed with the necessary insight to manage the reopening of the economy, O2 is also offering optional access to O2 Motion – the big data and insights arm of the business to its Business customers, a powerful tool to support their planning. O2 Motion helps organisations understand the location, movement and demographic profile of people across the UK. It provides aggregated, anonymised insight that protects individual privacy.
Since the start of the pandemic O2 Motion has been supporting government agencies, transport bodies, train operating companies and academic institutions by supplying daily insight on population movement, split by age bracket and gender. This has helped us understand how COVID-19 is spreading and can help businesses plan for the reopening of the economy.
Jo Bertram, Managing Director at O2 Business, said: “Digital has been disrupting business models for decades, but COVID-19 has turbocharged the changes we are dealing with. We believe that innovative technologies like virtual queuing and staff scheduling can help businesses reopen in a safe, socially distant way that builds customer confidence. Combined with connectivity, the latest devices and data insights, these solutions can help Rebuild Britain.”
Queue-busting software boosts socially distant shopping
O2 has been using a virtual queuing system to reinforce social distancing measures since it reopened on June 15. The software, supplied by retail technology company Qudini, allows customers walking into O2’s stores to join a virtual queue and receive real-time text message updates on their position in the queue, a wait-time estimate and when an O2 advisor is ready for their one-to-one appointment.
Imogen Wethered, CEO of Qudini said: “Customers are worried about how they can maintain social distancing whilst shopping. Until the retail sector alleviates these concerns it is unlikely that we will see a return to pre-lockdown levels of footfall. Our virtual queuing technology can help to address these safety concerns and bring shoppers back.”
Workforce management swaps spreadsheets for Autoscheduling
Workforce scheduling automation is another area that O2 Business believes will help retailers rebuild and reopen. The software, provided by Rotageek, helps to automate labour scheduling in order to free up associates for higher value, people-focused work. The platform fully manages the staff scheduling workflow, using real-time customer data to create optimised rotas for stores.
The algorithm takes into account operational, legal and financial rules alongside employee preferences and availability. Rotageek optimises schedules by creating and assigning shifts in tandem, generating millions of combinations of schedules and only proposing a final schedule where every shift is assigned to a worker. The technology is already being rolled out across retailer Gap’s UK and EU stores following a successful trial that saw rota accuracy improve by 14%.
Chris McCullough, CEO of Rotageek, said: “Too many businesses are still using time-consuming manual processes to make rotas. As retailers plan to adapt their operating models, automation can help them to improve profitability and deliver improvements in everything from meeting customer demand to conversions, basket size and customer satisfaction. More than that, In the unusual circumstances we’re facing, it’s critical that companies work collaboratively with staff to help them with their personal challenges. By offering them input into their schedules, allowing them to swap, change and pick up shifts, retailers can support them in managing demands like childcare or family commitments. I truly believe that how companies treat their employees during this time will have a profound impact on their long-term success.”
As retailers are reopening, Rotageek offers the ability for its customers to prevent the spread of infection through teams by automatically splitting them into cohorts. The detailed intra-day task scheduling functionality means you can designate who is covering specific tasks during any given period, a feature that is proving useful in tracking new duties and roles like enhanced cleaning practices and capacity monitoring. Talk to O2 to find out more about how Digital Scheduling will change due to Covid-19.
Wayra UK alumni
The rollout of Qudini and Rotageek services to O2 Business customers is the culmination of longstanding partnerships between both organisations and O2. Both Qudini and Rotageek are alumni of Wayra UK, O2’s open innovation hub. In the six years since Rotageek joined Wayra, it has raised £12.4 million, grown from two to over 30 people and is a perfect example of how Wayra UK start-ups can work with Telefónica UK (O2) to scale up its business and provide disruptive solutions to its customers. Meanwhile, since joining Wayra in 2012, Qudini has grown into a global business with a team of 21 and software used in 3,600 stores.
Notes to editors:
Qudini is a leading global B2B provider of virtual queuing system and appointment booking software and during Covid-19 their software is helping retailers to offer safe retail experiences by enabling customers to schedule store visits or virtual services, to queue remotely while staying updated and to receive service or to contactless online order pickup experiences.
Their software is used by leading global retailers: Samsung, IQOS, O2, Specsavers, Tesco among others and the NHS.
Rotageek helps organizations predict and meet demand, using data-driven technologies to effectively and fairly schedule staff. The platform uses tailored algorithms and machine learning to find demand patterns that would otherwise go unnoticed – providing best in class and fully personalized business forecasting and scheduling. Rotageek has offices in London and Melbourne with clients including Gap, Pret A Manger, O2, Dune, William Hill, Merlin Entertainments, G4S and The Perfume Shop.
About Wayra UK
At Wayra UK, we democratise entrepreneurship by providing unparalleled access to networks and capital, turning start-ups into scale-ups, while ensuring that our start-ups reflect the diversity of the UK. We have already accelerated almost 303 start-ups and invested in 194 of them, which nowadays have a combined value of over $1.080bn and have had 149 trials or contracts with Telefónica, generating $20m in revenue for our portfolio of start-ups.
We scale start-ups by giving them access not only to investment but also to business development opportunities with some of the world’s largest companies, including our parent company, Telefónica. We are part of a larger group which runs 7 hubs in Europe and Latin America, that reach the entrepreneurial ecosystems of 10 countries. This makes Wayra the world’s most global, connected and technological innovation hub.
Apart from our 194 portfolio companies, we have accelerated over 100 start-ups in 6 cities throughout the UK. We bring world-class start-ups not only to Telefónica globally and to O2 locally, but also to our network of partners, including Cisco, Novartis, Ferrovial, Hyundai, Connected Places Catapult and the British Government, via the GCHQ and NCSC. In each case, our primary aim is to find new sources of revenue and/or innovation for the start-ups.