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Leading Industry 4.0 with Human-Centered Design

Industry 4.0 is happening now and it’s happening quickly. Industries across the world, but especially in the manufacturing sector, are racing to beat the previous year’s productivity by leaning into AI and data forecasting. However, one aspect that seems to be absent in this technological revolution is human-centered design and change implementation. 

Sarah Krasley, Founder of Shimmy Technologies is changing this narrative and putting people at the heart of her work. Shimmy offers learning software for mobile devices and tablets to gamify learning, while simultaneously upskilling female garment workers. 

Krasley explains, “Games are something people with varying levels of literacy can do. There’s way too much attention spent on getting high performance industrial SaaS tools without as much attention on how people use it and if they want to use it. We do a lot of human centered design work so learning sticks and is fun.”

Currently, Shimmy trains workers in Indonesia and Bangladesh. It is looking to expand its business model to tap into US markets. Krasley is a 2018 Work of the Future Solver and 2021 Future of Work in India & Indonesia Custom Challenge winner.

The National Association of Manufacturers predicts that as many 2.1 million manufacturing jobs could go unfilled before the next decade. “Labor issues are fluctuating right now. There might be absenteeism and then the production line might not be balanced. Maybe there’s a worker who knows how to do one specific job, but companies want workers to be cross trained,” says Krasley. 

(A Shimmy Upskill trainee at AKH Factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh)

A sewing operator with 10 years experience shared how Shimmy has impacted her own career and aspirations, “I have not seen this [tablet] before. This is the first time [and] I was afraid of touching [and] operating it. Then I learned to use it… [and] I learned about different machines and what each machine does which I did not know before. [Now] I want to work as a sewing supervisor. If I get the chance, I will be very happy.”

Post Shimmy training, 84% of users feel confident they can apply for advanced roles and 51% of workers were promoted.

Krasley grew up in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where her grandfather, father, and uncles all worked in the steel industry. “The local steel company did not adopt technology that made it cost competitive. Hundreds to thousands of people lost their jobs,” shares Krasley. Her learning software is ensuring this doesn’t happen to others.

(Maktuba Hossain (center), Shimmy Upskill Trainer, showing a group of factory workers how to operate a digital screen)

Shimmy is used by over 1,500 garment workers in Southeast Asia. It also boasts a net promoter score (NPS) of 70%. 

Jahangir Alam, Assistant General Manager at Reedisha Knitex, shares the impact Shimmy has had at his textile factory, “We have to look for every opportunity to improve efficiencies and productivity while also increasing quality. With Shimmy, we were really able to arm our workers with the knowledge and skills to take ownership of their work and give our production a competitive edge."

Shimmy is developed with human-centered design principles to make sure learnings are relevant and useful for workers of all backgrounds. It also utilizes platforms like TikTok and WhatsApp to support and celebrate the women using Shimmy to upskill. 

“Automation can be difficult because it feels like a force that’s happening to you rather than something you can participate in. We want people to understand they can participate,” says Krasley.

Find out how you can support innovations like Shimmy Technologies. Or, learn how your organization can launch a Custom Challenge to meet your social impact goals here.

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