Enterprise mobile applications can help modern utility workers perform more efficiently in the field, providing them with the data-based insights and cutting-edge communication tools they need to keep essential service delivery structures running and customers happy. However, many are resistant to this kind of technological change. Why? Roughly 50 percent of linemen in the U.S. are 45 years of age or older, according to research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means most been navigating their communities for decades, employing techniques that are known to work. Younger utility workers are just as likely to do the same, as most rightfully emulate the men and women who came before them.
Of course, just because established electrical management techniques worked in the past does not mean they will function in the future. In fact, many power providers understand that the industry needs to change to address sector-specific issues, such as grid modernization. But, how can these companies encourage workers to let go of increasingly outmoded workflows and adopt new, mobile-driven options? This is a problem enterprises across myriad spaces face constantly. As a result, there are a number of available strategies for increasing user adoption. Here are some of those tried-and true methods:
Get support from utility leaders
Internal IT teams tasked with implementing new enterprise technology often work with business leaders to create budgets and ensure that project aims align with organizational goals. However, these collaborations should not be all about money, according to LNS Research. In addition to getting financial assistance, implementation teams should also lobby corner office-dwellers for their stamps of approval, as this kind of public support signals to future users that the project is legitimate and compliance is expected. This strategy can yield considerable results, especially when deployed in small-scale utilities with leaders who have field duties and may actually use the new technology themselves.
How do implementers gain this kind of confidence from management? The answer is simple: preparation. Staff working to integrate mobile technology into utility field operations must come to the table with concrete plans, as well as accurate budgetary projections.
Fight the urge to go overboard
Mobile application technology opens up an endless number of new operational opportunities for businesses of all kinds, as most common tasks can, in some form or another, find a home within on-the-go portals. This state of affairs, combined with the overwhelming popularity of the mobile lifestyle, can lead implementers to "app-ify everything," according to TechTarget. While almost 80 percent of American adults do use smartphones, according to Pew Research Center, not all of them are interested in condensing their duties into those little wonders. Linemen are especially hands-on when it comes to work and most certainly will not appreciate being forced to swipe right for each and every task.
With this in mind, IT teams should carefully select what features they want to incorporate and fight the urge to transform every day-to-day work activity into an array of keystrokes.
Prioritize experience above all else
When searching for the right mobile application, many utilities focus solely on the features. This common compulsion makes perfect sense, as prospective adopters are looking to distil disparate tasks within one smartphone-ready portal. However, this sort of feature-centered search leads a large number to neglect another equally important variable: the user experience. Simply put, users will not take advantage of an application that is difficult to navigate or employ in standard working conditions, according to Utility Products. Field utility employees are likely to fall back on proven manual processes rather than scroll through endless menus or mash unresponsive touchscreen targets. Sure, this method may take longer and negate company resources, but it gets the job done.
Utilities moving to mobile can tackle this issue straight away by including linemen in the planning process and keeping them in mind during software vendor presentations and design meetings. An unusable application is a waste of utility resources, no matter how the number of features it boasts.
With these guidelines, electric companies looking to modernize their operations can get field teams on their side and implement enterprise solutions that actually make a difference.
Is you utility ready to integrate an industry-tested mobile application into its current workflow? Connect with DataVoice International today. Power providers across the country trust our crew and manager mobile applications to give field workers and leaders the tools they need to serve modern customers and achieve new operational heights. Contact us today to learn more about our products, including the mobile-ready DataVoice Outage Management Solution.