Competition continues to increase within the public utility space as power providers of all sizes invest considerable amounts in infrastructure projects designed to expand their capabilities. Utilities spent an estimated $117 billion on operational improvements in 2016, according to research from Deloitte. These expenditures went toward ambitious initiatives addressing pivotal productivity roadblocks, including aging electrical grid components. In addition to bolstering physical service delivery features, many utilities have improved their backend information technology systems. Almost 80 percent of these entities have embarked on digital improvement efforts, researchers at CA Technologies found.
These developments are likely to continue into 2018 due to the ongoing escalation in customer expectations and unchanged regulatory environment, wherein oversight organizations favor power providers willing to embrace innovation. With this in mind, utility companies clinging to traditional workflows should take the plunge and launch improvement projects. While the teams tasked with shaping and leading these programs may be tempted to go big, so to speak, and address significant pieces of long-neglected infrastructure, smaller changes centered on the implementation of digital technology may yield more substantive and immediate results. For instance, a large number of utilities see prompt spikes in performance following the roll out of mobile application suites containing modules for customers, managers and linemen. Why? On-the-go portals can supercharge almost every area of the operation, from customer service to outage management. And, with increased operational capacity, electric companies are free to grow and broaden their respective marketplace footprints.
Here are some of the ways that mobile applications drive productivity within utilities and lay the groundwork for success in a progressively competitive climate:
"Utilities spent an estimated $117 billion on operational improvements in 2016."
More effective customer interaction
Customer demands have evolved in recent years due to the increasing influence of mobile technology. Modern consumers are no longer content to deal with paper billing statements or clogged phone lines – these individuals expect utility companies and other businesses to offer cutting-edge digital experiences, according to Utility Dive. However, many utilities have been slow to meet this expectation, as fewer than one-quarter offer customer-facing mobile applications that include outage viewing and reporting, billing and usage monitoring features, according to Statista. This is an unfortunate state of affairs, for these portals not only lead to improved customer satisfaction but also lead to increased productivity.
For instance, utilities that manage customer interactions via applications can usually lean on automated workflows that save time. Additionally, application users often encourage field operations, leveraging easy-to-use mobile communication channels to report outages and other events – pieces of essential data that come in handy during instances of downtime.
Increased operational transparency
Organizations in myriad sectors have embraced data-based backend IT technology in an effort to collect operational insights that might reveal areas in need of improvement. Utilities have largely jumped aboard the analytics bandwagon, implementing digital infrastructure designed to cull data from key service delivery fixtures, Electric Light and Power reported. However, analytics installations that monitor fixed assets constitute only one half of the business intelligence equation. To see optimal results, utilities must also track their workforces. Most power providers invest considerable resources in field operations, which are notoriously difficult to oversee and optimize – that is, unless mobile applications are involved.
These portals give managers the power to track field activities and gather the information they need to fine-tune such activities for maximum impact.
Improved field capabilities
Linemen are indisputable experts on electrical service delivery. These professionals maintain massive knowledge bases informed by thousands of field experiences, and therefore require very little technological assistance. However, there is one tool that can help linemen in the field: the mobile application. On-the-go modules allow field crews to execute and manage key field activities such as vegetation removal with greater accuracy. They also streamline auditing and equipment assessment practices, ultimately giving linemen the power to complete their work with greater speed.
Power providers looking to gain a competitive edge in the growing public utilities market must consider implementing customer, manager and crew mobile applications, as these digital tools can lay the groundwork for sustained expansion and success. Utility companies prepared to move forward with such efforts should connect with dataVoice International. Here at dataVoice, we make weather-tested software solutions for modern utilities.
Contact us today to learn more about our robust mobile application suite.