The term “digital transformation” and “digital disruption” have become mainstream across industries. While some industries have been early adopters and led the digital revolution, others have been slow to embrace the change. The energy and water sector might have arguably been cautious in evolving in some areas. But they are leading the race when it comes to spearheading change at the most critical and essential task of all? Perfecting field services to level up both employee and customer experience in single connected platform along with assets.
By digitizing and innovating, energy and water industry reaps numerous benefits from field service management (FSM). These include streamlined operations, more effective customer service, intelligent insights, enhanced collaboration, and increased customer satisfaction. While realized to different degrees in various industries, these benefits are relevant for all. Why can’t we compare apples to oranges? Let’s look in greater detail at the technological trends and developments that are redefining the FSM market across industries and seek inspiration to improve field services for utilities.
The emergence of Industry 4.0 and the growing concept of Smart Factories have advanced predictive maintenance in the manufacturing sector. It is seen as a proactive method of foreseeing maintenance requirements on a factory floor and catering to them immediately, rather than sticking to the traditional way of making routine and time-based or reactive decisions on encountering an issue.
While manufacturing holds the largest share in the global predictive maintenance, the utility sector is projected to be the fastest growing, owing to the increasing need to monitor and maintain assets and predict failure before they escalate into potential outages. In terms of the workforce, predictive maintenance is helping utilities to send field crews where they are most needed. By leveraging AI, ML, IoT and big data technologies, utilities are improving their operational planning so that the field workers are there in the right location at the right time to handle high-risk issues.
In the past, globalization, mass production and lean operating models have driven the growth of the automotive industry. The future development of the sector will be dependent on data. By enabling seamless convergence of physical and virtual versions of vehicle prototypes and actual vehicles on the road, the digital twin has the potential to address the challenges in the automotive value chain.
However, nowhere else is the opportunity more than in the utility sector. Digital twins allow utilities to stream data from the cloud and visualize the operational processes in real-time. It enables predictive analytics, improves demand response function and energy-water efficiency, opens the doors for new business opportunities, integrates Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) such as distributed solar PV and electric vehicles, and much more. Forward-thinking utilities that have started building intelligent twins are pushing the world toward an agile and sustainable future.
From augmented reality (AR) to drones, assistive technology can help enterprises enhance customer service and experience by bringing the entire organization closer to the customer every day. In the education sector, assistive technology supports teachers in delivering teaching and learning accessible to all students. It helps students with diverse learning needs within an inclusive learning environment.
Assistive technologies such as voice technology, AR, VR, AI and IoT offer utilities a solution to enable real-time, hands-free information exchange to and from the field. It allows utility workers to collect data from the field faster and more accurately. Using these assistive technologies to structure and personalize workflows that prompt data capture from the field can generate invaluable insights to be shared throughout the enterprise. Real-time information flow between the enterprise and the field can create productivity gains and drive customer satisfaction.
Route planning software is one high-tech tool helping construction companies shave hours down in their operating time to seconds. The technology is helping the construction fleet to show up on-time more often and reduce operational costs. Along with GPS tracking, route optimization also enables admins to keep track of their workers and confirm whether they are sticking to their schedules.
In the utility world, route optimization solutions ensure optimal routing and dispatching of field service workers in the new, changing environment. By adopting the technology, modern utilities can warrant every hour in the field is productive and efficient. New business models in route optimization based on data analytics, blockchain, GIS integrated real-time tracking and other advanced technological features enable utilities to save time and fuel. Field workers can spend their time executing tasks instead of worrying about reaching customers’ locations in the safest, most efficient way possible.
The growth of the internet has unearthed the telecommunication sector's potential. Using workforce analytics, the in-office team can keep track of the on-field activities and assign work to the field crew based on their availability and skills. This, in turn, can help telecom organizations to manage the field workers and optimize output effectively.
Workforce analytics powers business intelligence for the energy and water industry with numerous use cases. It allows utilities to keep track of end-to-end work performance, map the crew-level and organization-level KPIs and measure worker efficiency. It summarizes all the work orders based on priority and region. Leveraging AI/ML, workforce analytics also enables utility admins to view non-compliance areas for workers' skills and the type of work they can perform.
While advancements in infrastructure and service are essential for utilities, prioritizing the workforce is critical to utility transformation. FSM allows the industry to chart the path forward with a clear blueprint for success by building organization agility, innovation and workforce experience.
Smart Mobile Workforce (SMW®) is the #1 Digital Workforce Experience (WX) platform for energy, water and gas providers worldwide. SMW® helps intelligently manage the field operations to make the service experiences effortless for the end customers. From work order management to AI/ML-based schedule and dispatch, SMW® delivers real-time visibility into the workforce with simple, intuitive platform experiences, improves operational efficiency and assures seamless service delivery.
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