While the COVID-19 pandemic impacted all industries, it definitely hurt some more than others and in a variety of ways. For example, entertainment and recreational businesses like movie theaters and restaurants suffered significant losses in revenue due to shutdowns and social distancing mandates. But according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 5% of all U.S. utilities experienced a government-mandated closure during the pandemic. Interestingly enough, nearly half of all establishments within the utility sector increased telework as a result of the pandemic.
So, how did utilities (along with other industries that pivoted to telework arrangements) do it? Through improved digitization efforts. We know that utilities have gradually leaned on technology to manage their mobile workforce in recent years. But today, we’ll look closer at how the pandemic has accelerated that push.
A recent report from Gartner extensively covered the impact that COVID-19 had on the type of mobile fieldwork utilities handle. In that report, Gartner noted that the pandemic “forced utilities to re-prioritize their technology investment.” The result was that certain utilities had to pause expenditures. Mainly, utilities that didn’t support digitization or were unable to develop flexible work solutions. As Gartner points out, that also meant an increased interest in products that provided value across the range of field operations. One example of that type of solution is field service software, which increases collaboration and communication and transforms processes throughout multiple business units.
There once was a time when companies were wary of the cloud. While fraudsters remain an ongoing concern, the rewards of using the cloud now far outweigh the risks. Technology vendors have become increasingly aware that companies like utilities need cloud-based solutions to support a mobile workforce. The pandemic brought this need into clear focus, with companies both increasing the security of software offerings and expanding services. Gartner is bullish on the future of cloud-based mobile workforce management solutions, saying they believe adoption rates will “continue in an upward trend.”
Despite utilities historically navigating technicians working in the field, the pandemic did throw out a curveball: back-office employees working remotely. In the past, those employees would be seated under one roof where a shared network was available. But in response to the pandemic, utilities were forced to scramble to accommodate remote office support staff. They needed secure methods of sharing data and platform access in real-time across remote locations.
Mobile workforce management products helped to make that possible. Take field service software, for instance, which typically includes modules designed for work order management, asset and inventory management, time and expense management, scheduling, routing, and dispatch, among other functions. When these solutions are hosted in the cloud, back-office employees receive the same access they would have logged in from headquarters. As companies start to plan for the future, it’s possible that this functionality could trigger a monumental shift, in which telework or flexible scheduling becomes the norm.
EnSight+ is a field service software that many utilities trust with the management of a mobile workforce. We offer a robust, cloud-based solution that includes modules to take your utility’s efficiency and effectiveness to the next level. It also includes work order management and scheduling, routing, and dispatch. To learn more about what we’ve done for utilities like yours and to hear the feedback we’ve received from utility customers during COVID-19, book your demo today.
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