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Digitalization Will Power the Future of the Utility Field Workforce, Says Info-Tech Research Group

In a new industry resource, the firm explains that to achieve effective implementation of digital solutions within the utilities sector, it is crucial for IT and the field workforce to collaborate and create effective solutions.

Field operation plays a critical role in digital transformation for utilities. For IT teams to support the next frontier of the utilities industry, digitalization will require a comprehensive understanding of field operation culture and field workers’ challenges before introducing digital solutions. Leaders often find it difficult to assess the effectiveness of these solutions beyond the anecdotes from end users and may struggle to establish joint ownership of the solution in a way that empowers field workers for continuous improvements. To tackle these issues, Info-Tech Research Group has published the Improve Your Field Digital Solution Performance blueprint. This research is intended to assist utilities leaders in overcoming these hurdles and fostering meaningful engagement within their field workforce.

Digitally transforming the utility field operation is a complex undertaking, explains Info-Tech in the new resource. The utilities industry faces significant obstacles, including resistance from frontline workers and managers, inadequate funding and resource support, and a limited understanding of digital solution development. To overcome these challenges, utilities must gain a deeper understanding of their workforce and cultivate a culture that embraces openness to change.

The firm’s research highlights the potential for utilities to improve the efficiency of their field digital transformation through the following initiatives:

  • Establishing metrics to assess the performance of field digital solutions and identifying areas for improvement.
  • Developing a comprehensive framework to increase the success rate of field deployment.
  • Identifying key opportunities for digitalization in field operations.

“Don’t neglect field operations and solve the problem piecemeal. Without a holistic approach, managing the many siloed and disjointed solutions may become impossible,” says Jing Wu, principal research director at Info-Tech. “To ensure successful deployment of digital solutions in the utilities sector, both IT and field workforce must collaborate and develop solutions that truly work.”

A fresh perspective on the role of the field workforce is crucial to meet the evolving demands of the utilities industry. The advent of digitalization is revolutionizing the way field workforces engage with customers, machines, assets, robots, data, and artificial intelligence. Info-Tech recommends that utilities leaders consider the productivity and effectiveness enhancements that digitalization can bring to their field workforce:

Digitally native

  • Immersed in digital technologies
  • Proficient in physical, digital, and virtual workspace
  • Adept in data-driven decision making

Augmented human-machine interactions

  • Two-way interactions with smart assets
  • Cooperation with AI-powered robots
  • Assistance from virtual intelligent agents

Connected anywhere securely

  • Connected field workers with centralized operators
  • Situational awareness of the entire ecosystem
  • Remote assistance to autonomous operations

Engaged community

  • Socially responsible workforce
  • Trusted partner the community can count on
  • Promote information transparency via omnichannel

The blueprint also emphasizes the significance of considering the field worker/end-user experience, which is often overlooked by utilities leaders. The firm recommends adopting an outside-in and inside-out approach to measure the experiences of all stakeholders when implementing field digital solutions or evaluating their effectiveness.

“It is vital that utilities identify leading field digital opportunities that drive value for their organizations. By defining what success looks like and incorporating best practices, utilities can improve the overall performance of their field digital solutions,” explains Wu.