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COVID19 pandemic: the challenges and opportunities for the Energy sector

The COVID19 pandemic is now one of the biggest global crises the world has ever faced. Nearly every company, organisation and home has been affected in some way. 

For the energy sector, dampening demand for oil is resulting in falling prices and declining production. A similar theme follows in the electricity sector where the severity of confinement measures has reduced consumption across Europe. Despite this, energy companies still face pressure to keep the lights on for all the many homes and hospitals that rely on them. So how do energy companies marry a squeezed cash flow with the demands of a population reliant on a consistent, secure energy supply? 

Key challenges to address

To safeguard themselves for the future many energy companies are reviewing their budgets. For many, general spending is being deferred making it more important than ever to make use of the current investments they have in place. Technology is one such investment.

With the need for field service workers to continue working in the field (and often at a greater capacity than before) and yet with companies trying to reduce spend and overheads how can they equip their teams with the tools they need to service networks properly? One answer lies with the smart use of technology.

Take the use of mobile devices in the field, for example. Faulty or failed devices are a major curse to productivity - draining time and resources and causing stress for stretched teams. In a survey we conducted, mobile device failures are having an increasingly significant impact on the day-to-day operations of businesses across the globe. Over half (51%) of workers polled reported experiencing at least one mobile issue per month that hinders their ability to do their job. These problems are still on the rise, with more than a third (37%) of workers saying the number of issues they’ve experienced with mobile devices over the last 12-18 months has increased. The research revealed that the top three problems or causes of device failure as stated by workers were: unreliable network connections (45%), battery failure (41%) and applications crashing or becoming unstable (40%). The impact of these failures is significant in terms of employee well-being, with two thirds (66%) of workers reporting anxiety or increasing levels of stress when issues with their mobile devices prevent them from doing their job.

At a time when teams need to work at their best, failing technology is not an option. Teams need to have the support systems in place to ensure the technology they use is healthy and operational.

A holistic approach for better enterprise mobility

Where there is often a problem there should also be a solution. For companies in the energy sector, this is an opportunity to adapt their enterprise mobility strategies. Businesses may not want to invest in any large or costly projects to replace faulty or failed company devices, but systems which can enable existing investments to work more smartly may provide the answer.

Affordable software solutions that can offer a holistic, real-time view of an entire network of mobile and tablet devices will enable IT teams to monitor company devices more closely and troubleshoot problems before they become issues. In the case of field workers, this means joining forces with IT to give them the power to better understand the health, utilisation and even basic tools of their mobile devices. Achieving this kind of distributed transformation will provide scalability and offloads already overburdened IT departments. However, it requires new tools and new methods of dealing with device management in a proactive way.

The benefit of doing so will be true real-time views into the health and utilisation of all mobile devices in the network. This will allow the companies that move quickly to better meet the expectations of their workers by avoiding device downtime and reducing the impact on productivity.

 The other driving force behind this will be customer expectations. As customers demand more proactive and preventative services to avoid downtime rather than reactive solutions to a problem that has already caused trouble, there will be a shift in expectations and models for energy providers. 

 From a cost-saving perspective, this proactive method of mobile device management is critical for energy companies looking to cut down on costs and save capital whilst also trying to maintain business continuity at a time which is critical to not only their business but society at large.

 The current COVID19 pandemic has certainly presented the energy sector with challenges that will test their agility and business adaptability at a time when their services are needed the most. The whole range of consequences is yet to be revealed and is difficult to predict, however,there are opportunities to find new ways to better support customers and field workers whilst also saving costs at a time of increased demand. Real-time mobile device monitoring can help better protect customers and those who work in the industry by providing field workers with the safe, secure and reliable tools they need to do their jobs effectively. 

 The challenge we all face from this COVID-19 is unprecedented but taking steps now will help to ensure a secure, reliable energy supply and a protected workforce.

Discussions

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on May 1, 2020

Real-time mobile device monitoring can help better protect customers and those who work in the industry by providing field workers with the safe, secure and reliable tools they need to do their jobs effectively. 

Agreed on the importance of utilizing digital and remote tools on the grid, and hopefully this crisis only strengthens the utility commitment to these strategies. Though this is the first time making me realize that wow-- can you imagine how much different the response of the utility sector would have had to be if this was 10-20 years ago when such digital tools were far, far from ubiquitous? I think we'd see a grid in much more trouble, but that shouldn't be reason for complacency-- it should be a reminder to continue to do better!

Gary Lee's picture
Gary Lee on May 1, 2020

Thanks for the comment on my article Matt.   I've worked around the telecomms / datacomms industry for over 30 years, and until I went deep into the support of mobile devices / apps several years had no idea how blind utilities and other sectors were to managing these devices and seeing problems as they happen like we do with virtually every other critical IT assets.  It's fun to be working with this solution, and seeing the results that a real-time view on mobile devices and apps can provide to keep these critical front-line workers safe and productive.    We obviously depend on our utility sector, and thankful for the work they are doing -- especially right now -- to keep us safe and functional.   

Gary Lee's picture

Thank Gary for the Post!

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