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6 reasons to select a platform based approach for workforce management

image credit: Purchased from Shutterstock by Dusk Mobile

One area the events of 2020 has shown us, is the need to innovate and enact change quickly across your utility.

 

However, challenges abound in technology transformation across infrastructure, vendor alignment, data volumes and a myriad of complexity driven from years of technology investment. So how achieve this and select a technology toolset that will deliver results reflective of today’s environment? This is where a platform differentiates itself.

 

For technology to support your workforce transformation initiatives at your utility, a platform based approach is a key to success. Here are 6 reasons to select a platform and the benefits in doing so.

 

1. Flexibility

 

Large IT transformations are being put off in the current climate, which has been reflected in the stocks of some of the largest players in the market. More on that here

 

That means that lower cost, faster ROI, and agile platforms are needed. Utilities are not standing still. Platforms that offer a “no code” approach allow business user teams to prove or disprove a theory before spending time putting a business case together. This agility allows utility business leaders to continue to meet their KPI’s.

 

Beyond validating a business process, the platform needs to be able to scale to cater for workloads when it is rolled out to your workforce of office and field based teams. The term tactical but strategic comes into play here.

 

2. Value and Budget

 

No longer can utility business leaders be expected to pay for licences that they do not need, a year in advance. The per user seat is a legacy enterprise licence model but as cloud vendors have shown, being able to add or remove licences is commonplace. There are still cases today where utilities talk about software solutions that they cannot afford to add users to, which are key to their operations and the licence model is not cost effective with their peaks and troughs of work volumes.

 

Licensing different ways is gradually becoming more apparent, such as by assets, clients, crews, or users. A good platform will provide this flexibility, including modelling scenarios for their customer to extract the best value.

 

Consider platforms that have modules that can be turned on and off as they are explored and vendor support is available through that journey. A true value added partnership between vendor and customer.

 

3. Independence

 

In today’s environment of remote work, the ability for a business unit to be empowered by enabling themselves independently is crucial. Adhering to utility organisational architectural governance and security has also increased with distributed locations and is the balance that a platform provides for.

 

Being IT compliant but autonomous as a team is becoming fast the norm today.

 

To quote Mckinsey on platforms here: “They operate as independent entities that bring together business, technology, governance, processes, and people management and are empowered to move quickly”.

 

4. Collaboration

 

Utilities collect and utilise different data sets and with this wealth of information, sharing these insights within the business can provide a new level of value to your customers.

 

Beyond just visualizing the data, consider how utility business leaders can act on these insights. An abnormal reading has come in from a piece of equipment in the field that has IoT sensor connectivity. Aside from being made aware of this situation, consider how operations teams can automate the investigation such as dispatching a crew to investigate or automating another workflow to another system.

 

When looking for benefits consider customers SLA’s, GSL’s, operational KPI’s and financial penalties when building a business case. Furthermore, this can feed into potential future business models and collaboration externally with customers and suppliers.

 

5. Real time data

 

Smart phones have been around in varying forms for more than 15 years and the expectation of customers, suppliers and staff has shifted to the “need it now” model. This has driven behavioral change from the consumer world into the business world. For example, “I can see what my friend is having for breakfast now at the tap of a screen but I have to drive to a depot to find out where I’m working today”

 

Imagine having access to data straight from the source, immediately. The power of that data and the insights it offers for decision making. A customer experience (positive or negative) is updated from the field and within minutes or hours can be addressed, not days or weeks when it can fester.

 

6. Intelligence

 

Leveraging toolsets to uncover deeper insights at utilities. This could be across customers, assets, infrastructure and more. Applying algorithms to these that look for patterns and behaviors, so utilities can deliver greater value.

 

Strategic decisions can be supported by a new level of intelligence and learning. Imagine the benefits of being able to predict outcomes based on the likelihood of applying certain scenarios such as weather events, overlaid with your data without spendind weeks creating a business case that could be rejected.

 

Takeaway Tip

 

Delivering results and showcasing value through change has increased in priority, even more so during 2020 at utilities. A platform approach allows the flexibility and capability to do this across business processes, IT infrastructure and multiple vendor stacks to come together.

 

Discussions

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Nov 6, 2020

Consider platforms that have modules that can be turned on and off as they are explored and vendor support is available through that journey. A true value added partnership between vendor and customer.

This has been an interesting trend to watch, from purchasing software to licensing it annually. Are there any types of software that are largely bucking this trend, or are we totally headed towards the annual payment model? And did the mass change to virtual workforces create any changes in that respect from the software companies trying to adapt and help companies who needed to move faster than ever thought possible? 

Alan King's picture
Alan King on Nov 7, 2020

Thanks Matt, good questions!

Some software companies have only known consumption based models. Other vendors have already moved and the remaining are still coming to the party with the option of consumption based models. Our lives are now so orientated around consumption models and paying for what we use, that it stands to reason that option for enterprise software continues to head that way.

All our business software from support tools, hosting, communication and more is consumption based in different forms, with easy activate/deactive or increase/decrease. Annual payment is still an option certainly and discounted accordingly.

The second question is interesting and in my opinion as a vendor observing our clients and the other tools they use, yes virtual workforces did create a challenge in some cases. Historically (sounds odd to say that!), when our clients worked in offices/pods as teams, tasks could be delegated based on those with software access from "2. Value and Budget" above. Moving to a virtual environment meant that ability became a lot more challenging for someone to login and run a report or update a record as they needed to ask someone to carry out that task virtually, rather than over a partition wall. Some ended up purchasing additional licences to address this and others formalised the process with role responsibilities. It's another topic on how the informal behaviours and favours suddenly had to be formalised with remote working.

By way of help, certainly both us and others in industry did offer support in a variety of ways to keep the lights on during that transition to virtual working and continue to do so.

Thanks for the questions! 

 

 

Alan King's picture

Thank Alan for the Post!

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