This special interest group covers mobile technologies and approaches that are helping utilities do business today. 

Christopher Neely's picture
Independent Local News Organization

Journalist for nearly a decade with keen interest in local energy policies for cities and national efforts to facilitate a renewable revolution. 

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Have you hired a change manager yet?

image credit: Courtesy Dreamstime

Let’s get the clichés out of the way first: The digitization of the world is well upon us and those who do not keep up will be left behind. The only constant in this world is change, and so on and so forth.

We’ve been managing this digitization for long enough that suddenly, these slow-to-adopt technologies are becoming more widely embraced and essential pieces of our daily lives. Cloud technology, tablet computing and, more recently, augmented and merged reality. And of course, we have this pandemic, which forced many of us to accept certain technologies in order to maintain our livelihoods.

What these technologies and the pandemic have in common is that they are both drivers for what is becoming a more mobile work environment and companies are investing to make their mobile workforce as efficient and effective as possible. What does this look like? Sure, tablets, cell phones and cloud access to access documents are common. But now, augmented and merged reality are creeping up as major players in field work and the customer experience.

First, a definition: augmented or merged reality is when a technology superimposes computer-generated images over a user’s view of the real world. In a recent webcast for Power Engineering, Duncan Long, product line manager for Clevest told a story about a practical and real-world application of augmented reality that made a job in the field more efficient, effective and safe.

During a powerful windstorm, a utility company had a power line snap that needed repair. The height of the powerline was substantial and the climb up would be especially dangerous with the high winds. The utility could not assign the job to anyone because it was so dangerous, so they asked for a volunteer. The volunteer said he would go up only if he could use a technology similar to Google Glass. He would be able to climb up and focus on his safety. Meanwhile, technology would stream what he was seeing back to the office, where in-house engineers could walk him through the fix by displaying images and instructions on his screen in real-time. The fieldworker stayed safe and the job was done.

Long said this type of technology is coming in the form of apps and computers for customers and field workers. Such substantial changes, he said, were best navigated by utilities who had a dedicated change manager on site.

“Change management is an art,” he said. Whether it is an existing manager who is tech savvy and can lead the team through the shifts, having a dedicated employee to walk older employees through such drastic technological changes increases the effectiveness and efficiency of said change.

Scott Lowes, a construction supervisor with Fortis BC, said utilities needed to “buckle up” for these changes over the next decade.

“If we utilities do not get on board, we will cease to be effective,” Lowes said. He said these technological adoptions and “realizing the utility workforce has completely changed” are crucial if utilities want to stay relevant.

So, have you hired a change manager yet?

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