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Utilities Need to Account for Smartphone Market Volatility

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Paul Korzeniowski's picture
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Down, up, down, and back up again? The worldwide smartphone market has experienced turbulence recently. Changing business dynamics, supply chain issues, and market maturity resulted in wild swings in supply and demand. As utilities embrace these devices, they need to account for the uncertainty and put backup plans in place.

Worldwide smartphone sales grew 6% in 2021, according to Gartner, Inc.  Energy companies invested in the technology to provide employees, both office executives and mobile support teams, with easy to use systems as new social distancing rules went into effect.

In addition, energy companies started to deploy 5G applications. This emerging network option supports edge computing and the Internet of Things (IoT). With it, energy companies build new applications that process data closer to their generation points, improving response times and lowering costs.

The boost in 2021 followed a decline of 12.5% in 2020, according to Gartner.  The smartphone market is mature, so new applications are not as common as they once were.

Despite the gains, energy company purchases were uneven in 2021. The repercussions from the global pandemic continue to be felt. Supply chains have been disrupted, so in a growing number of cases, vendors cannot secure enough semiconductors to meet production demands.  In the fourth quarter of 2021, global smartphone sales declined, 1.7% mainly to supply constraints.

Challenging Times for Executives

So as they move forward, energy company executives have to account for a number of variables that could impact their ability to provide employees with needed smartphones. The pandemic has waxed and waned during the past few years, making short term and long term planning challenging. A new variant could again create shutdowns and more digital interactions.

Supply chains remain in flux. The global outlook has become more complex with the war in the Ukraine. As various sanctions are enacted, their ripple effects will be felt.

To address the challenges, energy company execs need to first acknowledge the problems. Then, they may want to multisource their devices. A backup may be available if the primary one encounters problems.

Smartphones have become an integral business tool for many utility industry employees. Energy suppliers have been providing more of these devices to their workers in order to remove friction from business processes. However, their ability to purchase the devices has been hampered and the outlook remains murky, making it a challenging requirement for energy company executives to fill.

 

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