During this year’s EDIST conference in Markham, Canada, Hexagon and Clevest hosted a learning session that featured trends we see emerging from customers and from the market pertaining to mobile workforce management. Julien Marin, vice president of sales and strategic partnerships for Clevest, touched on a wide range of topics. Here are five exciting trends that were discussed during the session.
1. Consolidating Systems and Applications
When looking at the historical implementation of field applications, there are a lot of spot solutions that were designed to work with specific IT systems, which often resulted in a multitude of highly segregated field solutions that require a lot of IT support. What we are seeing now is a move towards enterprise-grade field applications is a single application that covers trouble tickets, asset inspections, field inventory tracking, time entry, and more. That means utility organizations can use one single application to support all field operations and connect it to multiple backend IT systems to consume and complete fieldwork. Having one mobile workforce management system greatly reduces support complexity and costs and also reduces vendor maintenance and support fees. It’s a win-win!
2. Focusing on Operational Gains
Initially, mobile workforce management systems were deployed as mechanisms to replace paper-based processes and improve data capture. As second and third generation systems became available, the feature-set has refocused on increasing operational gains. Clevest’s solution offers a number of innovative features that can help utilities achieve greater efficiencies. For example, using algorithms to optimize work order scheduling and enabling automatic state changes for “En-route” and “Arrived On-site”. This simplifies field technician interaction, increases data validation at the point of data entry to create smarter workflows, and many other benefits. Other great operations-focused features from Clevest include crew management, work planning, integrated inventory tracking with asset management systems, and time and expense capture.
3. Improving Customer Experience and Engagement
Customer satisfaction has become a major focus area for utility organizations around the globe. Utilities are looking to provide better information to customers during customer interactions. As a result, mobile workforce management systems are being asked to provide features to support booking and customer engagement in a seamless and integrated way. Clevest has built out some of these requests, like customer appointments booked in the customer information system are then validated based on crew capacity within the mobile workforce management system. Once the crew requirements have been met, utility organizations can then give smaller windows for customer appointments, which leads to higher customer satisfaction.
4. Extending Mobile Workforce Management Solutions to Contract Workers
With contractor usage on the rise and their usage being leveraged across the utility, there continues to be the need to extend mobile workforce management systems to contractors. In his presentation, Julien Marin discussed three main technology trends for contractor enablement:
- Working Location Solutions is simply GPS tracking for the location of contractors while on the job. Contractors real-time positions are visible to dispatchers and supervisors and are a highly useful feature for tracking mutual aid crews during storms.
- Partial Mobile Workforce Management Enablement gives mobile workforce management access only to the contractor’s supervisor/dispatcher so that the supervisor can receive work orders. The work order status would then need to be updated by the contractor supervisor enabling utilities to track work statuses.
- Full Mobile Workforce Management Enablement gives access based on and limited to the contractor’s work scope. It helps to simplify work confirmation and invoice validation.
5. Making Safety Features Even More Important
Utilities have long had safety as a top priority. With technological enablement of mobile workforce management systems, utilities are asking for new features that support lone-worker scenarios and emergency event scenarios, as well as blue-sky day general safety. Clevest has already created some worker safety features like using geofences to track special working zones and ‘safety timers’ that can be set before commencing work or trigged during an emergency. Julien spoke about future safety trends as well, like the exploration of wearables to support worker safety.
All-in-all, I think everyone who attended our session learned a lot and enjoyed the discussion which stemmed from each of these trends. If you would like to learn more about the Hexagon and Clevest partnership, visit us together at TechAdvantage (booth #547) or check out our joint press release. If you’re interested in implementing a mobile workforce management solution at your organization, please reach out to your account executive or feel free to contact me directly.
Pamela Bernier is a senior marketing specialist for Hexagon's Safety & Infrastructure division. Bernier has five years of experience in the public safety and utilities industry including police, fire, emergency management, and distribution – gaining valuable insight into the global business. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Wilfrid Laurier University.