Real-time data the future of field operations, study shows

IOT asset management, field operations

According to 85 per cent of respondents to the Future of Field Operation vision study, real-time data access is vital to the successful execution of mission-critical workflows in the energy and utilities industry. The results are part of a three-part report led by Zebra Technologies.

The study showed that 73 per cent of respondents working in energy and utilities consider their companies to be a mobile-first organisation. This aligns with their strategy to transform their operations to become digital energy or digital utilities enterprises, leveraging mobile devices to shift from reactive to proactive, predictive, and even prescriptive service models.

Mobile device usage has helped the majority of respondents drive increased productivity in their field operations, 75 per cent agree that mobile technology will lead to improved worker job satisfaction within the next year. These positive results in both worker performance and sentiment are now driving a significant increase in the utilisation of mobile devices and applications in mission-critical field operations workflows. Today, only 26 percent of companies equip more than half of their field team with mobile technology. Respondents say this is projected to grow to 43 percent of energy and utilities companies by 2025.

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The study explored the deployment and usage trends in the field. When equipping field workers, ruggedised devices are the top choice for energy and utilities companies. Today, nearly 50 per cent of companies have adopted rugged tablets, and this will jump to 80 per cent in the next year. An even higher number of respondents say their companies will use rugged smartphones in the next five years, with 93 per cent indicating their mobile strategy will leverage these purpose-built handheld devices for their workers in the field.

Among the most common features found on mobile devices, 66 per cent of respondents rank mapping and navigation as “extremely important” in day-to-day operations. Access to databases in real-time came in second with 63 percent followed by email functionality with 62 per cent of respondents ranking this as a top priority.

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Key take-aways

  • Over the next five years, the number of companies that will equip more than half of their field technicians with mobile devices will grow by 17 percentage points to reach 43 per cent.
  • Respondents indicate that the deployment of ruggedised tablets and rugged-built mobile devices in the field will see stronger growth than their consumer-grade counterparts over the next five years.
  • Ranked in order of importance by users, the key applications found on mobile devices are mapping and navigation, real-time access to databases, and email.