Eric Dresselhuys, President, DevelopmentThe energy and utility industry is changing, shaped by manifold technological, regulatory, and competitive shifts. The drive for decarbonization, the call for renewables, and the digitization of power delivery systems have resulted in a fundamental restructuring of how utilities operate. These changes, occurring at an ever-accelerating pace, have created a mandate to engage utility field-employees as never before. Although most utilities have invested in various workforce automation solutions, the pace of change requires a rethinking of traditional approaches.
Previous attempts to automate the field have been dominated by an ‘IT-first’ point of view. Tools were bulky, overly complex, and required significant investment in training and compliance. Despite the best of intentions, adoption and benefits were often limited.
It is against this background that Smart Energy Water (SEW), based in California, was established to provide a new set of tools and revamp utility workforce management processes engagement. The company began with a focus on the user— deeply understanding how automation is used in the field and back-office and how it can be improved to make it easier, more timely, and more actionable. With that understanding, SEW took a platform approach, delivering a real-time, mobile-first solution that easily integrates with existing utility back-office. Today, SEW’s solutions support utilities in their digital transformation journey by empowering field workers with modern, mobility toolsets that maximize user engagement, boosts in-the-field collaboration, and increases overall productivity.
Eric Dresselhuys, President of SEW, explicates that mobile devices today come equipped with sensors, cameras, GPS, and processing power, enabling a range of new use cases that create new value streams while delivering improved workforce efficiency. And, when combined with artificial intelligence capabilities, these tools help reduce service and dispatch time, streamline mission-critical field transactions, and improve field safety—allowing utilities to achieve quantum performance gains.
SEW helps companies leverage these technologies through their flagship solution, Smart Mobile Workforce (SMW®). “It is a powerful workforce engagement solution that an easy-to-use and intuitive interface to help utilities reduce operational costs, improve productivity, and enhance safety and environmental compliance,” mentions Dresselhuys. With its enterprise social networking feature, field workers can instantly connect with other workers and groups, irrespective of their departments and geographic locations.
Round-the-clock connectivity, availability of varied channels to reach out to utilities, and a unified workforce management solution is the need of the hour for driving business transformation across people, process and technology for Utilities globally
Similarly, SMW’s content management and electronic forms capability allows traditional paper-based work processes to be digitized and automated.
Dresselhuys further explains that utility customers today expect an ‘Uber’ like experience—track the utility worker, receive real-time updates on the status of repairs, and send feedback instantly. SMW allows companies to integrate work management transactions and data into one system, giving real-time access to the most critical pieces of information necessary for prompt field service management, tying back to the customer and operational systems in real time. Proven success stories are the best testament to the power of SMW®. One client—a large natural gas and electric utility in the U.S., serving approximately 16 million customers, wanted to migrate from its traditional system of training field workers to a single integrated platform that would provide personalized access to training materials anytime and anywhere. By deploying the SMW® Mobile Library module, the company provided its workforce real-time access to training materials with the ability to add notes, create bookmarks, mark favorites, and effortlessly track learning activities—resulting in increased employee satisfaction, retention, and engagement.
The foundation of SEW’s solutions is an unparalleled focus on the end user. As the industry continues to experience rapid change, SEW’s is committed to increasing its focus on the human element, expanding its platform to ensure that utilities and the people who bring them to life realize the full benefit of the emerging technologies that will make the reimagining of its future a successful reality.