As we embark on Ofgem’s December energy price cap, the age-old challenge of effectively meeting the Regulator’s requirements rears its head once more. This blog looks at ways in which utility companies can remain focused on operating efficiently, whilst meeting expectations through the use of technology.
But before we explore these factors, it is worth re-evaluating the often contentious relationship utility companies have with their regulator. As stated by Adriana Karaboutis, Chief Information and Digital Officer for National Grid, “The regulators are looking for the same thing we [utility companies] are – best cost, best efficiency, best customer experience.”
Regulation is the holy trinity that should inform your decisions, providing an opportunity for innovation rather than a cause of frustration. By taking influence from Ofgem and making decisions with a technology-first approach, you can unleash new, highly valuable opportunities.
But what does a technology-first approach look like?
Let’s focus on service delivery and start by asking some questions: how can we use data to inform operations, and how can that data be used to enhance service delivery? The answers to these questions needn’t be sought alone. In fact, a large facet to capitalising on technology revolves around the strategic technology partners you select to work alongside you. They already have a wealth of expertise that you can utilise and, when chosen carefully, will give you a very stable platform to build upon.
Back to answering how data and technology can improve service delivery. There are a number of field service management software solutions on the market that offer a comprehensive, all-in-one platform to manage, analyse and, if necessary, rebuild your business processes. They have data at their core which gives you a level of detail and visibility that enables you to review your processes and make efficiency gains as and when your industry demands it. But a truly technology led strategy should go beyond this. Below we discuss three additional features that we believe are essential if utilities companies are to deliver exceptional operational efficiencies whilst meeting, or better still, exceeding the expectations of both regulators and customers.
No one understands the underlying operations of your business better than you do. A true field service management SaaS (Software as a Service) provider will ensure that the system you use can be adapted as and when necessary to adjust to changing demands and regulatory movement. From creating new forms, to amending workflows, if you cannot make these amendments yourself, you not only incur cost, but you are also faced with delay; all of which can result in service failures and inefficiency.
The efficiency gains are endless. With constant visibility over your entire service delivery, and the ability to self-manage your software, you can continually hone your operations whilst reacting quickly to whatever changes or demands lie ahead in the utilities sector.
Your maintenance team is likely to look after a large portfolio of assets. When they are managed inefficiently, it’s guaranteed to create problems for your customers, especially when you consider that all of these assets at some point will require planned and/or reactive maintenance. With the right field service management software you will have a central and secure repository for your individual assets. Engineers update asset data in real-time, on site, which then provides an accessible audit trail and far greater visibility of all your assets.
Managing your assets in this way ensures compliance and streamlines the process of scheduling maintenance, ensuring the engineer best equipped for a job, attends to the issue as soon as possible. With a clear view of operational costs and asset performance, your team is in a position where efficiencies can be sought with ease, in one of the most critical areas of your business.
You can take the benefits of standard asset management and maximise their value further by utilising the Internet of Things (IoT). The most important factor for utilities organisations when embracing tech change is to consider what existing technology infrastructure is already in place. A great deal can be achieved with minimal disruption and without overhauling entire systems, which is where IoT sensors come to the fore.
These sensors can be implemented across a fragmented asset portfolio, allowing you to analyse real-time data centrally, in turn bringing back control to your organisation. The real power of these sensors lies in their ability to continually monitor your assets, alerting your team if a problem occurs. In many instances, this can eradicate the need for an engineer to visit a site regularly to carry out maintenance checks. Furthermore, in some scenarios this can be combined with AI and machine learning to predict when an asset is near failure, preventing any potential costly downtime and allowing your team to purely operate using the power of predictive maintenance.
To learn more about how you can utilise a self-service field service management software solution to embrace change and maximise operational performance, book a free demo with our team today.