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NetMotion Wireless Mobile Technology Use in the Utility Industry

NetMotion Wireless Mobile Technology Use in the Utility Industry



NetMotion Wireless Mobile Technology Use in the Utility Industry Benchmarking Study

NetMotion Wireless Mobile Technology Use in the Utility Industry Benchmarking Study



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    NetMotion Wireless Mobile Technology Use in the Utility Industry NetMotion Wireless Mobile Technology Use in the Utility Industry Document Transcript

    • 2010–2011 Benchmarking StudyMOBILE TECHNOLOGY USE INTHE UTILITY INDUSTRYwww.NetMotionWireless.com
    • 2010-2011 BENCHMARKING STUDY - MOBILE TECHNOLOGY USE IN THE UTILITY INDUSTRY2© 2012 NetMotion Wireless, Inc. All rights reserved.Executive SummaryUtility companies are striving to reach new levels of efficiency in the wake of growing competition, leaner budgetsand rising customer expectations. To meet these challenges, forward-looking utilities are deploying mobiletechnologies that increase field productivity and significantly improve customer service.This paper summarizes results of a recent benchmarking survey to senior IT directors and managers from50 leading US utilities on the use of mobile technologies (hardware, software and networking) for wirelessdeployments. Results include data on current technology adoption and future growth plans for 2010 and 2011.Survey results indicate that 70% of utilities have deployed mobile devices to service technicians, 62% to metertechnicians and slightly over half (52%) to line crews. By the close of 2010, based on their forecasts for growth,roughly 90% of field technicians and over 70% of both meter technicians and line crews will use a mobile devicefor their job.All respondents indicated using cellular carrier networks to send and receive data with 60% also using either Wi-Fior satellite networks to complement their carrier service. Roughly 70% of utilities have deployed GIS / mapping andMobile Workforce Management applications to their field crews. In 2010 the utility respondents expect to beginwide spread deployment of CRM and asset management applications.Survey & Research MethodologyGiven the evolutionary changes occurring within the utility industry, the primary goals of this study are to determinehow technology enhances the productivity and operational efficiencies that utilities are striving to reach. Tabulationof the survey results which this report is based upon occurred in February of 2010. The data represents forward-looking technology adoption and growth plans for 2010 and 2011.Research for this study was conducted via a structured, anonymous, online survey. A total of 50 utilities locatedacross the US submitted completed surveys. As an aggregate total of population served, the responding utilitiesprovide electrical power to approximately 37 million households, or roughly 10% of the US population.The survey respondents are senior level IT directors and operations managers responsible for the deployment ofmobile / field technologies (e.g. hardware, software and networking services) for mobile workers.Industry TrendsElectric and power utilities are facing unique challenges that require significant change in order to sustainoperational efficiency. Traceable from the hiring freezes and downsizing in the 1990s, industry deregulationfocused utilities on cost-cutting measures in order to make operations leaner in the face of growing competition.In addition, with little turnover in the industry, and promotions often made from within, an influx of new workers hasbeen very limited.The result of these industry changes has created significant strains upon the utility worker infrastructure. Manyutilities have seen a slow but steady loss of industry knowledge due to an aging and retiring workforce. Accordingto the Bureau of Labor Statistics, electric power industry workers are older than the national average (averageutility employee is nearly 44 years old), and the median age will continue to increase over the next 25 years. Forthe utility industry as a whole, over 150,000 employees fall in the 55-to-64 age range, and another 26,000employees are 65+.
    • 2010-2011 BENCHMARKING STUDY - MOBILE TECHNOLOGY USE IN THE UTILITY INDUSTRY3© 2012 NetMotion Wireless, Inc. All rights reserved.A study conducted by the National Rural Electric CooperativeAssociation (NRECA) showed that over 60% of linesuperintendents are age 50 or older. The study also raisedconcerns that there is no end in sight to the continued agingof the utility workforce and reduction in maintainable technicalknowledge. Lastly, the American Public Power Association(APPA) reached similar conclusions regarding the decline ofexpert workers in their report, “Work Force Planning for PublicPower Utilities: Ensuring Resources to Meet Projected Needs.”The continuing loss of such a large number of specialized utilityprofessionals, whose training and expertise ensures both utilityperformance and safety, represents a growing quandary for thepower industry.In juxtaposition, younger workers that are entering the utilityindustry frequently lack the knowledge of senior workers, butare technically savvier and expect to use technology to performtheir job functions. As addressed in APPA’s study, utilities thatare not providing enabling technology tools will likely findit more difficult to recruit new workers and may see theiroperational efficiencies fall. In addition, the same technologytools if implemented, can act as a repository to ensure thatknowledge from senior workers is not lost but instead stored and made available to the entire field force.The convergence of these challenges and opportunities has led many forward-thinking utilities to deploy mobiletechnologies as strategic and competitive differentiators. As this study will show, these organizations have quicklyrealized a return on their investment, enhanced worker productivity, and improved their level of customer supportand service.Survey ResultsThe 50 utilities that responded to the survey answered a series of questions surrounding their mobile deployments.Follow-up phone interviews occurred with some respondents to ensure accuracy of information.Survey results with explanations are separated into the following sections:• Mobile Deployment Overview• Mobile device use by worker type• Mobile device numbers – current / growth plan• Types of mobile devices – current / growth plan• Mobile data network use• Mobile access to applications – current / growth plan• Mobile VPN DeploymentAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, electric powerindustry workers are older than the national average, and themedian age will continue to increase over the next 25 years.
    • 2010-2011 BENCHMARKING STUDY - MOBILE TECHNOLOGY USE IN THE UTILITY INDUSTRY4© 2012 NetMotion Wireless, Inc. All rights reserved.Mobile Deployment OverviewMobile Device Use by Worker TypeSurvey responses indicate mobile devices suchas laptops, tablets or handheld computers aredeployed primarily to service technicians, metertechnicians and line crews.These technician groups together areresponsible for inspection, maintenance andrepair of electromechanical and electronicmeters and equipment that measure customerconsumption of electricity or gas. They’reresponsible for turning meters on or off toestablish or end service. They may rebuild,remove, repair, adjust, or change meters andregulators; trace and tag meters or house lines,or replace metering devices. They verify wiringand meter accuracy and investigate the causesof commercial or residential problems.These technicians use mobile devices forservice automation and to obtain work ordersand customer site information in the field. Following on-site inspection, service establishment or disconnect,collection, or repair, technicians can record activities and close work orders in real time. Reporting can also behandled from the job site, allowing field workers to spend more time in the field and less time in the office.Survey responses indicate:• 70% have deployed mobile devices to their service technician teams• 62% to meter technicians• Slightly over half (52%) to line crews.Many new groups that previously did not have mobile devices are now using them for better work ordermanagement. These include:• Digging / new construction teams (37%) who handle new power line development• Street light servicing crews (12%) that ensure street lights are functioning properly• Tree crews (10%) who trim or remove tree branches that pose a risk of touching or damaging power linesOver 20% of respondents also indicated that “other” groups within their utility organization use mobile devices fordaily work functions. Field workers included in the other category include: substation inspectors, circuit reliabilitycoordinators, general engineers and supervisors. One utility respondent added that they are beginning to equiptheir general office staff with laptops. Doing so allowed office personnel to work remotely if necessary due toinclement weather or natural disaster.Which groups within your organization usemobile devices for their job functions?0% 20% 40% 60% 80%Service TechniciansMeter TechniciansLine CrewsDigging/Construction CrewsOthers (Please specify)Street Light Servicing CrewsTree Crews
    • 2010-2011 BENCHMARKING STUDY - MOBILE TECHNOLOGY USE IN THE UTILITY INDUSTRY5© 2012 NetMotion Wireless, Inc. All rights reserved.Mobile Device Numbers - CurrentNearly half of the respondents (45%) said that mobile devices aredeployed to between 100 and 500 mobile workers. The remainingrespondents fall to either side of the deployment spectrum with 25%deployed to less than 100 and 25% deployed to between 500 and1,000 workers. The remaining 5% have seen widespread adoptionwith over 1,000 workers using mobile devices. These organizationsare moving beyond deploying to just field staff and are findingthe value in enabling all workers to have remote access to office /database resources.Mobile Device Numbers - Growth PlanFuture growth plans show that nearly all utilities will deploy mobile devices to new groups within their organizationsover the course of 2010. Nearly 20% of organizations will add service technician teams that previously did not havemobile access and 15% of new line crews will receivemobile devices this year. By year end, nearly 90% ofthe responding utilities will have deployed mobiledevices to their service technicians, over 70% tometer technicians and nearly 70% to line crews.In addition, 22% of responding organizationsindicated the expansion into “other” groups thathistorically did not receive laptops. These includegeneral management and customer support staff sothat they could login from home or remote locations.Some utilities responded that any worker whointeracted with their workforce management solutionshould use a laptop as there is a high probability thattheir work requires some field activities.Types of Mobile Devices - CurrentMost utilities (94%) indicate that their mobileworkers use ruggedized laptops. Typical brands/types mentioned include Panasonic Toughbook,General Dynamics GoBook, and Dell Latitude D series.Organizations that used handheld computers (32%)primarily deployed the Intermec CN3 and Trimblehandhelds. Responding utilities using tablets (30%)typically chose Panasonic Toughbook H1 Field or MotionComputing ruggedized tablets. Several organizationsindicated beginning tests of Lenovo netbooks as alow cost option to meet the needs for some workers.Lastly, for voice communication and limited applicationaccess, 30% of utility respondents deployed Blackberryhandsets.0%20%40%60%80%100%Laptop HandheldComputerTablet Netbook SmartphoneWhat types of devices do your mobile workers use?(Check all that apply)45%25%5%25%100 to 500500 to 1000More than 1000Less than 100How many workers in your organization areusing mobile devices for their job function?In 2010 what new groups will receive mobile devices?0%5%10%15%20%25%Service techniciansMeter techniciansTree crewsLine crewsDigging/Construction crewsStreet light servicing crewsOther (please specify)
    • 2010-2011 BENCHMARKING STUDY - MOBILE TECHNOLOGY USE IN THE UTILITY INDUSTRY6© 2012 NetMotion Wireless, Inc. All rights reserved.Types of Mobile Devices - Growth PlanIn 2010, respondents plan to increase the number ofdevices deployed to field workers across the board. Over80% said they will add more ruggedized laptops to theirfield worker groups, such as Panasonic Toughbooks.Roughly 35% plan to deploy tablet devices such asthe Panasonic H1 Field and Motion Computing tablets.Growth in both handhelds and smartphones appearsto diminish slightly for the rest of 2010. And severalorganizations will continue testing netbooks throughoutthe remainder of the year.Mobile Data Network UseAs field workers spend their workday traversing both urban and rural areas servicing households and businesses,they access information via carrier networks. All utilities involved in the survey have service agreements with atleast one of the major public wireless providers: AT&T, Sprint or Verizon Wireless. In many cases, due to the largegeographic area they cover, utilities have multiple carrier agreements to ensure optimum connectivity.Nearly half of the respondents (45%) tied in to available Wi-Fi networks as a way to boost data throughput speedsand enable faster download and upload of information. These Wi-Fi networks are a combination of publically-owned and accessible hotspots as well as privately owned points run by the individual utility. Respondents said thisis a helpful option especially for handling larger GIS and mapping files which most field workers need access tothroughout the day.A smaller percentage of utilities, roughly 15%, accessdata via satellite network connection. Although theseutilities rely on carrier networks for the bulk of day-to-day data access, the remote locations where their crewssometimes work make satellite the only viable option.In 2010, what new device(s) will you introduce for yourworkers? (Check all that apply)0%20%40%60%80%100%Laptop HandheldComputerTablet Netbook SmartphoneWhat mobile data networks do your mobile workerscurrently use?| (Check all that apply)0%20%40%60%80%100%Carrier Network Wi-Fi Network Satellite
    • 2010-2011 BENCHMARKING STUDY - MOBILE TECHNOLOGY USE IN THE UTILITY INDUSTRY7© 2012 NetMotion Wireless, Inc. All rights reserved.Mobile Access to Applications - CurrentSeventy percent of responding utilities indicated they have deployed GIS / mapping and Mobile WorkforceManagement (MWM) applications to their field workers. The most widely used GIS / mapping application wasESRI ArcGIS. A few utilities have also opted for internal in-house application development or other off-the-shelfmapping products.Survey results show many different MWM applications in use. Some of the more frequently mentioned productsinclude: Oracle and SAPs MWM suites, IBM’s Maximo, Ventyx, ViryaNet, and Syclo. About 30% of utilities employin-house software developers that work closely with their field crews to understand their ongoing businessrequirements and write customized applications accordingly.Applications for better fleet/asset management or CRM are also in field service environments. With access to thesenew data resources, many workers now spend little time in the office and can conduct business primarily from the field.Mobile Access to Applications - GrowthAll utilities plan to rollout new applications for their field workers. The largest growth in new application deploymentis expected in asset management and CRM. Approximately 35% of the utilities indicated they will introduce theseapplications to field workers during 2010. Nearly 20% of utilities will introduce new fleet management tools androughly an equivalent number will add on GIS & mapping capabilities making GIS access at 90% for organizationssurveyed. MWM applications are expected to approach 80% penetration of surveyed utilities during 2010.In addition to job-specific applications, most utilities have enabled mobile workers to have access to the Internetand email. Survey results indicate that 85% of the utilities are providing their field crews with access to corporateemail accounts and 70% had general Internet access available.Mobile VPN DevelopmentUtility respondents deployed a mobile VPN in order to enhance the productivity of their mobile workers and tosolve specific challenges that occurred in their deployments. Key reasons cited for choosing a mobile VPN:• Network Roaming – 45% said that enabling network roaming was a key factor for the success of their mobiledeployment. Responding companies indicated a mobile VPN allows end users to seamlessly roam betweenmultiple network types (carrier, Wi-Fi and in some cases satellite networks) without intervention.2009200920092009 2009201020102010201020100%10%20%30%40%50%60%70%80%90%100%Asset Management CRM Fleet Management GIS & Mapping Mobile WorkforceManagement
    • 2010-2011 BENCHMARKING STUDY - MOBILE TECHNOLOGY USE IN THE UTILITY INDUSTRY8© 2012 NetMotion Wireless, Inc. All rights reserved.• Application Persistence – 27% indicated that intermittent network coverage throughout the workday causedapplication crashes and lost data. Utilities used the capabilities of a mobile VPN to “persist” applicationsthrough periods of lost connectivity to solve this problem.• Security – 15% said that their primary reason for deploying a mobile VPN was to ensure security over datatraffic to and from the mobile devices. Mobile VPN’s use AES encryption which meets the requirements forFERC/NERC compliance.• Management Control – 13% said that they needed a centralized management tool to manage, monitor andcontrol their mobile deployment. Administrators used the mobile VPN’s management console to have asystem-wide view of all the devices connected to their network.Utilities deploying a mobile VPN also realized significant business / operational benefits. Nearly 100% of utilitiessaw a drop in IT support needed to solve mobile deployment related problems. Over 70% said that their fieldworkers became more productive and could complete more work orders per day. Almost all utilities (92%) found thedeployment of a mobile VPN to be either “Very Important” or “Important” for the success of their mobile deployment.ConclusionTo remain competitive and see continued top line growth, utilities must identify innovative ways to increasethe efficiency and productivity of one of their most valuable resources – their field workers. As the frontline forcustomer service, providing field workers with tools that enable them to accomplish tasks more effectively willultimately ensure the viability of the company.As the survey results demonstrate, utilities that deploy mobile technologies realize significant value as measured by:• more work orders completed per day,• increase in ease of use of mobile devices,• decreased IT support needs,• better management of field-based workers / assets; and• enhanced security to comply with industry requirements and standards.Over the remainder of 2010 and 2011, the utilities involved in this study indicate continuing to invest in devicesand applications to support mobile initiatives. They will enable more workers to take a “wherever, whenever”approach to help them stay connected regardless of location. This will fuel continued enhancements in productivity,improvements in customer service and leadership within the utility industry.For More InformationFor more information about NetMotion Wireless, please visit www.NetMotionWireless.com.
    • FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT US:www.NetMotionWireless.comUnited StatesSeattle, WashingtonTelephone: (206) 691-5500Toll Free: (866) 262-7626sales@netmotionwireless.comEuropeGermany and Francecentraleasterneurope@netmotionwireless.comUnited Kingdomnortherneurope@netmotionwireless.com© 2012 NetMotion Wireless, Inc. All rights reserved. NetMotion® is a registered trademark, and NetMotion Wireless Locality™, Mobility XE®, Roamable IPSec™, InterNetworkRoaming™, Best-Bandwidth Routing™ and Analytics Module™ are trademarks of NetMotion Wireless, Inc. Microsoft®, Microsoft Windows®, Active Directory®, ActiveSync®, InternetExplorer®, Windows Mobile®, Windows Server®, Windows XP®, SQL Server®, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition® and Windows Vista® are registered trademarks of MicrosoftCorporation. All other trademarks, trade names or company names referenced herein are used for identification purposes only and are the property of their respective owners.NetMotion Wireless technology is protected by one or more of the following US Patents: 5,717,737; 6,198,920; 6,418,324; 6,546,425; 6,826,405; 6,981,047; 7,136,645; 7,293,107;7,574,208; 7,602,782; 7,644,171; 7,778,260 and Canadian Patent 2,303,987. Other US and foreign patents pending.