by John Graff

The use of mobile technology has now become mandatory in the energy sector. Every worker, regardless of their job, is now expected to maintain a certain level of communication and visibility with colleagues, customers, partners and suppliers.

That notion is not easily achieved by desk bound employees, or fixed computer setups. Field service-centric organisations such as utilities, solar installers, and energy infrastructure maintainers understand this more than anyone else – or at least they should. The majority of their workforce spends their days either in a vehicle or on foot in the field, often in remote or rural locations; mobile technologies are the most efficient way to ensure mission-critical data and workflow applications are accessible in real time, at all times.

Yet, a recent seven-country study conducted by Arlington Research on behalf of Xplore partner and Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) firm SOTI found that many CEOs are “‘failing to grasp’ the impact of mobile technology on business practices”. This is highly concerning given that properly-executed mobility solutions are proven to increase worker productivity levels, improve business process efficiency and enable the expansion of service models. In other words, mobile technologies directly impact a company’s ability to introduce – and sustain – new revenue generating streams that can boost their bottom line. A recent Frost & Sullivan report even indicated that CEOs and other executives who have expanded their organisation’s use of mobile technologies are seeing significant returns on their investment.

Why, then, are other CEOs of highly mobile workforces struggling to “understand how vital mobility has become in the basic ‘arsenal’ of business tools”? While I might not understand all that is keeping them from embracing mobility, I do have some advice.

Regardless of why you want to spend on new mobile technologies, make sure you secure executive buy-in for your mobility project before you start shopping for a single mobile device or software solution. As evidenced by SOTI’s research, and reinforced by our own customers’ experiences, it is hard to get anywhere fast without an executive sponsor backing your project and approving your budget.

If you really want to get your project greenlighted quickly, submit a thorough and detailed business case to justify why mobile technologies are essential to achieving the business objectives that they have set forth for your team and the overall company. Clearly articulate how a better quality rugged tablet-based solution, for example, will directly solve your business challenges – such as employee downtime – and mitigate the risk of missed deadlines, quality issues, or costly data input errors during inspection reports. Ask for the KPIs your company uses to assess performance and define success, and show how business process improvements via new mobility solutions line up. And plan to conduct a benefits analysis to support your case. Project sponsors will want to see the value before they sign off on any project.

Remember: 49 per cent of CEOs only care about business mobility when downtime occurs as a result (according to the feedback SOTI received from executives and their employees). By demonstrating the direct, and positive, correlation that a particular mobility solution can have on employee productivity – and the correlation between failing mobile technology and downtime – the odds of executive signoff increase.

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