In the utilities sector, as in many others, the road toward digital transformation has been slow. Organizations spent plenty of time discussing technologies that could streamline operations, engage customers, and transform service delivery — but few utilities made meaningful progress. Then, the first cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) appeared.

Unprecedented times called for unprecedented measures, often in the form of technology. Utilities quickly embraced new digital solutions once the pandemic forced back-office employees to work from home and field workers to distance. And in 2020 alone, some utilities providers have made more progress toward digital transformation than they had for years prior.

As the pandemic continues to place new demands on the industry and the benefits of digital transformation in utilities become more apparent, numerous tech-driven solutions will come online. Utilities will look for ways to facilitate collaboration, improve accessibility and drive revenue during lean times. Much of the focus will be on back-office and customer-facing improvements, but it would be a grave mistake to exclude the frontline workforce from the transformation happening before our eyes.

Utility companies understand better than anyone the crucial and difficult job that field workers play. However, these workers are often the lowest priority in terms of digital transformation, and many still rely on clipboards and checklists to carry out their work.

Inflexible legacy systems and IT architecture are blocking fresh technology from evolving in the field, as many utilities rely on IT infrastructure that was designed and deployed years (if not decades) ago. And while older IT is harder to use, difficult to integrate with new tools and less powerful in the face of massive data volumes, updating it requires a massive investment that could be difficult to justify.

Read the full article about utility jobs by Cristian Grossmann at Smart Cities Dive.