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Gwen Chen
By
May 29, 2019

App Development Trends in the Energy and Utilities Industries

In the age of digital transformation, mobile apps are becoming increasingly popular in the energy and utilities sector.

Today’s leading energy companies are utilizing mobile apps to facilitate a wide variety of tasks. From streamlining field inspections to tracking equipment and reducing truck roll-outs, mobile apps are improving nearly every aspect of operations. Let’s take a look at today’s top app development trends in this space.

Utilities

Reducing truck roll expenses

Truck roll expenses—or the costs associated with sending a truck out into the field—can be very unpredictable. According to one study, the total cost of a truck roll is over $1,000. Of course, costs can vary from company to company.

Still, whatever the price, truck rolls eat into margins and slow down operations. After all, companies have to maintain their fleets and pay for labor, gas, and insurance. The longer the distance for a call, the higher the cost.

To avoid truck roll expenses, businesses are increasingly using GPS-enabled apps to reduce transit times, thereby streamlining workflows and driving profitability.

Savvy companies are taking map usage one step further by tracking asset locations directly on their maps. For example, Kentucky Power, a large electric company with thousands of utility poles, placed each pole on an interactive map to make it easier for technicians to see their location and condition.

Improving personnel management

Energy and utility companies often have hundreds of employees spread out across a large territory, making communication challenging for managers and HR reps.

Instead of wasting time using a traditional paper filing system, companies are now making apps with mobile timesheet forms, and incident reports, enabling near instantaneous updates using messaging and email.

Apps, it should be noted, are also being used to send and receive contracts on-the-go. For example, a foreman might run into an electrical contractor and want to extend a formal offer for a project. Using an app, a contract can be shared, signed, and completed during a face to face conversation—saving time and preventing opportunities from slipping away.

Tracking inventory

Shipment delays can slow down utility projects significantly. When a part like a light, circuit, or power line needs to be replaced, team members need to be able to quickly send in a ticket and receive a timely response.

In the past, inventory management was done using traditional paper and spreadsheet systems. Today, companies are using apps to request orders and track updates, expediting the process considerably.

Facilitating data collection and sales operations

Collecting accurate customer information while in the field is another major challenge for energy companies.

Traditionally, most companies relied on field service technicians and salespeople using clipboards and paper files to gather customer-specific information, resulting in disorganized and inaccurate data. Just think: Technicians would often have to enter data in the dark, and sometimes during inclement weather. A sheet that takes five minutes to fill out could take a half an hour or more to try and decipher back in the office.

Apps help accelerate field data entry, too. For example, PEG Africa, a solar energy provider operating out of West Africa, uses no-code apps to streamline sales operations and customer data collection. Over 100 sales associates currently use mobile apps to track customer payments, accounting, and sales commissions.

Embracing no-code apps

Energy companies also have to navigate the complexities that come with having various teams of employees, customers, projects, and tools scattered among several worksites—and, in some cases, scattered across several continents.

For example, M&O Partners is a multinational sales hub that connects buyers and suppliers in the offshore oil and gas drilling industry. Recently, the company underwent a massive digital transformation initiative, digitalizing its processes. Today, the company uses no-code apps to streamline project implementation, process management, tool management, and network management.

According to Janis Majors, head of special projects, M&O’s custom apps have saved the company a ton of time and money.

“We are able to track, follow, and participate in hundreds of projects from a centralized location and with a lean team,” Majors says.

Choosing the right apps for your business

No-code apps not only save companies lots of money, they also enable companies to develop apps within a matter of days—as opposed to a matter of months.

It’s important to remember, though, that not all no-code platforms offer the same level of support, flexibility, and customization. Research the market and make sure that the platform you ultimately select aligns with your financial and operational needs. Do your due diligence and you’ll make the right choice.

To learn more reasons why companies are turning to AppSheet’s no-code platform, check this out. Better yet, if you’re ready to speak with our enterprise team to find out how AppSheet can be customized for your business, drop us a line today.

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