Zebra Study: Real-Time Data Access is Critical for Energy, Utilities Field Workers

Rapid adoption of rugged mobile devices and tablets expected over the next five years

SYDNEY, Australia – Mar. 17, 2020  – Zebra Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ: ZBRA), an innovator at the edge of the enterprise with solutions and partners that enable businesses to gain a performance edge, today announced study findings that indicate energy and utilities companies across the world will accelerate investments in mobile technologies to empower their front-line workers in the field.

According to 85 percent of respondents to the Future of Field Operation vision study, real-time data access is vital to the successful execution of mission-critical workflows in the energy and utilities industry. The results are part of a three-part report led by Zebra which is showcasing its purpose-built solutions for front-line energy and utilities workers this week at the DISTRIBUTECH International conference and exhibition.

“Mobile technology is critical in maintaining the uninterrupted operations that customers expect from their water, electricity and fuel supply service providers,” said Alex Cooper, Director of Government and Critical Field Service Strategy, Zebra Technologies. “To perform at their best, front-line workers must be able to rely on mobile communications to get their jobs done effectively and safely. Our study shows that as energy and utilities organizations progress along their digital transformation initiatives, they will increasingly deploy mobile technologies to give workers access to real-time data in the field.”

The study showed that 73 percent of respondents working in energy and utilities consider their companies to be a mobile-first organization. This aligns with their strategy to transform their operations to become Digital energy or Digital utilities enterprises, leveraging mobile devices to shift from reactive to proactive, predictive, and even prescriptive service models.

Mobile device usage has helped the majority of respondents drive increased productivity in their field operations, 75 percent agree that mobile technology will lead to improved worker job satisfaction within the next year. These positive results in both worker performance and sentiment are now driving a significant increase in the utilization of mobile devices and applications in mission-critical field operations workflows. Today, only 26 percent of companies equip more than half of their field team with mobile technology. Respondents say this is projected to grow to 43 percent of energy and utilities companies by 2025.

The study explored the deployment and usage trends in the field. When equipping field workers, ruggedized devices are the top choice for energy and utilities companies. Today, nearly 50 percent of companies have adopted rugged tablets, and this will jump to 80 percent in the next year.  An even higher number of respondents say their companies will use rugged smartphones in the next five years, with 93 percent indicating their mobile strategy will leverage these purpose-built handheld devices for their workers in the field.

Among the most common features found on mobile devices, 66 percent of respondents rank mapping and navigation as “extremely important” in day-to-day operations. Access to databases in real-time came in second with 63 percent followed by email functionality with 62 percent of respondents ranking this as a top priority.


  • Over the next five years, the number of companies that will equip more than half of their field technicians with mobile devices will grow by 17 percentage points to reach 43 percent.
  • Respondents indicate that the deployment of ruggedized tablets and rugged-built mobile devices in the field will see stronger growth than their consumer-grade counterparts over the next five years.
  • Ranked in order of importance by users, the key applications found on mobile devices are mapping and navigation, real-time access to databases, and email.
  • These insights were gathered from a three-part Future of Field Operations vision study led by Zebra which is showcasing its purpose-built solutions for front-line energy and utilities workers this week at booth #3959 at the DISTRIBUTECH International conference and exhibition.



The results are part of a three-part series on the Future of Field Operations that will be released over the first half of 2020. Upcoming installments in this series will focus on public safety and telecommunications service providers. More than 1,200 key decision makers from these three industries located across the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific were surveyed.



Zebra (NASDAQ: ZBRA) empowers the front line of business in retail/e-commerce, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, healthcare, public sector and other industries to achieve a performance edge. With more than 10,000 partners across 100 countries, we deliver industry-tailored, end-to-end solutions that intelligently connect people, assets, and data to help our customers make business-critical decisions. Our market-leading solutions elevate the shopping experience, track and manage inventory as well as improve supply chain efficiency and patient care. In 2019, Zebra ranked #166 on Forbes’ list of the World’s Best Employers, and the company joined the S&P 500 index. For more information, visit www.zebra.com or sign up for our news alerts. Follow us on our Your Edge Blog along with LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook

Media Contact:  

Jeremy Tse
+61 434 485 567

Luke Turner
+61 439 585 578


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