The utility value chain is being transformed, and traditional providers are increasingly investing in digital technologies to create an effortless and enhanced customer experience.
FREMONT, CA: As the constructive forces of technology revolutionize the utility industry, leading players are turning to digital technologies to innovate and thrive in the new post-digital era. Firms who do not seize the opportunity to evolve risk being left behind. The sector is being reshaped by forces that have been emerging for more than a decade. From rising costs and changing load patterns to newly viable technologies, regulatory change, and the growing need to reduce its effect on the environment, digitalization is molding the industry, driving it towards a smarter future. Listed below are the multitude of changes that are brought by technologies, driving a paradigm shift in the utility sector, by exploring the exciting opportunities for the industry to plot a digital path to thrive in the future.
• The Use of Trending Technologies
Technological advancements are fueling rapid cost declines, and utilities are looking to leverage sensors, robotics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and internet of things. These technological shifts have pushed in outside players to explore and enter the market resulting in a competitive disruption. However, that is presenting an opportunity for tech-savvy utilities to take advantage of the developments and outperform its competitors.
• Customer-Centric Evolution
Utilities of the future will be forced to develop a greater focus on their customers. Successful players will be those that move from selling energy as a commodity, to having a segmented value proposition focused on customer needs. Utility companies will need to invest in developing customer insight to understand what can bring satisfaction and to identify opportunities for new services.
• Greater Flexibility
The utility grid of the future will witness higher levels of variability fueled by the dispatch of renewable energy sources. Utilities will need to devise a strategy to offset the impact of variable generation from renewable in their business. Depending on the level of integration of the utilities, plans range from incorporating flexible generation assets to teaming up with other utilities or service providers that can cater to the need of modern generation customers.
• Grid modernization
Utility companies’ investment plans to upgrade their grids need to be focused on eliminating capacity constraints and should embrace new technologies. The network of the future has to handle multidirectional power flows, to integrate smart meters, and to capture and report large quantities of data. Therefore, grid investment plans have to employ a wide variety of new technologies, including advanced inverters, grid management and dispatch tools, and grid-level energy storage equipment.
• Disaster Prevention
Smart technologies are increasingly helping utilities to be more sophisticated in taking preventive measures like proactively addressing a power line that is about to fail by monitoring its changing properties, including insulation and conductors. Besides identifying areas of concern, with smart technologies utilities are also better controlling the network and route problems if a failure occurs.
With all of the new developments, the only trend that underpins them all is security. Security needs to be built into all assets, products, and technology. Most importantly, it should never be an afterthought but must be incorporated into an organizations’ core. It plays a fundamental by the processes and policies to protect the systems and data harvested in the sector.
For each utility companies, the above predictions can be applied to create an open innovation culture and advanced operating model that improves the experience for customers.