Technology has always been central to power and utilities, but how has the digitization of the 21st century changed the industry? It’s no longer the technology of the future; it’s the technology of the moment. Unfortunately, it hasn’t yet made the full transition into all areas of the industry. The good news is that it’s changing quickly.
Some companies call themselves digital leaders while not really committing to it with significant investment. There’s a lot of ambition and excitement in the power sector, but vision, investment, and culture are lagging.
The industry is changing and to keep up with the competition, power and utility markets are going digital. Mobile customer engagement and data mining are crucial, but it goes beyond that.
Improvements through Digital Technology
New trends such as smart grids, renewable, and distributed generation require the use of new technologies and new business models. Modern technologies can infiltrate many areas of the industry from generation to customer service.
Digital technologies will affect:
- Electrical grids
- Power generation and distribution
- Connected homes and businesses
- Workforce processes
- Customer relations
Tech companies have changed customer expectations, which filters into other sectors including power and utilities. Flexibility and convenience have been natural byproducts of the digital age. In the power industry, mobile applications, online accounts and bill paying, smart homes, and energy analytics have already been incorporated. Predictive maintenance, home security, and drones are increasing in importance.
Pillars of Digital Transformation
There are six pillars on which a power and utilities digital transformation may be built. Digital transformation can be implemented through:
- New products and business models
- Customer relationships
- Data and IT infrastructure
- Organization and governance
- Digital culture and change management
A digital transformation can improve power generation, transmission and distribution, and customer service in a variety of ways:
- Digitized assets: Improved reliability, refined outage planning, lower maintenance costs, and predicting asset issues
- Operations optimization: Advanced analytics, grid optimization, utility orchestration, and workforce improvements
- Security and safety: Reduce cyber-attacks, address vulnerabilities, and improve regulatory compliance
- Business advantages: Drive revenue, grid modernization systems, improved purchasing decisions, and predict output
- Consumers: Analytics and software connect lighting, sensors, and energy management; reduce costs, improve efficiency, smart buildings and cities, digital services, lower energy consumption
Implementing a Digital Strategy
First, assess the state of the current strategy by asking questions about how your ambition matches up with competitors, sufficient investment, planning and initiatives, the necessary capabilities, and culture change.
A digital transformation strategy will likely include the following steps:
- Identify ways to leverage digital technologies in each pillar (i.e., new products, operations, etc.)
- Determine the best practices to achieve the goals and work out a schedule
- Determine the current, target, and projected digital maturity for each lever
- Meet with management to review goals and priorities
- Identify the necessary initiatives and projects to achieve success
- Regularly monitor the progress of each project and how they match expectations
Technology and Training
Another area in which the digital transformation can be a powerful, beneficial force is in training. Power and utilities companies employ a huge staff in different departments with different duties, skills, and compliance requirements. Keeping track of who needs what training when can be a major headache.
Online training is the best way to address a myriad of skill development needs, especially with employees in different locations. Find an online library of compliance solutions that cover a variety of subject areas. Digital technology is also helpful to customize, manage, and track employee training and development.
Digital and internet technologies have reached into nearly every area of human activity. The power and utilities industry is no different. Some utilities companies have yet to make the digital leap, but they will have to if they want to keep up with the pace of change.
To ensure your team is informed, skilled, and prepared for the next transformation, visit 360training.com and browse the power and utilities compliance solutions. Online training libraries and convenient learning management systems can make your compliance initiatives easy and efficient.