3 Key Elements for a Successful Digital Transformation

The utilities sector is currently undergoing a period of disruption. I have recently attended several utility conferences around the world and the discussions are the same from Bangkok to Birmingham. Speak to any group of utility company professionals and the talk soon turns to the socio-economic and technological trends that are affecting the industry and which are out of the control of utilities. Decentralisation, deregulation, decarbonisation, digitalisation as well as the rise of the prosumer and the effects of blockchain and AI - the external forces impacting utility companies seem to be endless.

The only certainty for utilities is that they have to make a choice. They can either continue to operate a commoditized infrastructure and face an uncertain future, or they can choose to be a platformed digital utility driving innovation in a data-driven future. As business faces tough decisions ahead, the choices they make will determine whether they succeed or fail.

The role of the future distributed energy system is not yet clearly defined. This presents utility companies with a great opportunity; a chance to embrace digitalization. In the data driven energy market of tomorrow, the platformed digital utility will hold the key. Innovation will spring from many sources, not just your organization. It is essential to build the platform that these third parties can connect to. It will be impossible to deliver all the services yourself; you have to become a platform utility. The platform puts digital utilities in the driving seat for the ongoing energy revolution.

Tips for successful Utility IT System Integration

So what does this mean on a practical level? It means that you need a Digital Transformation strategy that supports the information flow to succeed in the new data economy.

The following are key elements to consider within that strategy.

1. Leverage the data you already have.

Utility companies are data rich. The issue for utilities is making use of the data they already have, converting it into useable formats. They are then able to use this in a smart way, enabling them to become innovative and customer focused.

2. Infrastructure must be purpose-built to handle data and integration.

As a digital platformed utility, integration and information will be core to your business today and in the future. Having an infrastructure that is built with modern APIs and is able to support the integration and information flow of future services you will offer will be essential to your business. This means breaking down the data silos that often exist within organisations, integrating the feeds from which the data flows. This will allow you to fully utilise the data that exists within your organisation to create new, valuable services for your customers.

3. Embrace a lean startup mindset.

Think like a startup when you are developing services. The changes facing utility companies are numerous, but the speed of change means that utilities must act quickly. New business models and innovative services emerge rapidly. Utilities must respond by being agile. Rather than spending months analysing, discussing and then launching a product, it means figuring out what the problem is, testing a ‘minimum viable prototype’ (MVP) and then getting feedback quickly and acting upon it to further refine the idea.

Undoubtedly there are huge challenges currently facing utility companies. However, Digital Transformation is not only essential for the sector, it also provides opportunities for these enterprises to become innovative, data-driven utilities accelerating the energy revolution.

Related stories