The Big Benefits of Going Small

Why utilities should embrace a “Lean Startup Mindset” to succeed with the digital transformation

Take the lead or fall behind

The accelerating digital transformation, ongoing energy revolution, and a starting disruption of the industry propels utilities faster and faster into a new data driven future.

Utilities have to make a choice:

  • Being an operator of a commoditized infrastructure and with that face inevitable disruption and neglect in the future energy system


  • Being an operator of a platform for innovation and with this take the driver's seat position in the energy revolution.

Utilities can either take the lead in the ongoing energy revolution, or they will fall behind!

Capitalize the snowball effect or drown in the digital avalanche

Utilities’ digitization gains speed and momentum. The Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Machine Learning or Artificial Intelligence mature quickly. Cloud platform and SaaS offerings challenge established systems vendors and operations models. New business models and innovative services emerge rapidly.

Learning from the most innovative companies in the world or other industries (i.e. Fintech, Retail), speed is “the new black”: Less talk, more action. Less analysis, more trial. Less specification, more prototyping.

Successful companies capitalize the snowball effect of digitization. They embrace a “Lean Startup Mindset” to drive innovation and disruption. They benefit big from going small.

Embrace Lean Startup Mindset

A Lean Startup is a mindset to foster innovation with a heavy focus on quick value generation. It’s a kind of “Success beats Discuss” mindset which understands that the most effective way of using resources is to quickly prototype and validate ideas instead of spending a vast amount of effort in discussions, meetings or analysis work.

Lean startup is a mindset of going small centered around the idea of quickly build a minimum viable product (MVP) and then rapidly learn, gain experience and evolve it.

Applying a Lean Startup Mindset might look scary and strange for utilities. It might require some cultural and organizational change. It might need a management commitment and willingness to fail to drive innovation. It might need to rethink the purchasing processes and financing models to engage with innovative companies and startups. But it definitely will need a different approach to IT and especially integration.

Establish an IT platform with speed in mind

Accelerating the digital transformation by embracing a Lean Startup mindset requires a modern data driven IT infrastructure enabling utilities to benefit from:

  • Short Time to Value
  • Fast Innovation Cycles
  • Low Risk regarding Implementation and Operations
  • High Agility and Speed of Change
  • High Ability to Scale

Utilities have to invest into a modern IT platform which lowers the integration barriers and simplifies to prototype ideas.

Lower Integration barriers

The new paradigm for utilities to lower integration barriers and to speed up development of smart services are so called domain specific Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) or Orchestration-as-a-Service (OaaS) offerings. Innovative companies such as Greenbird deliver with its Metercloud platform configurable business integration applications and a Low Code Customization Environment making it that easy for utilities to solve integration challenges and manage a holistic information flow.

OaaS typically features:

  • Out-of-the-box, yet highly configurable business integration applications to significantly cut implementation time and risk.
  • Pay-as-you-go subscription model to minimize CAPEX and guarantee predictable OPEX
  • Elastic infrastructure to ensure high availability and reliability for platform operations
  • Cloud-native technologies to support hybrid Cloud/On-premise deployments
  • Big Data and artificial intelligence capabilities to enable smart services for the digital utility

Using preconfigured data orchestrations (OaaS) provided by platforms such as Metercloud empowers utilities to embrace a Lean Startup mindset and to take the lead in the ongoing energy revolution.

About the Author

Thorsten Heller is CEO and co-founder of Greenbird Integration Technology. He has extensive international experience in advanced cloud-based software solutions for utilities, with a focus on IoT, big data, real-time analytics and machine learning to empower the smart grid and smart utility of the future.

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