What is integration?

Integration is the process of combining different parts of an organization or system into a single, cohesive entity.

Integration in a Tech Setting

While the term ‘integration’ is used in many different business situations, in a tech setting, integration is the process of connecting different data applications, APIs, and devices across an organization.

The ultimate goal is to have a single, cohesive system that functions seamlessly as a unified entity, including across IT and OT domains.

Business Integration in Utilities

To illustrate why tech integration is so key, it’s useful to explore the similarities with business integration. Organizations often combine departments or systems so they can work more effectively together to achieve common goals. Integrating departments can provide a better service to customers in a more efficient way.

For example, a DSO may offer multiple utility services to its customers, including electricity, water, wastewater, natural gas and telecommunications. Some operations, such as billing and metering, overlap and could be combined. The DSO may roll out a single 24-hour emergency call center for all its customers. In this way, integration delivers a leaner, more efficient operation that benefits both customers and the utility. Integration in a tech setting can achieve the same benefits.

System Integration in Utilities

The goal of system integration is to ensure that all subsystems or components work together seamlessly to enable automated and digitized processes and services that define a modern operational landscape. This includes the integration of different utility software and applications, such as smart metering systems, ADMS, SCADA, GIS, and customer care and billing or ERP systems.

Integration and Digital Transformation

Integration is crucial for digital transformation. In today’s energy and business environment, it’s now fundamental to utility operations. Without integration, utilities cannot realize automated processes or integrated digital services that are needed to drive the energy transition. A modern IT architecture and effective integration enable utilities to rapidly react to new regulations and market changes, adapting their IT, operations and business to the new landscape. Why? Because with integration, systems can operate as a single, cohesive entity.

But integration not only connects, it adds value. When you connect different systems, you deliver new functionalities. For example, system integration can enable utilities to:

  1. Improve data accuracy: By integrating metering systems and distribution systems, utilities can access accurate real-time data on energy consumption, demand, and supply. They can then use this information to optimize their operations.
  2. Enhance customer service: By integrating customer information systems, utilities have a comprehensive view of their customers' energy usage patterns, preferences, and needs. Utilities can use this data to provide personalized services and improve customer satisfaction.
  3. Increase system reliability: By integrating different utility systems and communication networks, utilities improve system reliability, reduce downtime, and respond more quickly to outages or other system failures.

System integration helps utilities manage their complex infrastructure and operate more efficiently. But it also enables them to adapt quickly to changing market conditions and to become more customer-centric. It is only through effective system integration that utilities can achieve the digital transformation they need to operate in today’s constantly evolving energy landscape.

Related stories