The energy and utilities (E&U) industry has always been synonymous with reliability and resilience. With the advent of the information age, utility companies are prime for a radical transformation of the way they think and operate. Over the past few years, the energy and utilities industry has witnessed some fundamental disruptions, quietly reshaping and evolving the industry and driving it to a new future.
From a massive push towards clean and sustainable energy, to providing innovative products and services for the ever-changing customer needs and consumption behavior, disruptive forces are shaping the future of the E&U industry. By using the right technology solution and digital tools based on Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Machine Learning, Advanced analytics, Reality technologies, and Cloud, etc. utility companies are not only transforming themselves but are also leading the disruption.
In the last century or so the energy and utility industry has evolved tremendously, and today this technology (r)evolution within the E&U industry, termed Energy 4.0, has enabled the industry to focus on the following areas: Digitalization, Decentralization, Sustainability, and Innovation. There are countless success stories of technology and digital transformation in various industries under the umbrella of Industry 4.0; taking a cue, utilities are now adopting these technology-driven digital initiatives.
Figure 1: Evolution of energy and utilities industry
From generation to customer retail and services, Energy 4.0 offers numerous opportunities all along the energy and utilities value chain, creating a smarter ecosystem spanning across processes (P) and services, assets (A) owned and/or managed by the utility, the end consumers (C) or the rate buyers, and finally the utility employees (E) and workforce.
Figure 2: Energy 4.0 - P. A. C. E, creating a smarter energy and utilities ecosystem
From smart workforce applications in the field to mobile applications enabling end-users to track and control their energy consumption, this digital revolution (Energy 4.0) is increasing operational efficiency, providing a safer learning and working environment, and improving the customer experience at the same time.
In a Deloitte survey offered to around 81 C-suite executives from the energy and utility sector across the globe, 56% of the respondents quoted their key priority while going forth as "Implement a holistic digital initiative (from generation to distributed energy management) to drive overall productivity/profitability."
The potential of the opportunities that Energy 4.0 unlocks across the ecosystem is best realized when aligned with the utility’s business objectives, namely – operational efficiency, sustainability, training and safety, customer services and experience, and innovation.
Multiple digital/technology tools are available that help utilities increase their operational efficiency, such as, Robotic process automation (RPA), data analytics, digital twins, smart contracts, etc. These powerful digital solutions help utilities to achieve productivity improvements and process optimization across the value chain for example through RPAs utilities can free their workforce for more productive and value-adding tasks. Similarly, through data analytics and decision support systems, utilities can optimally control their conventional and renewable sources of generation.
The industry estimates such digital initiatives could boost profitability significantly.
(At Nagarro, we have been able to realize up to 30% efficiency gains for our clients with various digital initiatives and solutions)
Utilities around the world are focusing on creating a sustainable ecosystem wherein not only they are focusing on sustainable and clean energy production and consumption but also are creating the societies more sustainable by providing products and services like DERs and microgrid setups and giving options to select green energy for consumption. With the advent of e-mobility for both personal and public transit systems and connected smart buildings, utilities are helping create smart cities. With these technology-backed initiatives, utilities are achieving their sustainability goals while creating a better tomorrow for the new generation.
Training and safety
Digital tools like online digital academy, reality tech or 3D simulation systems for training and learning platforms have enabled the utilities to improve the workforce skills and achieve productivity gains. Additionally, these learning platforms help in retaining the expertise and knowledge for newer generation of workforce. Besides, wearable tech has made it increasingly possible for utilities to employ various safety and health monitoring solutions at scale to improve worker safety.
Customer services and experience
With so much data available through smart meters, various connected devices, and EVs, etc., utilities practically sit on a data gold mine. However, the million-dollar question is to get insights from that data and utilize it to improve customer experience.
This is where utilities can leverage big data and advanced analytics technologies to better understand their customers and get actionable insights for personalized product and service offerings like rebate programs, dynamic pricing, e-mobility solutions, promotions on smart devices, etc.
Through unified omnichannel customer support platform utilities can significantly improve the customer experience.
Innovation - Pushing new frontiers
The future is already here and with DERs, smart cities, smart homes, and e-mobility etc., technology is changing how we consume energy, interact with our surroundings and move around. Additionally, Environmental, Social, and Governmental (ESG) factors towards reducing carbon footprints are also paving way for advanced technologies to generate sustainable energy and provide innovative products and services.
Nagarro can help you to be at the forefront of the innovation through our unique innovation framework. Click to read more.
The road ahead
We have realized by now, that utilities need to imbibe digital transformation and embrace new technologies to grow and stay relevant. This needs to be done at the enterprise level, with a culture of continuous innovation embedded within the organizational DNA. Once the digital transformation vision for your organization is holistically brainstormed and aligned with your business objectives, the next step is to successfully execute this vision into reality.
Having worked with diverse energy and utilities customers for decades, Nagarro brings immense domain and technical expertise, along with a culture of innovation that makes us the strategic partner of choice to co-create and realize your digital transformation vision.
Based on our experience in the industry following could be a typical roadmap of such digital transformation engagements over varying periods of time.
Note: The above is a non-exhaustive list for illustrative purposes only
To learn more about Energy 4.0 and the benefits it brings to your organization, reach out to us.