Digital and Data: The Challenges and Opportunities for Utilities
The Utilities industry is facing unprecedented challenges. Customers are demanding a premium consumer experience from their providers across a variety of digital channels. Their demands require suppliers to ensure that their customer experience is as smooth as possible and this, in turn, requires the optimisation of front and back-end technologies.
All this requires significant investment, significant planning and efficient implementation. In balance to this investment in digital transformation, there is a clear need to ensure these solutions are also mitigating potential cybersecurity threats.
Utilities clearly understand that to keep their customers happy; they can do so by tapping into digital and cloud-based services and offer a better user experience. However, there are other areas of the business that could benefit from being upgraded. These include grid operations, back-office systems, and supply chain management that would also benefit from digitally driven efficiencies.
The Challenges and Opportunities
According to recent research, utilities suppliers are focused on both optimising their current technologies whilst also exploring new ones; for instance, driving decisions with data and moving to the cloud.
Customer service is also at the top of the list, with a need to focus on efficiency in dealing with customer. In addition, cybersecurity enhancements are a common goal alongside bringing in more innovation into daily operations. Also like many sectors, utilities are commonly restricted by tight budgets and a lack of resources to dedicate to technology.
This lack of resources means that many utilities companies must optimise the technology assets they already have. When IT decision-makers in the sector were asked where they need the most help in the past year with their technology, half of them stated that optimising current products was a priority.
But that’s not to say utilities aren’t looking at the opportunities for new technologies. Like most industries, many want help with exploring new products and assistance in implementing new technologies.
In particular, the following technologies are expected to continue to impact the industry in the next year, analytics/dashboards, internet of things (IoT), and conversational user interfaces.
This makes sense as one of the great challenges of Utilities companies is encouraging customer retention in a market where their services are considered by many customers as being 'Just electricity/gas/water' which results in a challenge of being compared to competitors simply on cost.
It is only when customers can be provided a clear differentiator in the form of user experience and customer service that they will be more likely to stay with their current provider regardless of a variation in cost.
Like most businesses today, utilities companies know there is value in the data they already have - some of them are potentially struggling to make the most use of it. Driving better decision-making through understanding data is without doubt high on their list of priorities.
Big data, in particular, is both a big challenge and opportunity for the industry as it utilises uses more connected devices that continually collect information day and night.
The smart grid, smart meters and IoT devices are all generating large volumes of data. However, for this data to drive value, these customers need analytics, dashboards, and reporting to consolidate information and surface important insights.
It is safe to say that the Utilities sector has a huge amount of opportunity in the coming years and it will be those suppliers who digitally transform and effect business change through their IT systems and data democratisation that will succeed over their competitors.
Techolony are specialists in Defining, Designing and Delivering Digital Transformation solutions.