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Deloitte Global report explores emerging technologies poised to disrupt utility industry
NEW YORK, NY, USA, 20 NOV 2017 — A new Deloitte Global report released today, “Disrupting the utility”, explores emerging technologies which seem poised to potentially reshape the utilities industry over the next several years and provides considerations to utility executives seeking to leverage these technologies.
The report discusses how utilities can sift through the noise surrounding emerging technologies to focus on solutions offering real potential in the near future, and to identify technologies that may be better to monitor for now.
“With entire communities—sometimes nations—relying on utilities for essential day-to-day functions, experimenting with new technologies is a high-stakes endeavor,” said Felipe Requejo, Deloitte Global Power & Utilities leader. “Utilities can’t afford to chase every hot new technology down a rabbit hole. But transformation will likely be needed to drive the competitive advantage new technologies can bring, and many leading organizations are already seeking out these opportunities.”
“Disrupting the utility,” identifies the following four trends which utilities should consider as they have the potential to truly reshape the utility industry in the next several years:
In a business climate where emerging technologies and rapid-fire innovation can quickly render established strategies and business models obsolete and, at the same time, give rise to potentially transformative opportunities, there can be no disconnect between IT and the business. In an unbounded IT organization, IT should think beyond their own experiences and domain expertise and work with business units to identify applications for new technologies, both internally and externally.
For example, take the range of applications to be derived from sensors, Internet-of-Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI). With the data collected via IoT from smart meters, many utilities are offering not only enhanced customer service but are providing entirely new services like energy efficiency advising. Using sensors, customers are monitoring home temperatures and energy use. Predictive analytics enabled by AI is helping leading enterprises optimize operational efficiency in fixed assets, such as grid operations, and improve the overall performance of the utility.
The possibilities for innovation using these technologies throughout the entirety of the utility are limitless once freed from the boundaries of the IT department.
Machine Intelligence (MI) seems to represent the next chapter in the advanced analytics journey and presents tremendous opportunities for both utility’s customer and asset bases.
For example, MI is enabling more sophisticated customer engagement. Customer related manual processes are being automated, such as invoicing and correcting addresses. Furthermore, the ability to compute consumers’ every touch point and the data generated via smart metering is enabling MI to develop insights on consumption habits – enabling targeted campaigns, enhancing the ability to detect fraud, managing billing expectations, and eventually, predicting energy load and the micromanaging of power delivery.
MI potential on the asset side is also vast. The abundance of information generated from assets, when filtered through MI, can provide a wide range of cost-savings and operational efficiencies.
Organizations are overhauling their landscapes by combining open source, open standards, virtualization, and containerization. Moreover, they are leveraging automation aggressively, taking steps to couple existing and new platforms more loosely, and often embracing a “cloud first” mind-set. These steps, taken individually or as part of larger transformation initiatives, are part of an emerging trend that some see as inevitable: the standardization of a flexible architecture model that drives efficiency, reduces hardware and labor costs, and foundationally supports speed, flexibility, and rapid outcomes.
When it comes to cloud, many utilities have taken steps like moving systems such as email to the cloud. But to remain competitive, particularly in the face of non-traditional competitors unencumbered by legacy systems, many utilities are challenged to transform their core and legacy systems into a more flexible, responsive, and open architecture.
Blockchain may prove to be the most important factor in the disruption of utilities.
Blockchain is transparent, permanent, and, because it’s digital, typically easy to work with. This appears to make it a natural repository for a range of information that needs to be secure—from contracts to identities to financial transactions.
There are also service applications. With utilities trying to move to a more customer-centric business model, blockchain can capture data from smart meters, creating a secure, digital identity for each customer. This identity can reveal a customer’s preferences and habits, enabling tailored services and product offerings.
Perhaps the most disruptive application of blockchain for utilities comes as it relates to renewable energy and “prosumers”. With the storage capacity of solar cell batteries improving rapidly, the reality of peer-to-peer trading could be just over the horizon.
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