Written by Jayesh Verma, Senior Research Manager, Energy Insights, IDC Asia/Pacific
The environment in which power companies are operating is dramatically changing and will continue to transform over the coming years. Distributed energy resources, battery storage, and a shift to renewables are creating greater complexity that power companies need to manage. These challenges are largely driven by the ongoing energy transition to generate and deliver clean and sustainable energy. These changes will affect organizations across the value chain including organizations operating in heavily regulated, vertically integrated, and competitive markets. Additionally, changing customer expectations will determine how companies deliver energy, place their product and service offerings, and engage with customers.
International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that more than half of the global investments in renewable assets over the coming three years will be in Asia. The growth in sustainable investments will impact utility organizations significantly due to the implications on how the grid needs to be managed, as well as commercially due to changing needs of customers around energy-related services and offerings. It will also drive innovation at a technology and business model level to cope with changing market dynamics.
Future power enterprises will be digitally determined organizations– they will be more automated, remotely managed, digitalized across their operations, and will adopt a higher pace of innovation. There are several critical areas that will be common in the reimagined power enterprises:
- Business Transformation: In the coming years, a fundamental change will take place at the business level due to regulatory changes, new market entrants, new business models, new offerings, and customer demands that will impact the business strategy and operations. Processes across the business will need to be changed to enable a central focus on customer experience. Utility companies will need to move from managing their customers through transactions, to be equipped in building integrated customer journeys for their customers.
- Organizational Transformation: With the transformation of the business and business model, the utility organizations will need to change to facilitate digital capabilities and reshape the work and workforce across the plant, control center, field, and office. Processes and systems that enables connected workspace and empower distributed decision-making will demand changes in the nature of the organization.
- Technological Transformation: The complex environment in which power companies operate is placing disruptive pressure on current technological capabilities, which will need to evolve to keep pace with changing market needs. Establishing a platform-based environment- to support an ecosystem of partners, implement data-driven intelligence, support automation, and improve connectivity – is necessary to address the technological deficit organizations are now facing.
Technology priorities for utility companies in the Asia/Pacific region, illustrated in the figure, clearly demonstrate the focus on building digital capabilities and priorities across technologies. Technologies such as Cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), Analytics, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) drive connectivity, visibility, insights, and help fulfill automation needs.
Companies are leveraging cloud computing platforms to drive business outcomes, run operations efficiently, improve efficiency and reduce cost. IoT has a significant role to play in the transformation of the digital grid, remote monitoring capabilities, and predictive maintenance through gathering and monitoring real-time data.
Further, in the medium-term, emerging technologies such as AR/VR will drive new use cases, and create opportunities for innovative solutions in training, simulation, and maintenance activities. One of the critical areas of transformation, that these technologies leverage, is the ability to manage, automate, and create value from data. With these competencies, an organization can synthesize information and apply it at scale to deliver data-driven decision-making and support the transition towards a more sustainable energy model.