Mobility, the Cloud and Innovation for the Utilities Sector
The business world is always changing, but few industries are undergoing such an extensive and permanent shift as the energy and utilities sectors. Demographics and demand are evolving, and many traditional pricing and distribution models are outdated. As more and more regions shift to renewable energy, electrical grids are no longer centralized. Solar panels positioned on far-flung farms and at individual buildings and residences create a two-way power flow, and managing it requires a solution that can coordinate the thousands and millions of moving pieces in these complex networks. Utilities are making a concerted effort to adapt to these changes, and they are increasingly turning to mobile and smart technologies to handle these new tasks.
In the past, most mobile apps and solutions were designed for entertainment — social media, games and shopping applications draw millions of downloads. That trend has shifted in recent years, and 2016 saw a boom in mobile solutions from B2B companies and enterprises in utilities and manufacturing. Organizations are experimenting with different solutions and innovations, some developing customer enterprise software themselves and others subscribing to application services. Utility services are rapidly adopting the Internet of Things, new IT infrastructure and cloud-based tools.
All of these solutions depend on two things: connectivity and data. Analytics and forecasts have long been a component of successful utilities management, but organizations are now developing and applying wider-reaching big data analytics tools. Applying this data is dependent on an energy network’s ability to communicate across devices, sensors and tools throughout the grid, so ensuring the efficacy of communications networks has become an essential component of next-generation utilities operations.
Increased accessibility to this information is appealing to both business and consumers. The public is more informed than ever about the importance of efficient energy use, and they appreciate increased insight and control over their own usage. PK gives customers and providers the flexibility to define setoff points and baselines and graph usage and costs over time. Utilities organizations are similarly interested in running a more efficient operation, and capabilities like real-time monitoring and benchmarking processes can lead to substantial savings across the board.
As our relationship with energy changes, so will the energy industry. Society is moving towards efficient and low-impact energy use, and the shortcuts and capabilities enabled by mobile and cloud-based technologies are accelerating that goal. Though this brings challenges, the utility industry is seizing this transition as an opportunity to innovate and find new applications for technology solutions in the new era.