How Digital Transformation Is Influencing Utilities

Lloyd Adams

Technology is changing rapidly. These changes affect almost everyone at every business in every industry, and the power and utility field is no exception. In fact, the major changes that impact the utility business actually represent a digital transformation as the utility story unfolds before us.

The future may be uncertain, but the information we have today about digital transformation offers clues about its influence on the utility industry.

What are today’s most profitable business models?

The business models that worked 20 or even 10 years ago are not as effective as they once were. While in prior years utility customers had few options, today they can choose the companies that best fit their needs and wants. Customers are savvier and expect companies to provide more services and extras such as green practices.

According to the Digital Utilities Roadmap, the four following business models will likely emerge:

  • Renewable energy generation at near-zero (marginal) cost
  • Distribution that is both smart and efficient (appealing to savvy customers)
  • Services that balance both supply and demand concerns
  • Omnichannel distribution, to digital “prosumers” (i.e., smart consumers who want the best for their homes and businesses)

What are the best ways to meet today’s power needs?

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, we can achieve reliable, sustainable power by choosing renewable energy. Customers are willing to choose wind and solar energy because they offer an alternative to less-clean, more expensive options. As choice becomes more common, alternative power sources will become more reliable and will reach even customers located in remote locations. The digital connection that brings people together will spread the word about the benefits of renewable energy.

Which technology trends today have the biggest influence on the utilities industry?

Smart electronics and home products are more than just a convenience for consumers. These technological advancements have a big impact on the utility market. At their simplest, smart products create smart consumers, enabling them to measure their utility usage and better understand where their energy is coming from and how it is being used. In addition, they have a better understanding of their bills and can make better choices regarding energy usage.

On a deeper level, the smart home and smart device industries provide utility companies with Big Data—data that may have never been available before—which allows companies to adjust their offerings.

While the utilities story may never be complete, it has reached a major climax. It will be exciting to see how the industry responds. Major changes are occurring, and digital transformation will continue. Consumers will also continue to learn and grow.

From a consumer standpoint, this is a great time. Why not take advantage of all of the benefits that technology has to offer?

Learn more about digital transformation for utilities.

Lloyd Adams

About Lloyd Adams

Lloyd Adams is national vice president of Utilities for SAP North America. In this role, he is responsible for sales and customer relations in the SAP Utilities North America practice.