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26 Jul 2023

Empowering Utilities: Embracing a sustainable era through technological transformation

By Shay Assaraf, Chief Marketing Officer, Gentrack

In today’s utilities sector, the value of assets extends beyond the traditional commodities they supply, such as energy or water. As the sector strives to meet ambitious sustainability targets, while staying profitable and competitive in a challenging market, the biggest asset for these corporations may well be the data they produce.

The global utilities sector has witnessed an explosion of data in recent years, driven in part by the widespread adoption of smart energy meters in numerous regions and the need to comply with various global settlement regulations that require utilities to process customer usage data within as little as five minutes. To delve into the importance of digital transformation in harnessing this data surge and propelling the industry towards a sustainable future, we collaborated with the renowned global market intelligence firm IDC to develop ‘Energy and water companies urgently need to transform their technology stack to prosper in the sustainable era’[1] . The report explores the importance of embracing the latest technologies to enable digital and business transformation that will allow utilities to navigate the data-driven landscape and drive positive change within the industry.

The number of smart meters deployed globally is estimated to reach nearly 200 million by 2025, generating vast amounts of data on energy consumption, grid performance, and customer behaviour. This will be further exacerbated with the development of regulations such as the UK’s much-anticipated Half Hourly Settlement (HHS) programme. This is set to drive a data deluge, as energy providers gather usage information every thirty minutes, and use that information to influence everything from grid performance to trading strategies. In Australia, where Five Minute Settlement has been commonplace since 2020, energy suppliers are handling even larger volumes of data – sitting on valuable insights that can fuel rich customer interactions, enable lucrative new revenue streams and drive sustainability.

Breaking down data silos

But for this to work, utilities must move beyond their existing legacy software providers to eliminate data silos. Suppliers need to transform their IT stack to embrace cloud, advanced analytics, low-code / no-code technologies, and composable plug-and-play architectures, according to the IDC report. That is because legacy systems were not designed for the free flow of data. Moving to a composable architecture provides utilities providers with the opportunity to build a plug-and-play tech stack and scale their technology as their business grows.  These next-gen offerings are designed to be API-first, i.e., the ability to rapidly integrate and allow the free flow of data across those systems is the number one priority. Once the data is flowing seamlessly across the supplier’s vast technology set-up, it’s time to apply pervasive data analytics. When this is combined with AI and machine learning, suppliers can identify and remedy issues automatically before they happen, accurately forecast consumption, and make personalised recommendations to consumers on how to reduce their energy usage. 

A large B2B energy supplier recently discussed the benefits of enabling different user groups of all levels of their organisation the ability to create, customise and run their own reports based on their requirements.  This has delivered key business outcomes such as identification of new cross and upsell opportunities, thereby extracting maximum customer lifetime value whilst providing tailored offerings to the end user. The IDC report coins a new business model and mindset for the utilities sector, fuelled by this technological shift – product-to-profit. This innovative model describes the evolution to a more agile, targeted and automated way of working. By embracing technological advancements, prioritising individual differences, and adopting a customer-centric approach, utilities can thrive in the sustainable era while meeting evolving customer expectations. You can read more on this here.

The journey towards a sustainable future in the utilities sector hinges on technology-driven transformation. The wealth of data available to energy and water retailers presents a huge opportunity. However, accessing and utilising this data effectively is the key to unlocking its potential. Suppliers must harness this data to extract valuable insights and deliver highly personalised recommendations to customers at the right time, price, and through the appropriate channels. This can only be achieved by breaking down data silos, harmonising disparate customer systems, and streamlining processes. By adopting these principles, suppliers can not only maximise the value of their data but also pave the way for a more sustainable and prosperous future for the industry.

Download the insight paper here.

[1] IDC Technology Spotlight, sponsored by Gentrack, Energy and water companies urgently need to transform their technology stack to prosper in the sustainable era, IDC #EUR150620423, May 2023

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