Utility companies across the globe are facing myriad challenges today.
The market demands, regulatory norms, and customer expectations are evolving, which means that you surely need to keep pace with them.
The only way you can do it is by embracing technological advances that have the potential to modernize operations, enhance efficiency, and improve customer experiences.
While you may have already adopted innovation in one way or the other, there is probably much that still needs to be done by typical traditional utility businesses.
Are you ready for the future? What do you have on your tech checklist to be ahead of the technology trends?
Here are the digitization strategies that utility companies should embrace right now.
1. Know your challenges
The first step that takes you ahead on the journey to innovation is to know your challenges.
Obviously, you have to be aware of your shortcomings if you want to create a roadmap for overcoming them.
First things first, your customers expect the highest level of services today.
Further, they look for alternatives to cut down on utility costs, either through energy-efficient equipment or by reducing energy consumption.
Hence, your digitization initiative should focus on these objectives apart from improving efficiency as a whole.
2. Have a digital position for your utility business
Once you have a clear picture of the challenges you face, having a well-defined digital plan is the next obvious step of the journey.
Essentially, you will have to identify how digital will fit into your existing model while assuring benefits without toppling your budgets.
Here, it becomes important to identify the solutions that would cover all your requirements and address all the challenges.
It should include initiatives like upgrading field operations and work management, digitizing customer billing systems, and simplifying warehouse management across diverse locations.
At the same time, it is important to understand the risks that come along with these initiatives and also have a plan to handle them.
3. Aim for asset digitization
Managing their assets is one of the key concerns for any utility company that wants to optimize asset utilization and cut costs.
If you want to be future-ready, having an asset digitization strategy is vital.
You will have to rely on smart sensors to collect data for monitoring asset performance, eliminating downtime, decreasing maintenance costs, and increasing the availability and reliability of assets.
The idea is to achieve operational excellence and better business outcomes in the long run.
4. Prioritize customer experience
When it comes to taking your utility company one step ahead, nothing matters more than customer experiences.
Whether it is about delivering top-notch customer services and experiences, managing power outages effectively or providing them the information they need at any point in time, you should always be ready.
It makes sense to invest in the right tools and technologies that enable you to deliver beyond the expectations of the customers because they have a lot of options to choose amongst.
If you seem to fall short, they would immediately look for another provider.
5. Focus on cost reduction
While developing a digital agenda for your utility company, cost reduction is an area that you cannot ignore. Implement strategies that lower the operational costs and cost of transactions as well.
The operational cost of power generation and delivery functions, for example, can be lowered by investing in advanced grid modernization solutions such as energy storage, automation, and network control.
On the other hand, you can consider investing in technology solutions to cut down transactional costs such as invoice processing, payroll processing, and accounting entries.
Overall, lower costs translate into higher profitability for a future-ready utility company.
6. Invest in workforce augmentation
Making your company future-ready is much more than going the extra mile for the customers; your workforce deserves equal attention. Consider investing in workforce augmentation with IT solutions like GIS and field engineering.
Strengthening the core of your field operations not only improves employee efficiency but also drives better services for the customers.
Deploying smart communication solutions that keep your field staff connected is also a great idea.
Also, consider ones that simplify asset inspection and maintenance, enable remote monitoring of tasks, and empower workforce health and safety initiatives.
7. Evolve an integrated architecture
Going digital is a holistic process for any organization and it should integrate the entire architecture of the business.
This can be challenging for a typical utility company because multiple operations and processes are involved.
Look for a digital solution that covers operations, supply chain, marketing and commodity sales, maintenance, and development of new products and services as a whole.
The very objective of digitization is to pave the way to a tangible increase in value for the business.
This is possible only if all the systems come together and deliver greater cash flows along with better levels of service and reduction of risks.
8. Ensure viability and compliance
Finally, you also need to ensure that the transformation strategies you plan to implement are commercially viable and comply with the regulatory norms as well.
Unless you are able to follow these norms, you cannot run seamlessly no matter how much you invest in your digital strategy.
And the same holds true for commercial viability too because everything boils down to the revenues that a particular initiative brings for your business.
After all, these are the things that make innovation practical and possible.
While digitization is certainly on top of mind for most of the utility companies today, the implementation of this initiative is easier said than done.
The main hindrance is that utilities often have legacy IT systems in place and moving from them to the new ones can be really tough.
Further, your existing asset infrastructure base may be aging and there are regulatory commitments to fulfill as well.
Still, taking the right approach towards digital transformation and having the right strategies can make it easy.
It all depends on choosing a holistic and advanced technology solution that has you covered on all fronts. This is an effort you should definitely make because going digital is the key to being future-ready.
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