Organizations are looking at how AI and IoT can reduce cost, drive efficiencies, and enhance competitive advantage and support emerging business models. It is also clearly observed that some technical innovations from the mainstream of the IT world, or from other industries, are creating opportunities to leverage technology that did not exist previously in the industry.
The industry has, in the past, pursued a siloed approach to applications and technologies. This is characterized by the separation of the engineering and operations groups from IT, and the use of stand-alone, best-of-breed applications within the overall scope of IT. As ubiquitous connectivity continues to permeate technology sectors, an increasing need to unite energy technologies, operational technologies (such as sensors and smart devices) and IT (such as big data, advanced analytics and asset performance management [APM]) with consumer technologies (such as social and mobile) is observed in the industry.
Here are few examples of how Utilities Industry can benefit from top technology trends:
IT and OT Convergence
The separation of IT and OT architecture is ingrained by departmental separation, as well as the cultural differences and approaches separating IT departments (which traditionally manage IT investments) and engineering/ operations groups (which traditionally manage OT investments). A changed approach is to view OT systems not as a singular whole, but as a complex subsystem of hardware and software, allowing a determination of which part may be best supported by IT departments (who take on a shared responsibility), or by embedding IT staff in operations groups.
Internet of Things (IoT)
The smart grid, which includes IP-enabled sensors and control devices that can interact and drive business processes in a closed loop mode, in conjunction with smart meters and consumer energy technology such as intelligent thermostats, is an example.
In the utility industry, big data is usually addressed in terms of “smart-grid data volumes”, which is increasing by several orders of magnitude. Driving these trends are a host of edge devices, and new IT and Operational Technology (OT) applications, such as advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), smart appliances, microgrids, advanced distribution management, remote asset monitoring, event avoidance and self-healing networks.
Mobile and Location-Aware Technology
Lowering costs and improving the effectiveness of the field force are the main drivers for utilities to deploy mobile and wireless technologies. Utility companies are justifying the deployment of mobile technology, based on increased staff efficiency, decreased overall maintenance duration, reductions in outage time and labor cost savings.
Sensors are used for both monitoring and control of utility processes and equipment and are one of the building blocks of OT. New technologies, on sensors and the infrastructure that support them, are making way for new applications, which help utility companies discover potential benefits in workforce safety, equipment condition monitoring, fleet tracking, environmental monitoring, asset utilization, and post-event forensics.