Old guard industries learning new tricks, smarter than ever

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In one of the most heavily infra-structured industries on the globe today, technology is threatening to completely overturn what we’ve come to expect from a utilities company.

The push toward renewables and “smart” systems has created a landslide in the way we view our energy and the ways it is produced, transmitted, and stored. Utilities providers, in the wake of this evolution in expectations, will need to evolve similarly, finding the best ways to utilize emerging technologies to not just fulfill their customer’s energy needs, but to do so while offering an experience that matches that of the modern person.

As this new world develops, it will increasingly rely on bold organizational decisions from utilities companies regarding artificial intelligence, automation, and electrification. Investment in these areas will be crucial, but knowing how and where to devote time and resources will be the major key. The quest to personalize plans and systems to a consumer’s needs while maintaining a fundamentally strong and reliable energy platform is the next frontier that must be met; what steps must be taken to build that future?

The innovation that has already been instituted in some homes and other buildings is the smart meter. The smart meter offers real-time data regarding energy usage, allowing a consumer to view their current and total usage for any period of time. This technology helps to maximize the ways in which energy is used and to test the efficacy of energy saving or reducing methods.

But the smart meter is also capable of helping energy providers become smarter as well. As the customer uses it and creates data regarding their usage, the company can then view that data and determine how to build a more personalized plan for either that customer or for customers as a whole in the future. Engaging more actively with customers via that personalization can build stronger buyer-seller bonds.

The modern smart home won’t just have a meter that passively tracks energy usage, however, but a fully-fledged operating system that communicates with the energy sources, including integration with smart power grids, provides multiple layers of real-time data and its own conclusions for the homeowner, and locates different energy contracts and services for the owner to view. Again, in this way, going above and beyond for the customers and creating a new world in utilities for them to experience helps to give them stake in the brand and makes them feel like a member of a greater movement in the industry.

Some even more advanced technologies are set to disrupt the industry as well, including the world’s first virtual power plant and peer-to-peer electricity trading through blockchain. In a market that has been extremely staid and unmoving for so long, this drastic shift in expectations and large-scale investment represents a huge risk, but it will also dramatically move us all forward when the infrastructural change is complete and those powers in utilities can fully institute the technologies across the globe.

Utilities companies must use this new investment to lay the foundation for a platform that is not just technologically driven and able to power smart business outcomes, but one that is powerful enough to operate on a global scale, connecting and empowering us through the progress we’ve made. As the way we think about our energy changes and our traditional models are discarded, we must ensure that consideration for the customer and maximizing their experience remains at the center of business goals, as providing the best possible human experience is still what will maximize profits and encourage further growth.