No longer are energy consumers tied to a single source of power for personal or corporate needs. Today’s emerging utility-facing technologies are reinventing the generation, management, and consumption of utility services, and both utility providers and their customers are compelling even more disruption and change.
A Growing Energy Ecosystem
It’s no surprise that technology is reinventing not just how the utility sector conducts its business, but also its configuration, how it functions, and where it is going. Increasingly, outside influences are becoming more significant to the utility industry as service providers, regulators, and (especially) consumers add both stresses and assets to the system:
Changes in Energy Flow
Distributed energy technologies are changing the flow of power, altering how America generates and consumes its electricity.
- Electric cars, now rid of the need for fossil fuels, pull electricity from the utility grid but then are also capable of feeding their power back into the grid.
- Solar panels and wind turbines can accomplish the same goal: provide more electricity into the grid than the traditional home or enterprise pulls off of it.
- Some experts believe that electricity storage batteries may be seen not just as backups for homes and businesses, but as a part of a whole community reservoir of backup energy, available for when larger power supplies are needed.
The technology used to facilitate these functions does more than just direct that energy flow; it also collects data, records volume and user information, and provides critical analytical insights to inform and direct decision and policy making.
Changes in Customer Expectations
The advent of digital mobility is also infusing today’s utility sector, especially for customers. Just as they prefer to do much of their shopping and business online, so do utility customers want to access their power company’s resources online, too. When on those sites, consumers now expect to pay their bills, track their usage, or even turn their services on or off. The utility company benefits by gaining all that consumer data, which it can use to streamline its systems and resources further.
Changes in Utility Market Participants
Not insignificantly, third-party enterprises are also making deeper and more significant inroads into the traditional utility sector. One big driver of this influence is the growing incursion of the Internet of Things (IoT). Today’s electrical equipment makers, communications companies and consumer product developers are looking to use utility services to gain access to utility customers.
- Smart meters transmit home and business energy usage in real time and report failures or other system challenges before they can reach crisis level.
- Home automation devices collect consumption data so utilities can adjust their service deliverables according to their customer’s preferences.
- Technologies embedded in the community infrastructure can provide unlimited volumes of data about how communities use their public and private spaces. Utilities will use the data to redirect services according to demand and redirect energy flows to critical social systems when needed.
Technology Fuels the Emerging Digitized Utility Sector
Underpinning every future utility service and support deliverable is the technological wealth of data analytics. Today’s technologies are already gathering billions of data bits per day and transforming that information into actionable directives. With this information, utility companies can strategize their future, whether that means introducing new features or plans or adding investments to the physical infrastructure. Not least important: predictive analytics already provide key insights into what will happen in the future, giving utility leadership the time and opportunity necessary to address issues before they become problems.
Today’s technologies are reinventing how companies and consumers use their utility services. See our white paper to find out more about the technological solutions that are providing utility companies with the information and strategies they need to embrace and grow with the country’s emerging energy sector ecosystem.
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For additional resources on analytics and utility companies please download white papers: “Analytics: The Customer-Friendly Collections Solution” and “Advanced Analytics Technology Enhances Utility Management.”
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