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The differing attitudes to digital transformation in the utility sector

There are few utility organizations today that don’t understand or appreciate the benefits of digital transformation. However, a new whitepaper published by OpenText™ reveals a range of attitudes regarding how quickly these companies feel they will get there.

Utility companies worldwide face incredible pressures caused by a host of factors – including deregulation, the growth of renewable energy sources and distributed energy resources, and increased customer volatility. Faced with these challenges, the effective use of transformational digital technologies offers the potential to help companies succeed in this ever-changing industry.

Digital transformation can be deployed to drive service and operational improvements, automate business processes and workflows, and develop new ways to connect and engage with customers. But, as with many major shifts, the sooner companies begin to think about adopting the necessary technology the better.

Is time on your side?

The new Transformational technologies and the future of Utilities whitepaper describes how utility companies around the world are pushing ahead with their transformation initiatives sooner rather than later.

“If digital transformation is going to happen in this industry, it will happen in the next five years, not the next 15, and companies that have been too slow will be left behind.”

Charles Grey, Head of Technology, Hudson Energy

A UK provider of gas and renewable energy, Hudson Energy’s approach to digital transformation is somewhat at odds with the majority of the UK utility market. Although no company surveyed said that digital transformation wasn’t taking place, more than one in four UK companies felt it will not occur until the late 2020s or early 2030s.

The barriers to quickly achieving digital transformation

Aging IT infrastructure was cited as one reason that the transformation process may take so long.

“A lot of the ability to transform in the sector—and elsewhere—boils down to legacy systems where, commonly, everything is dependent on everything else and it’s difficult to efficiently plug in multiple sets of change at the same time.”

Greg Jackson, Octopus Energy

There are other factors at play here as well. When asked about the types of technologies that companies will be investing in to support digital transformation initiatives, data analytics was far and away the clear winner. But when you drill into individual responses another picture emerges.

“Data analytics, predictive analytics and alerts. I think that is at the far edge of the customer journey. There’s a lot more that almost all businesses could do in terms of improving their core platform before they go about trying to leverage predictive analytics or try to delight customers in a different digitally led way.”

Brian Ebdon, Director of Retail Operations, Water Plus

There’s no time like the present

There is nothing wrong with focusing on improving systems and processes to drive operational excellence. In fact, it’s essential. However, utility companies also must grasp the transformative nature of digital technologies now or run the risk of competitors getting there first.

Read more about the Utilities industry’s thoughts on digital transformation in this whitepaper. To learn more about OpenText solutions for the utilities sectors, visit our website.

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Martin Richards

Martin Richards is a Senior Director for Energy Industry Solutions at OpenText. For over twenty years, he has worked with ECM technology, delivering professional services and solutions for the energy and engineering industry.

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