Improve your utility customer experience

ransomwareIoT’s connected equipment is causing some concern over security. (Image source: Christiaan Colen/ Flickr)As utility companies continue to develop more customer-centric businesses, cloud services are helping them to engage with the customers in a more appealing way

Cloud computing

A change in trend has been seen these days where utility companies are also adopting cloud services despite of being conservative. Retail-only utilities are using cloud services to have the same look and feel throughout multiple platforms without investing much in IT skills and infrastructure. Cloud solutions enable the use of complex analytics of high volume data, which was not possible earlier.

Digital Transformation/IoT

Utility companies have been smart operators for years now in many ways. Instrumentation and telemetry across transmission and distribution networks inform supply and demand management across all utilities. The latest IoT technologies which are smaller, smarter sensors and faster networks will help in monitoring more elements of the network and can analyse data to improve service to the customer.

Unplanned outages can be detected and resolved quickly whereas equipment can be monitored for maintenance. One of the challenges that may come up is integrating with other ‘smart’ organisations as buildings, cities, industrial sites and communities are becoming more instrumented.

Electric Vehicles (EVs)

In the recent past, there has been an increase in the number of electric cars. Nowadays, consumers are more concerned about the environment. Therefore, they prefer electric engines over the conventional gas and diesel ones.

However, there are certain issues which the EVs face like lack of charging points in the country. Vehicle-to-grid technology (V2G) is usually preferred where the battery of the car is charged overnight and is discharged to the consumer during the day. Due to this, there has been less use of conventional forms of energy. However, lack of infrastructure is still an issue.

Renewable and Distributed Energy Resources

Consumers nowadays prefer using renewable sources of energy over the conventional forms. However, in order to generate energy from renewable sources, there has to be proper infrastructure to connect them to the grid.

Small microgrids and rooftop solar are very common as well as problematic. In these distributed energy resources (DER), the energy produced is supplied to local consumers and both supplement supply from the grid and supply it back to the grid. This is a new phenomenon and therefore it requires new tariffs and billing services.

Security (Cyber and Physical)

IoT’s connected equipment is causing some concern over security. It can be protected physically by increasing the fence’s height but it is really hard to spot cyber threats. The threat can spread from older equipment to the internet with the help of local network connections. 

The Centre for Risk Studies has reported that about 15 per cent of cyber-attacks in the UK are targeted at energy business. A major attack can put millions of homes and business out of action. This would not only affect the utility company but would also have a bigger impact on the wider society.  

The utility companies have a long way to go before they address these disruptive technologies which can change the way things are at the moment and it can also be a good news for the customers. 

Alain Charles Publishing, University House, 11-13 Lower Grosvenor Place, London, SW1W 0EX, UK
T: +44 20 7834 7676, F: +44 20 7973 0076, W: www.alaincharles.com

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