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How digital technology can empower energy and utilities businesses to transform challenges into opportunities

Paul Haggerty
Oct 18, 2023

Welcome to Capgemini’s ‘Future of’ series, in which we explore the challenges facing global energy and utilities businesses today and the opportunities these challenges create. Discover how, with vision and ingenuity, you can accelerate the pace of digital adoption across the value chain, delivering both quick wins and long-term dividends in the future. For your business, your consumers, and the environment.

What do environmental urgency, ageing assets, and consumer demands mean for the energy and utilities industry?

The challenges facing global energy and utilities businesses are uniquely complex. By 2050, the global population will reach 10 billion, with two thirds living in urban areas, generating an ever-increasing demand for food, water and energy. To meet this demand the world’s economies must continue to adapt, modernise and expand. The growing frequency of extreme weather events is a constant reminder of the increasing nature of the climate crisis and further cements the imperative to achieve Net Zero. Meanwhile, conflict and geo-political instability is having unforeseen impacts on supply, security, and resilience.

We are in urgent need of a transformation to accelerate the replacement of our aging power and water utility networks with smarter, cleaner, and more resilient infrastructure – powered by digital technology and data. Achieving this transition will enable the industry to operate sustainably, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and preserve our precious and finite natural resources.

But this challenge comes against a backdrop of ever-increasing costs and tighter regulation. Plus, it’s not energy and utilities business’ only priority. Consumers are demanding personalised, top-quality services, action to protect the environment, and more affordable bills.

Creating the critical systems and networks we need to achieve our shared goals is a monumental task and an onerous responsibility, played out on an epic scale. Therefore, success requires visionary decision making, substantial investment and the skill and ingenuity to integrate ground breaking new technologies into legacy infrastructure, while also building the new infrastructure that’s fit for the rest of the 21st Century.

How is the energy and utilities sector rising to the challenge?

From lagging behind many other industries in digital adoption, energy and utilities businesses are now catching up – turning threats into opportunities by embracing innovation, collaboration, game-changing technologies, and the power of integrated data analytics and insight.

Digitally empowered field force engineers are now acting on live data from extensive use of sensors to improve operational performance and efficiency of the assets they maintain, which in turn delivers significant benefits for the environment.

Adoption of digital approaches, tools and techniques – digital thinking – is playing a pivotal role in the journey of innovation and change that energy and utilities businesses are on, encouraged by the digital transformation of industries like automotive and aerospace, where digital is in their DNA.

For Scottish Water, we achieved real-time access to operational data using a combination of existing infrastructure and new ‘Internet of Things’ sensors and devices. Enabling asset optimisation, this helped them reduce energy consumption, emissions, incident severity, and cost of asset interventions, while increasing asset life and reducing chemical and operational spend.

In France, we worked with one of the world’s most innovative water businesses Saur to design and deploy a digital factory dedicated to the industrialisation of breakthrough data and digital technologies, to improve commercial performance and achieve operational excellence.

This collaboration was designed to accelerate digital projects and drive new ways of working. As part of its corporate transformation plan, Saur wanted to acquire the capabilities to deliver innovative technological projects that boosted its commercial performance and operational excellence and apply them on an industrial scale to digitalise its business lines.

What’s next in the ‘Future of’ series?

Throughout this series, we’ll explore how digital technology is revolutionising the way utilities are now operating – providing a snapshot of what is already being achieved, enroute to a fully connected and optimised business model.

Expect insight, expert opinions, and actionable advice on areas like transforming infrastructure performance, driving digital culture, and harnessing data-driven automation.

How can Capgemini help your business?

Capgemini is a leading strategic partner for energy transition and utilities transformation, working with organisations around the world to chart a course toward the future they want, and the planets’ needs. We then guide clients in navigating the many challenges that come with fundamental operational change.

We can help you take a comprehensive and holistic approach to transformation, focusing not just on building a strong technological foundation and on scaling use cases, but also transforming the business itself. We’ll help you adopt an end-to-end digital mindset, maximising the power and impact of automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning. The results? Significant improvements against KPIs – from enhanced customer engagement, satisfaction and retention to productivity and bottom-line profitability.

For more information contact Paul Haggerty and connect on Linkedin

Paul Haggerty

Vice President Head of UK ET&U Sector Capgemini UK
Paul is Head of our Energy Transition & Utilities (ET&U) sector for Capgemini in the UK and leads the sector across all business service lines including Consulting, Applications, Infrastructure, BPO and Engineering Services. Paul was originally a mechanical engineer in the Oil and Gas industry and has over 20 years consulting experience, leading major transformation programmes in the Utilities sector. Paul specialises in delivering combined consulting and technology capabilities, supporting clients maximise the potential of next generation digital solutions. He has line responsibility for Capgemini’s Applied Innovation Exchange capability for Energy and Utilities and has worked at an account and delivery level in a number of major clients. He has been with Capgemini for over 23 years, prior to joining Capgemini, Paul worked for Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers and FMC Technologies. Paul holds and MSc in Manufacturing, Management and Technology through the Open University.