New roles emerging as utilities become more data-driven

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Appointing a chief digital officer is key to creating a trusted data pipeline

The amount of data being generated is growing exponentially. For utilities, digital innovation in operations is the future of the business, but core capabilities are shifting to adapt. As decarbonization, disintermediation, decentralization, and decreasing consumption are on the rise, digitization is the key to connecting them.

According to Capgemini’s World Energy Markets Observatory 2019, the path towards digital innovation and convergence and the move beyond a pure platform model requires that utilities enable huge transformation by connecting new products and services with key demand sectors such as transport, buildings, and industry. For many utilities, that means creating a role for a chief digital officer (CDO).

The trend towards technological convergence is taking place with maximum impact from developments in artificial intelligence, distributed ledgers or blockchain, and advanced control algorithms. To meet changing customer expectations and to increase operational efficiency, CDOs are focusing on data analytics at the same time as deploying agile techniques.

Businesses know they need to turn trusted data into real business insights and value but are unsure how to move beyond proof of concept to deliver actual results. CDOs can work to adapt data sets and emerging analytics and apply them to traditional use cases to drive business value. Machine learning and AI offer powerful possibilities but need solid data to deliver real results.

CDOs can also leverage technology to meet changing journeys, preferences, and engagement channels such as social media, text messages, and apps to improve the customer experience. Utilities can no longer afford to just send a bill at the end of the month. Customers have more options and expect more from their suppliers.

Digital technologies are also driving a shift to Agile workflows. Using agile management techniques, workflows, and processes will deliver positive ROI while dealing with volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous generation, transmission, and distribution situations. Agile is no longer an option; it is a competitive edge. Leveraging agile means companies can move more rapidly, adapt to market conditions faster, and gain value.

CDOs can also lead the adoption of multispeed architectures or bimodal IT. These options enable CDOs to navigate predictable areas as well as make changes to legacy technology tools and processes to drive digital transformation. It allows them to constantly adjust to the ever-changing environment and regulatory conditions in the energy market.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for managing data. Technology, data, and people will differ for every company, depending on the existing technology stack, appetite for intelligent decision making, innovative people culture, data governance and control of data, structured processes and workflows, data-driven approaches to business challenges, and team collaboration with educational community building.

To move forward with meaningful digital transformation, the foundation must be built on trusted data. The CDO takes on a central role in this, as the person dedicated to ensuring you are collecting good data and can access it to make data-driven decisions for your business.

Randy Cozzens is an Executive Vice President and North American Energy, Utilities, and Chemicals Market Unit Lead at Capgemini and he can be reached at randall.cozzens@capgemini.com.

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