Utility companies face huge pressure from the public (and regulators) to use more renewables and decentralize the sourcing and production of energy. Not only that, but attitudes and expectations around service delivery have changed. Customers expect energy companies to work for them. They no longer want to be at the mercy of bureaucratic processes and fixed pricing plans.
There's plenty of scope and potential for utilities to engage and empower cities, customers and employees through digital transformation. Yet, the utilities industry has remained relatively hesitant in their adoption of digital. However, this is starting to change as companies realise the potential benefits of digital transformation. Using data-driven cloud technology and the 'Internet of things' (IoT), transformation enables things like:
Optimised asset performance. Data and analytics can predict breakdowns, improving the reliability and availability of assets. The World Economic Forum estimates that data and analytics will add $400bn of value to the industry.
Real time supply and demand of energy. Using smart sensors and the smart grid, utility companies can send and receive real-time usage data. This allows for greener, more conservative energy. It also reduces peak-time overloads, and provides accurate usage-based billing for customers.
Digital customer interface. Customers don't just want better utilities pricing and performance. They also want control through self-service platforms. In response, 50 percent of utilities companies plan to be 'convenient lifestyle' providers by 2020.
Digital field workforce. Automation, mobile devices and smart technology make employees more efficient and productive. For example, adding GPS information tools can increase productivity by 15 percent.
Utilities has come a long way since the first industrial revolution. They have a wider scope as we have entered the fourth revolution, which focuses on digital. As with any revolution, there's plenty of demand and drive behind it. And there are plenty of barriers too.
For partners, this provide an opening to grow alongside utilities. This is a particularly exciting opportunity for managed service providers and value-added resellers. Read on to find out how ISV partnership expands your reach resulting in predictable, recurring revenue.
Sleepy industry wakes up to digital transformation
Despite the potential for companies to grow through digital transformation, compared with industries like financial services and retail, utilities is one of the 'sleepy' industries. Until recently, utilities have either been in a state of inertia or innocence about technology, and digital has hit them like a bucket of cold water (or an electric shock).
Now fully aware of digital transformation and its urgency, utilities are rethinking entire business models. As Bain and Company point out, 'utility executives are accustomed to planning 5, 10 or even 20 years out. But now many find themselves learning to move at a faster pace to keep up with digital technology.'
While there's strong will and ambition to keep up with the digital world, PwC reports that most are still stuck in the past with legacy infrastructure, culture and processes. Utilities want to embrace the future, but they don't see a way forward. As such, digital transformation has become a source pressure and they need partners' help to pull it off.
Utilities need to simplify and optimise internal operations
As an industry, utilities has struggled to catch up with digital transformation. Because of this, there's a significant gap in visions for digital transformation and execution of new technologies. This means they need fast time-to-value technology that's easy to implement.
Simplifying internal operations and supply chain transformation are key to transformation. Before bringing value and benefits to customers and society, they must resolve these issues. Here are the key things utilities need from technology:
- Enterprise asset management (EAM) and resource planning (ERP). Utilities need technology to digitize assets and resources and enable full visibility on one platform.
- Change management and digital culture. Transformation of any process will bring about cultural shift. Companies need help with overcoming inertia and fear of change amongst employees.
- Trusted solutions with fast time-to-value. Utilities need quick simple solutions pre-configured with industry standards for peace of mind.
There are many opportunities and prospects here for partners to gain new customers in utilities through addressing specific needs and upselling (or cross-selling) to existing clients. Partnering with an ISV can help you here.
Partner with ISVs to expand your reach and revenue
The smartest way to meet customer needs and expand your reach is to partner with a software vendor. This is because ISVs operate largely through packaged intellectual property (IP).
By partnering, you can leverage ready-made applications, accelerating your time-to-market in the industry. It's a faster, more cost-effective alternative to going it alone.
Packaged IP + Managed Services = dynamite combination for recurring revenue
While any partner will benefit from getting with an ISP, not all revenue streams are equal. According to IDC research, the gross profit generated by each type of service is as follows:
- Value added reselling - 15 percent
- Managed services - 45 percent
- Packaged IP drives the largest gross margins, with 70 percent
For partners, the best idea is clear: get with an ISV to leverage their packaged IP. Then combine your managed services (with a bit of reselling) for maximum profit. This will allow you to create a source of recurring revenue through bundled services. This will meet all customer needs while building strong, long-term relationships.
Here are some examples of ISV products that could help you expand your reach and revenue in utilities:
ABB's Ellipse Select
Ellipse Select is an industry-standard EAM & ERP and communications product. This is valuable to utilities companies because it provides fast time-to-value and rapid digital maturity to build best-practice from the start.
Watch John Stevenson, pre-sales manager at ABB, talk more about 'riding the future of industrial digitalisation' and helping utilities overcome multiple internal barriers.
Esri UK's ArcGIS
ArcGIS is a software product working through maps, which helps field workers and regulators in utilities collaborate and share information in real-time.
Watch Heather Fletcher talk about how Esri UK helps companies unlock geographic information to gain visibility and make intelligent, informed decisions.
ISV partnerships: bringing more power to the power
Digital transformation in utilities has the potential to bring more power to the power, and more power to partners too.
Through partnering with ISVs, you can help utilities on their way to becoming better, smarter and greener organisations and connect better with customers. In turn, this will increase your reach and revenue.