Utilities
Assessment of Digital Maturity

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Synopsis

The digital maturity of the electricity industry is somewhat mixed. Some utilities are using advanced analytics to optimize assets; and in some systems there is widespread implementation of smart meters; while some utilities are beginning to digitally manage and integrate distributed generation resources. However, according to research sponsored by the WEF, overall only about 43% of utilities are currently investing in digital technologies as part of their overall business strategy, indicating this mixed status.

In a study involving more than 1,900 companies in Europe and the US, conducted by BCG, a consulting company, 57% of the utilities considered themselves to be digital laggards. Although utilities mostly invest on a project basis as vast bureaucracies, their close B2C orientation is now forcing them to also face increasing convergence between electric utilities and the home retail market, where intelligent appliances and smart meters are increasing demands for greater customer orientation. They are also facing pressure from their commercial and industrial markets where a platform for industrial-scale analytics, are connecting machines, sensors, control systems and devices.

Today's utility customers expect more than just reliable electricity service. They are becoming more proactive, demanding more choice and expecting more personalized services. What is missing for many utilities today is a top-tier customer experience (CX) and the systems that support it. Some utilities are investing in digital self-service technologies and mobile platforms. According to another survey, less than 14% of the utilities surveyed have any integrated digital transformation strategy.

Overall, we observe a sector that has considerable digital ambition but suffers a mismatch between those aspirations and its digital vision, investment, culture, and capabilities. Our assessment of the digital maturity of the utilities industry is thus under 40%.

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Digital Transformation in the Utilities Industry - CASE STUDIES

UTILITY PORTAL TO INITIATE & TRACK NEW METER INSTALLATION REQUESTS

Electricity meter installationBackground

An Urban gas and electricity utility was being beset with complaints from their contractors and also home builders in the metropolitan area about the delays and lack of status information on requests for the installation of gas and electricity meters.

The Challenge

The meter installation approval process involved: (1) completing the request form on line; (2) submitting fees, building designs, and other documentation; and (3) waiting for approval – a wait that could take anywhere from four weeks to six months ! There was no easy way to track the progress of the request through the approval process.

The Input

The Utility hired Primitive Logic, a digital transformation consulting firm with experience in the utilities and other industries. Having worked with the Utility before, Primitive Logic was familiar with the Utilities legacy systems and would be able to hit the ground running to more seamlessly and cost effectively integrate any new portal they developed.

The Output

The contractors wanted an online system that would allow the tracking of the status of each request and more clarity on the reasons for and the predicted length of the delays to help them better plan their work schedule. Primitive Logic took time to clarify end-users’ needs and pain points, before designing the portal which included: (i) A Dashboard for all the requests and their status and flags for missing documentations etc.; (ii) A job detail page with the status of each phase ((initiation, planning/engineering, final design, pre-construction, and construction) of the process detailed; (iii) A responsive design across mobile, desktop and tablet since the end users were mostly on site or in transit and needed a mobile first approach. The visual design was consistent with the Utility’s public site to deliver the information users need quickly and efficiently.

The Outcome

In addition to a high level of user satisfaction, there were also significant savings for the contractors with the reduction of uncertainty and avoidable delays (such as due to lack of awareness of missing items and incomplete application information, etc.). Some of these savings are likely to also be reflected in the future bidding by the contractors and builders.

Sources: Primitive Logic

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