The utility industry is being buffeted by policy changes, disruptive technology, diminishing energy consumption, and changing customer preferences. In response to these challenges industry leaders have spent most of the last decade modernize the grid to address reliability and resiliency. This investment in new systems and sensors has allows utilities to capture a huge amount of data in real-time. However, the “smart grid” has only laid the foundation for utilities to truly address the significant challenges associated with decarbonization and an increasingly distributed grid. To fully capitalize on the potential of data, utilities will need to embark on a digital transformation. Zpryme recently completed a survey of 150 utilities that examined the progress utilities are making in this transformation, and then developed a digital maturity model to help guide future development. The report, “Building the 21st Century Digital Grid” found that there is a broad consensus that digital modernization is crucial for the industry to meet challenges related to changing customer demands, technological disruption, and a new regulatory framework.

Key Findings

  • 91% of respondents report that embracing digital technology is crucial to the future success of their utilities.
  • Only 23% of utilities have reached a level of digital maturity where they are making capital expenditure decisions based on predictive analytics.
  • In the next 3 years, 76% of utilities expect to be able to align digital strategy with regulatory policy and ill key digital roles in their enterprise.

Stages in Digital Maturity

Zpryme identified three major stages in digital maturity; digitization, digitalization, and enterprise integration. Each of these stages has three corresponding steps that utilities will go through.

Digitization is the gathering and transferring of information and data from analog to a shareable format that can be processed by a computer.

Digitalization is the transformation of business processes by end-to-end sharing of information across the entire enterprise improving operations and effectiveness of customer delivery.

Enterprise Integration is the optimization of strategic, data-driven decision-making and digital processes to solve business challenges.

How is Zpryme Measuring Utility Progress?

As utilities modernize their systems, processes, training, and equipment there are four major business areas to focus on for digital transformation:

  • Business Strategy and Management- The utility’s organizational structure, their strategic processes, and regulatory approach.
  • Grid Operations- The utility’s approach to managing their grid, workforce, assets, sensors, and systems for delivering power.
  • IT and Communications Technology- The utility’s IT systems, technology stack, and process for gathering and analyzing data throughout the enterprise.
  • Customer Delivery- The utility’s customer experience, marketing, and programmatic team along with the technology systems that support those efforts.

In the report and infographic, we delineate key characteristic that utility will have achieved in each of these four major business areas at each of the major stages and steps (see below for an example). This will allow utilities to measure their progress towards becoming a fully digital utility.

A digital utility will be customer-centric, resilient, automated, and hyper-connected with collaboration between AI and human processes. Digital utilities will tackle the business challenges of aging infrastructure, a regulatory system in flux, distributed energy resources, and the convergence of information technology and operations technology (IT/OT). The report, “Building the 21st Century Digital Grid” and the corresponding infographic will help utilities develop a strategy to modernize effectively and provide guidance along the way.

Additionally, Zpryme will be hosting a webinar with NYPA’s President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones that focusses on their approach to digital transformation on. The webinar will focus on NYPA’s progress and next steps in their effort to become the first end-to-end digital utility. Furthermore, it will explore the steps utilities must take to reach full digital enterprise integration and how business models are evolving as utilities move towards enterprise integration. Zpryme will also be speaking Gary Rackliffe.