Although the term ‘Digital Utility’ has been used frequently over the past few years, for many of us, 2018 was the year technological excellence made this concept a reality – and fulfilled a long-held ambition of many in the industry.
Now in 2019, those entering the utilities sector will find a new mindset exists that can be traced back to the emergence of highly accessible teaching computers like the Raspberry Pi around a decade ago.
These gave hands-on robotics to our future engineers, powerful open source technologies to our future Data Scientists and, most importantly, got them working together.
In 2019, graduates entering the industry are ‘digitally native’. They fully expect disruption and are ready to embrace an ever-changing digital landscape and new AI systems.
As students they learned to dream big, controlling not just toy robots but their whole home media and energy environment using only their voice. Imagine the attraction of doing that for an entire smart city.
This year, if you can think it, you can do it!
Enzen is proud that in the last year we supported customers in delivering many innovative digital programmes. One of the highlights was an automated, condition-based monitoring solution with state-of-the-art autopilot drones used to capture digital aerial footage.
We also helped the successful migration of a full network operations centre to the public cloud for the first time in the UK.
Each digital breakthrough disrupts old ways of thinking and shows how emerging technologies can massively optimise performance as well as mitigate risks.
One example we expect to see more of in 2019 is improving the safety of operational staff. The adoption of Virtual and Augmented Reality technology creates new immersive training experiences, with location-aware devices and digital twinning arriving this year.
Utilities no longer talk about ideas that have long been integrated into other industries. Instead, they are adapting and applying these concepts to inform the new business models and regulatory environments of the future.
Another of Enzen’s highlights in 2018 was our work with the Future Power System Architecture (FPSA) programme. In this project, we focused on the types of whole-system considerations that will be needed this year and in the future. These include the new legal, regulatory and governance requirements that will drive the transition of the industry that’s currently underway.
At Enzen we describe ourselves as a knowledge practice. As Digital Utilities finally emerge at the end of this decade, we see more than ever the need for a collective Digital Intelligence at the core of all utilities.
This is the skill and knowledge to apply Technological Excellence - the know-who, know-how, know-what and know-why – to a Digital Utility so it can successfully adapt to its broader context and adjacent industries.
2019 is already underway and digital systems in some form are being built into every utility.
The question, however, is how many can effectively integrate and manage those to harness the disruption and lead the way into the next decade?
Whatever the answer, we think it's going to be a fantastic ride.