The utility industry is experiencing a midlife crisis
Utility companies are ageing in the face of the rapid digital transformation sweeping the T&D sector.
In the past, the energy and utility industry was the fastest-growing sector, even faster than consumer tech, entertainment, and fashion.
These days, just like the metabolism in some people starts to slow down in their 40s/50s, the evolution of T&D companies has failed to keep up with the modern digital world.
Instead of accepting the fact that ageing is hard and you can do nothing about it, utility companies need to stay young forever. We no longer have to accept growing old gracefully. Utilities have the potential to add some youthful vigour to decades of wisdom and experience.
So, what can utility companies do?
Start mixing with a younger crowd: Attract new skill sets to your energy utility
Enjoying their golden years — this is what’s in the mind of the 25% to 35% of the utility workers on the verge of retirement. According to the US Department of Energy, close to 25% of the entire utility workforce is set to call it quits in the next five years. This is a vast pool of knowledge that is about to leave the workforce.
While this can be viewed as a positive sign of career longevity in the utility industry, it also creates a talent crisis that utility companies must deal with.
Aside from the worker shortage, the new breed of potential utility and energy rockstars are picky. Originally driven by big tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Apple, the modern, digitally transformed workplace has become the gold standard in almost every industry. Millennials and some Generation Z won’t even consider joining your organization if you’re using dinosaur system or out-of-date tools that look like they came from the Jurassic period.
Luring these younger professionals armed with new skills and expertise is important if you want your organization to stay afloat. With 47% of industry leaders agreeing that “creating teams focused on innovation” is a must to drive revenue, investing in tech-savvy, digital-native workers is a must.
Plan for the future: Update utility infrastructure
It’s evident - at the pace we’re using up earth’s natural resources, it wouldn’t be a shock if we’re only left with a patch of trees.
The clamour for increased decarbonization and more renewable energy sources is not going away anytime soon.
Older grids are not fully equipped to meet the demand for renewable energy sources. In today’s industry standards, if these infrastructures were people, they would be referred to as “the seniors”, and we’re not talking about hierarchy. As one report reveals: “70% of power transformers are 25 years of age or older, 60% of circuit breakers are 30 years or older, and 70% of transmission lines are 25 years or older.”
Data-driven smart grids allow energy companies to get really granular with energy production, distribution, and consumption. This makes them as agile as a teenage gymnast and gives utilities more flexibility to manage the intermittency of renewable energy sources. This speeds up deployment and creates better integration of renewables into the energy mix.
Engage in lifelong learning: Harness emerging technologies
According to IoT World Today: “Successfully executed attacks on critical infrastructure and ICS can disrupt or destroy systems like power plants, natural gas pipelines or the electric grid. Prolonged power outages can lead to societal unrest, degrade our standard of living and cause the loss of human life. Meanwhile, without electrical power, there is no Internet, no banking, no communications—just chaos and disruption.”
The use of new technologies such as AI and machine learning to thwart cyberattacks is nothing new in other industries such as e-commerce. However, the utilities and energy sector is lagging behind.
Digitally transformed utility companies can fortify themselves to protect their assets. AI offers more effective and expedient threat monitoring. Machine learning can identify anomalies and compare it with a dynamic industry database of all known and emerging threats.
Keep your mind open to new ideas: Update legacy systems
Embracing digital transformation is no longer an option if utility and energy organizations want to remain profitable, relevant, and competitive. If your company has a legacy mindset, culture, system and set of tools, create a digital DNA to bring you into the modern world.
Or as the millennials say, “Make it more lit, dude.”
They say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, but today, it’s literally 'go digital or go home.' A digital DNA that integrates through all business and operational models and customer-focused digital service frameworks are required to pave the way for more agile, scalable, and profitable utility companies.
Join Smart Energy Internationa; on 23 October 2019 when we discuss how to 're-energise the utility talent pipeline' in a webinar hosted in conjunction with European Utility Week's Initiate! programme. During the webinar we will talk to utility companies and academia which are embracing the new dynamic, encouraging start-ups and young talent to challenge and disrupt the status quo and pursue a clean, secure and fair energy transition.
Greenbird offers out-of-the-box system integration and data provisioning for utilities. We are a true DevOps company, delivering unique time-to-market and reliability. We were named a Gartner ‘Cool Vendor’ in 2018 because of our domain-specific and flexible integration capabilities, crucial for creating easy-to-consume integrated solutions.
Utilihive empowers utilities to manage their data flow faster and smoother than traditional system integration models while accelerating the journey towards the energy revolution. To learn how you can unleash the value of data while removing silos, get the executive brief on Utilihive here