The flexibility to change


To remain relevant in the new energy future, utilities have to embrace digital solutions that will give them a competitive edge. Because current systems constrain innovation, utilities need to change their systems.

According to Colin Beaney, global industry director at IFS, utilities should not opt for solutions that will “hold them back.” He explains: “You don’t want to be held back by systems that are not agile. Instead, you need systems that help you flex and provide even more services.”

Software supporting a wider service offering

Business models in the electricity sector are changing rapidly in response to the energy transformation. Without this ability to transform and reinvent them quickly, businesses will find themselves unable to provide new services which will render them irrelevant.

“Organisations must change and adapt and they don’t need business systems and applications that will constrain that transformation. Utilities don’t have time to second guess what is going to happen in the market. They need the right systems (and partners) to help them remain lean and agile when developing new business models.

Beaney points out that the utilities are becoming a “lifestyle provider” in that it’s no longer just about selling kilowatt hours-it’s more about selling a service or solution to enhance that energy usage.

“Companies… have recognised this need and we provide the tools to support and enhance that level of service whether it’s scheduling repair work or managing the installation of a meter.”

He predicts that utilities will eventually bundle services and solutions to become a ‘one-stop shop’. “Eventually customers will buy their electricity, gas, insurance and water and so much more from one utility so it’s important to adopt the tools to support this. These tools should give the utility the ability to manage the value chain in such a way that your customers’ experiences are seamless.”

A vendor that will support agility

Beaney says that it is important to choose a vendor that is nimble and agile enough to provide the level of innovation that the electricity sector needs.  Sometimes, he says, that could mean choosing a growing business software vendor because the larger vendors don’t always have the capability to get the innovation out quickly enough.

He explains: “A vendor… can offer agility and flexibility to the market where there is a need to do things in a swift and reliable manner. Utilities should rely on the expertise of a business software vendor when it comes to changing systems and adopting new software solutions. They should not try to do it themselves.  Something that would take [a vendor] a few weeks to produce may take a utility months, even years. It pays to work with organisations that are leaner and faster.”

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