Utilities industry survey results: Digital challenges, big data opportunities


It’s not easy being a utility these days. Customers are demanding consumer-grade experiences from their providers across a multitude of digital channels. This customer-centric mandate necessitates optimising current front-end and back-office technologies, or investing in new digital platforms all of which requires mitigating looming cybersecurity risks.

Utilities certainly want to keep their customers happy by tapping into digital and cloud-based services. But there are other areas of the business that could use upgrading: grid operations, back-office systems, and supply chain management also would benefit from digitally driven efficiencies.

Utilities Challenges and Opportunities

All of this insight is according to research completed in conjunction with the SAP for Utilities event. Overall, SAP utilities customers are interested in both optimising current technologies and exploring new ones, such as driving decisions with data and moving to the cloud. They also want to make customer service more efficient, shore up their cybersecurity, and learn how to bring more innovation into their day-to-day work—all of which are incredibly important.

Utilities, however, are constrained by tight budgets, a lack of resources to dedicate to technology, aging workforces, and a patchwork of regulatory controls.

A lack of resources means that many utilities must optimise the technology assets they already have. When asked where utilities need most help in 2019 with their technology, 50% said optimising current products, which was the top answer.

But that’s not to say utilities aren’t eyeing new technologies: 30% said they wanted help with exploring new products in 2019, while 20% wanted assistance in implementing new tech. In particular, respondents told us the following technologies were expected to impact the industry in 2019: analytics/dashboards (59%), internet of things (IoT) (39%), and conversational user interfaces (20%).

Data, Data Everywhere

Like most businesses today, SAP utilities customers know there’s value in the data they already have: Driving better decision-making through data is high on the list of priorities for utilities we surveyed.

Big data, for instance, is both a big challenge and big opportunity for utilities as the industry uses more connected devices that collect information 24/7. Smart meters, the smart grid, and IoT devices all generate large volumes of data. For this data to drive value, however, these customers need analytics, dashboards, and reporting to consolidate information and surface important insights.

SAP Technology Portfolios

Despite their interest in SAP’s next-generation ERP platform – SAP S/4HANA – the majority of SAP utilities customers are still on SAP ECC, at 71%. Approximately one-quarter (28%) of customers who participated in our study are currently live on SAP S/4HANA.

Compared with other industries, utilities companies use a greater variety of utilities-specific SAP products.

More than half (55%) depend on the industry-focused SAP Industry Solution for Utilities (SAP IS-U), and 44% are using SAP SuccessFactors for workforce management and support.

A Lack of IT Resources

A lack of resources to invest in maintaining or enhancing technology also concerns SAP utilities customers. They don’t have extra money to hire or train staff, a budget for upgrades, or the in-house talent to migrate to the newest systems.

For example, 61% of those who have already completed their SAP S/4HANA transition found “lack of skilled staff” to be a challenge.

Many respondents operate in a reactive state. The essential nature of utilities, however, means they require 24/7 support. “As we shift to more 24/7 operations (customer self-care, etc.), we need to have support all of the time,” one respondent wrote.

For more insights on the utilities, download the full report here: The State of Utilities Industry.

At the 12th annual SAP for Utilities conference, you’ll come together to discuss these topics and more, as well as connect with peers and experts who have solved similar challenges. You’ll hear real-world customer case studies from presenters representing all segments of the utilities industry such as Duke Energy, the City of San Diego, Snohomish County Public Utility District, E.ON, DC Water, and National Grid. SAP for Utilities will take place Oct. 21-23, 2019, at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego. Register for SAP for Utilities with promo code SENERGY19 to save $200.

Contact: Sarah Carr, SAP for Utilities Community Director

Phone: +1 914 509 5354

Website: https://sapforutilitiesconf.com