The combined market values of two of Germany’s largest electric utilities have fallen 76 percent since the financial tsunami of 2008. Clearly, the energy and utilities space has not escaped the ill-effects of the global crisis. Volatile demand and shrinking budgets continue to hit companies hard. On the one hand operational costs refuse to go down, and on the other, improving efficiency, enhancing revenue and strengthening portfolio seem to be impossible tasks. In the midst of all this, there is the challenge of satisfying and retaining customers as well. In these difficult conditions I think that business agility solutions are a must-have for businesses.
Consider the oil and gas industry. We see a dip in energy sources, fluctuations in demand, heavy competition and dwindling manpower. There’s no option but to quickly adopt agility solutions. Take for instance the software platform. While most companies have already automated data collection, processing and analysis by means of software applications, what they now need to do is move towards private cloud for secured resource optimization and lowering operational costs.
Companies can also bring down data management costs by shifting vendor datasets to a cloud and focus more on internally derived data. Further, they can use APIs for derived data handling and Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) for presentation. And then of course, there are analytics software products, the holy grail of data-based decision-making. Many companies are already leveraging social media like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for a variety of reasons ranging from promoting environmental causes to engaging with customers and recruiting staff. I believe the next step should be to integrate customer communications with CRM systems. Business agility in operations is also vital considering that the oil and gas drilling is a high-risk process. Complex event processing (CEP) can help improve safety by providing timely alerts and rendering the alarm system foolproof.
Meanwhile, the electrical power industry, also in a state of flux, is occupied with lowering customer attrition levels and improving cross-sell capabilities. Companies in this space are using intelligent metering systems that help to calibrate demand response programs better and profile consumer usage accurately. Installation of smart grids along with cloud infrastructure and API management can help monitor real-time the massive loads of data generated. With cloud solutions, consumers can access their real-time energy consumption allowing them to control their usage better. They would surely like that. Further, CEP can enable electric power companies to be more responsive to dynamic conditions. An API management solution will aid outage management and maintenance.
To the petroleum industry, it offers real-time, device-agnostic visibility over the entire oilfield operation as well as refining and distribution activities. Companies can monitor upstream assets and chalk out maintenance strategies. For example, vehicle telematics enables effective allocation of resources such as equipment and crew, while the cloud helps save on infrastructure costs. The cloud benefits electrical power companies as well by facilitating efficient storage and processing of the huge chunks of data generated. Electric utilities can track real-time usage and business critical KPIs across devices. Further, agility solutions allow them to offer highly efficient demand generation services and carry on predictive maintenance activities. These solutions also make it possible to synchronize real-time monitoring of process flow across multiple systems. I am sure that this list will get longer as new technologies roll out
In today’s fast-changing scenario, the need for energy and utility companies to be nimble-footed is paramount. What is your take on agility in this space? Is there anything else you think companies can do to be more agile?