Published on in Energy & UtilitiesReshaping Business

We are in the midst of Industry 4.0”, a term being used to describe the transformation of every industry, from banking to retail, to healthcare, utilities and beyond.

The public is more digitally dependent than ever before. Each household in the UK already contains an average of seven connected devices.

People are becoming increasingly used to incorporating increasingly sophisticated digital technology into their daily lives. And if that’s the experience they’re having at home, why wouldn’t they expect the same at work?

The utilities industry is no exception to this. The implementation of digital technology presents a huge opportunity improving services in the sector and changing the way utilities companies run.

The demands of the digital consumer

There’s a mounting pressure for utilities companies to digitally advance and improve their services. One in five people always opt for a digital service first when made available, according to our research.

So it’s clear utility companies need to make the most of digital to better serve their customers, whether that means rolling out real-time smart metering or providing online payment facilities or instant online customer service.

We’re seeing a growing demand for utility companies to make more digital progress. Not just from customers, but also employees who believe digital will help drive the future success of the business.

The increasingly digitally savvy employee

As Generation Z enters the world of work for the first time, the workforce will become increasingly digitally native.

These are people who have grown up surrounded by technology, not knowing a time without the internet. Digital is almost second nature to them.

This massively changes their expectations in work, to the point where some choose not to join an industry unless it is digitally enabled.

Companies need to supply this group with the technology that allows them to work in the way they want to.

As the workforce becomes increasingly digitally-savvy, the pressure on utility companies to supply this technology will inevitably mount in tandem with customers demanding the same.

It’s imperative utilities firms provide their employees with the right tools while also enabling engineers to carry out daily tasks in smarter ways.

Streamlining into a connected business

The internet of things creates the opportunity for utilities firms to connect assets and gather and analyse data in real-time to create valuable insights. These insights can then be used to improve efficiency, productivity and overall quality of service.

Attaching sensors to devices and appliances, for example, can send a pre-emptive alert if that device is going to fail or become inefficient.

This automatically calls out for an engineer, saving both time and money for companies and the customer.

Customers can have maintenance performed on their appliances before any damage occurs, providing more efficient. And thanks to this real-time efficiency, utilities companies can change the way they work from time-based to condition-based maintenance.

This changes the nature of work from checking and monitoring of components to a much more automated system.

Where in the past engineers would have to wait until things failed before fixing them (which often has a negative impact on the customer), with better data and connectivity they can now focus on keeping things working instead.

Real-time data and alerts enable utilities companies and its engineers to provide a more proactive service that will build and strengthen relationships with its customers.

In such a competitive market, personalised services such as these will set utilities companies apart from their competitors.

The might of a connected engineer

Through digitising the business, utilities companies can empower all employees with access to the right information and equipment at the right time.

Connecting the workforce enables better decision-making through connected intelligence. Thanks to a new ‘connected engineer’, they will help build a connected infrastructure that drives operational excellence.

This approach allows organisations to connect their workforce through technology, attracting the next generation into the workforce and delivering great services to employees and customers alike.

Liked this piece and want to know some more? Check out: ‘Unlocking the reality of an always connected workforce’.

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Graeme Wright

Chief Digital Officer, Manufacturing, Utilities, and Services, UK and Ireland at Fujitsu
Graeme Wright is CTO for Manufacturing, Utilities and Services at Fujitsu in the UK and Ireland, and has been at the company for 17 years. Graeme leads the business development for the sector, and is specifically focused on IoT, analytics and smart technologies. His role involves exploring how they can be used to devise solutions in the energy and utilities, as well as the built environment sectors to optimise asset management and deliver a step change in business performance.

Graeme has a first degree in Computing Science and a Masters in Business Administration. He has successfully used his experience and knowledge of both business and technology to deliver IT enabled change for many organisations. Outside of work, Graeme has completed a project to build his own house and plays regularly in a band.

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