Other top LOB solutions where utilities will invest are asset management and network automation and control
IDC in its IDC Energy Insights’, the latest annual survey of Western European utilities, reveals that the top 3 line-of-business solutions in which utilities are planning to invest in the next 12 months are customer care solutions with 55% respondents, followed by 54% in asset management and over 50% in network automation and control solutions.
The survey demonstrates that utilities have done a reasonable job of optimising their assets by doing more with less. But, they should think beyond short-term cost cutting and look for longer-term opportunities to make technology investments that support business strategies and goals, chiefly in areas including energy efficiency and demand response, intelligent grid, renewable energy, and carbon management, says the market research firm. Simultaneously, cloud and managed services offerings need to be considered as options to reduce capital expenditure and/or operating expenditure, it suggests.
According to IDC, utilities CIOs need to elaborate a highly selective IT strategy grounded on a deep understanding of future needs and the existing IT landscape to set IT on the right course for the immediate and long-term future. To achieve this, they must closely collaborate with LOB executives and jointly develop clear business cases to evaluate the TCO of different solutions. Moreover, participation in business case discussions and intelligent grid budget allocations should be done early. CIOs will need to work closely with business unit engineers to integrate data from operational technology such as SCADA and EMS with other IT applications.
The survey’s key findings show that security and storage software are currently considered to be the enterprise solutions with the widest span of adoption among Western European utility firms at 100% and 77.2%, respectively. It also notes that security solutions will continue to be a top investment priority for Western European utilities’ CIOs over the next one year.
Business intelligence and analytics and content management solutions are currently the solutions least implemented by Western European utilities, and no significant changes are expected over the next 12 months, despite a rising awareness and attention towards "Big Data" and the benefits of business analytics in general, the study found.
Utilities demonstrate a high level of adoption of LOB solutions. The top 3 LOB solutions to be invested in over the next 12 months are customer care, asset management and network automation and control. According to IDC, plant operations and grid maintenance solutions are the LOB solutions expected to be most invested in as a new solution (either as a replacement or first-time implementation) over the next 12 months by the Western European utilities industry at 21.6% and 20.6%, respectively.
IDC Energy Insights senior research analyst Gaia Gallotti said ICT is penetrating utilities’ business activity more profoundly and will play a pivotal role in enabling the implementation of next-generation utilities," said. "In the next 12 months, the top 3 line-of-business solutions to be invested in are customer care, asset management, and network automation and control. But in order to prepare better for future business and industry evolution, CIOs should also consider having a critical and profound revision of their enterprise information architecture," Galloti adds.