Utilities have begun adopting cloud-based capabilities across a cluster of key business functions such as customer experience, asset management, and reliability reporting. For a deeper look at how more and more utilities have overcome initial challenges to begin “flying to the cloud,” please see our blog here.
After some foundational cloud-based capabilities have been implemented, where should utilities look to go next in their cloud journey? In this blog, we explore the answer. Beyond any specific feature or capability, the cloud should enable greater organizational agility for years to come, allowing utilities to meet dynamic new business challenges while keeping IT costs closely aligned to specific operational requirements.
Utilities are already investing in cloud-based capabilities, particularly common initial projects including:
As these initial projects mature, utilities will begin to look at where to go next in their cloud journey. Continually expanding employment of IoT-based solutions will drive growing demands on data infrastructure (and the analytics platforms needed to translate this data into actionable intelligence). As this infrastructure expands, utilities will have the opportunity to further leverage their cloud investments through capabilities such as workflow/process automation. We explore operational automation for utilities in more depth in our article here.
For example, utility customer service organizations process huge volumes of routine customer communications, both outgoing (i.e., service interruption notices, late payment reminders) and incoming (start/stops, notices of downed lines, etc.). Process automation solutions can handle large volumes of these communications with virtually zero ongoing human supervision—freeing up human customer service representatives for more complex cases, ensuring faster communication times, and ultimately helping the organization intake and communicate time-sensitive information more responsively than ever.
These efficiencies will be critical to meeting regulatory service level requirements, while reduced system patch cycles for cloud-based tools can help rapidly resolve data reporting issues. And, with the cloud, key workflows can be economically scaled up in high-demand periods (such as in stormy weather) and scaled down to save on infrastructure costs when extra users are not required. These benefits simply cannot be economically achieved without the help of the cloud. Scaling up the on-site data and computing infrastructure and staff needed to support robust, real-time process automation capabilities would be unduly costly for virtually any utility. But cloud services providers benefit from economies of scale that allow them to provide the same capabilities for a fraction of the cost.
Looking forward, utilities should recognize that the cloud is about more than any one capability or set of capabilities. With its ability to facilitate rapid deployment, the cloud can support greater strategic agility for years to come. Modern technologies provide out-of-the-box solutions which enable customers to launch new features or updates within days—and often just hours. Modern cloud technologies should provide:
These benefits can drive substantial value for utilities, solving immediate, business-critical operational challenges (like improving customer experience) while setting the stage for future growth. By enabling enhanced technological capabilities without increased staffing and support requirements, the cloud offers a true win-win proposition.
For a deeper look at how to plan an effective cloud migration strategy, we recommend our whitepaper here. It focuses on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure as one example of a powerful platform capable of driving the benefits discussed in this blog, and the different pathways to cloud and hybrid-based solutions it enables. Or, reach out to our team to discuss the best way forward for your organization’s cloud strategy.