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Gwen Chen
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April 30, 2019

7 Digital Trends Transforming the Energy and Utilities Sector

Disruption in the energy and utilities sector is occurring at a rapid pace.

Advances in technology—including cloud computing, mobile apps, automation, big data, and the IoT—are dramatically changing the ways that energy companies do business.

How, specifically, are energy and utilities organizations changing because of technology?

AppSheet_Utility

Let’s take a look at seven current digital trends that are transforming how the energy and utilities sector operates:

1. AI is the new electricity 

Today’s leading energy companies are increasingly deploying artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to move faster, operate more efficiently, and make better decisions in less time.

One of the most obvious benefits of using AI is the ability to predict equipment failure before it happens. As a result, energy companies can schedule preventative maintenance or expedite repairs as needed. The result is better fault prediction and dynamic maintenance, enhanced investment optimization, and increased energy efficiency.

In the retail sector, AI is being used to predict a customer’s ability (or inability) to pay bills on time. 

2. Energy monitoring systems are increasing efficiency through better data collection

Energy companies are collecting massive amounts of data from sophisticated meters.

These sensors—which monitor variables such as applied power and the amount of electricity being consumed—are also becoming more affordable as a result of increased adoption.

3. Energy and utilities companies are embracing a “no-collar” workforce

A recent study by Deloitte revealed that a significant percentage of energy industry workers are eligible to retire in the next five years.

Companies are preparing for this transition by employing digital solutions such as automated calling systems and interactive chatbots. As a result, they are freeing up tons of time for their call centers, enabling fewer agents to focus on its most important customers—and with better customer service.

4. Technology is improving safety in high-risk worksites

Oil field workers have some of the most dangerous jobs in the world. To ensure worker safety, it is critical that employees are able to hear and see the dangers around them.

To that end, vehicles operating within oil fields are being equipped with smart reversing alarms. These cutting-edge alarm systems automatically adjust volume emission according to the surrounding ambient noise levels.

Additionally, instead of emitting the traditional “beep, beep” noise—which can be impossible to hear for employees wearing ear protection—the alarms emit a special sound frequency that’s easily detected through ear protection.

5. Cybersecurity is a top priority for energy industry CEOs

Cyberattacks are increasingly impacting energy companies. 

According to the Department of Homeland Security, hackers penetrated hundreds of U.S. power stations in 2018.

Thankfully, there were no major consequences—but the situation could have been catastrophic.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that nearly 50% of energy company CEOs consider a cyberattack to be inevitable, and 60% of CEOs believe that cybersecurity specialists are the most important new role in their industry.

6. Power plants can digitally clone themselves to improve operational efficiency

Using technology that was originally developed by NASA, power plants are able to produce “digital twins” of themselves to measure KPIs and gather insights on future business outcomes.

A recent study by Gartner predicts that within three to five years, there will be billions of digital twins across all industries.

7. Apps are increasing productivity and saving money for energy companies

Energy companies often have hundreds or even thousands of employees located all across the world. Delegating tasks, collecting data, and managing workflows are not easy—especially when using disparate platforms or paper-based management systems.

Recent advances in no-code apps significantly reduce the amount of time and money that it costs to build custom solutions. Now, energy companies no longer have to consult with third-party developers. Apps can be easily and cost-effectively designed in house, leveraging citizen developers, i.e., ordinary employees who are empowered to create digital tools.

One example of an energy provider that is using custom apps to improve its processes is M&O Partners, a multinational offshore oil and gas sales hub. The company uses AppSheet’s no-code platform to manage custom apps in areas such as project implementation, process management, and network management, among others.

M&O partners has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by developing their own apps instead of hiring expensive developers—and your company can, too.

To learn more about how your energy or utilities company can develop no-code apps platform, contact our sales team.

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