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Kate Stone
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July 02, 2019

The Energy Industry and IT: The Three Most Significant Digital Transformation Challenges

As energy companies embrace digital transformation, IT professionals are tasked with the complex challenge of modernizing their companies’ operations.

Not only must IT professionals overhaul critical operations, they also have to navigate numerous risks—including maintaining network security, supporting grid stability, and controlling data access, to name a few. On top of that, these upgrades need to occur behind the scenes, without any disruption to customers.

Despite these challenges, the energy industry is moving full-steam ahead when it comes to digitalization. Energy industry IT professionals and the companies they represent must adapt with the times. Otherwise, their businesses may become obsolete.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most significant challenges faced by IT professionals in the energy industry today.

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Harnessing the Internet of Things (IoT)

As the cost of IoT devices continues to decrease, energy companies are scrambling to build them into the fold.

Cutting-edge IoT technologies like smart meters can lower costs and boost productivity for energy companies. One study, for example, predicts that globally, smart meter implementation will deliver savings of nearly $160 billion.

However, some IT professionals are finding it difficult to implement an effective IoT strategy due to limited budgets. The same study indicates that the costs of implementing smart meters will exceed $100 billion.

IT professionals also face difficulties when upper management hasn’t fully embraced digital transformation. In order to realize the full promise of a smart grid, for example, many other expensive upgrades have to take place—such as real-time demand response, integrated communications, sensing and measurement, Phasor Measurement Units, and power system automation, to name a few.

What’s more, in order to analyze and respond to all of the data that’s being collected from IoT devices, IT professionals must also implement a centralized management platform and cloud storage—and some are feeling overwhelmed about having to store all of that data.

Building a positive customer experience

Gone are the days when energy consumers were happy plugging in their halogen desk lamps and paying their electric bills at the end of the month.

According to Ian Wright, CMO at Deloitte, customers want energy efficiency programs, information, and choices, and they want their energy providers to help with all of these things.

Providing choices, information, and transparency to the consumer is a tricky process. In the real world, it means that energy industry IT professionals must build and maintain reliable consumer-facing apps and web portals that allow customers to view energy usage and learn how to optimize their energy consumption. Customers will also expect to be able to contact customer support and securely pay their bills.

According to an IBM study, the cost of building a bad app is devastating. Believe it or not, 47% of consumers will switch to the competition and 63% of consumers will tell their friends about their bad experience.

All of this responsibility falls directly on energy industry IT professionals.

Cybersecurity risks

As you might expect, cybersecurity is a major concern among energy industry CEOs and IT professionals. In fact, a recent study by KPMG revealed that 48% of energy industry CEOs estimate they will be targeted by a cyberattack.

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The Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER), advises IT professionals to implement a robust cybersecurity risk management process that includes bi-directional risk information sharing and integrates with the electricity subsector cybersecurity capability maturity model (C2M2).

There are also common sense cybersecurity tactics that IT professionals should deploy such as biometric scanning, enacting strong password policies across employee devices, and utilizing next-generation VPN technology, among other things.

Why energy industry IT professionals love no-code apps

Energy companies of all shapes and sizes are building custom no-code apps to lower costs, bolster security, and increase employee engagement.

Not only do no-code platforms enable virtually any employee to create apps that revolutionize their businesses, they also allow for employees to stay connected with management via GPS capture and cloud integration.

As an example, M&O Partners is a multinational sales hub that connects off-shore oil and gas buyers and suppliers. The company uses AppSheet to coordinate project management across 100 partnerships in 10 global markets.

Another example is Northwest Edison, a smart lighting contractor that uses AppSheet to manage its concurrent projects and track its workflows.

To learn more about how AppSheet can be customized to suit your energy business, drop us a line. We look forward to hearing from you!

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