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On utility concerns, mobile and IoT

"Today's word is capability," said Kevin Prouty, VP of Energy Insights at IDC on the second day of the Mobile Utility Summit 2016 in Denver this morning.

"Can you get things done?" he continued. "Do you have the information, the access to the information and the support?"

Prouty gave a short overview of the utility challenges today: regulatory issues, competitive tech, demographics, cost recovery models and pricing issues. Despite these issues, when IDC asked utility executives about whether they feel good about where the industry is headed, most in North America have a positive view (at nearly 56%). 

The top investment priorities for those executives is heavily big data and analytics, according to their research, followed by traditional IT, mobile, the cloud, social technologies and IoT.

Looking specifically at mobility in that list (and buyer behavior), nearly 60% of utilities have deployed some mobile and nearly 40% are still researching. If they are making/buying something mobile, a bit over a third are looking outward to customers, over 40 are for employees and partners (and a quarter are for doing both). Thirty-three percent are developing things internally. Twenty-seven percent are pulling things off the shelf and 40% use a third party with their mobile approach.

Nearly 40% of survey participants said that mobility is a top priority with the biggest numbers in customer billing and field force enablement.  And 34% had at least two projects underway. 

When diving even deeper into what mobile applications can do---what you might call "mobile impact"---Prouty discussed one item specifically: mobile workforce management, and how with one utility, the main reason they put the systems in (for contractor management) didn't make the biggest benefits list. That reason was still important, but the utility got a huge boost in other ways: The list was topped by increased field technician productivity and decreased service order close time. 

Farther down that utility investment list is IoT, or the Internet of Things. According to Prouty, the average company expects to manage a network of 60,000 IoT devices, and the real key to having IoT really impact utilities is real intelligence (such as articifical intelligence).  

With personal thoughts on IoT, there is "jockeying," as Prouty said, between it being a consumer tech or a business tech. And, unusally, IoT is both. For the utilities industry, some already in-process apps are IoT, such as smart grid and smart buidlings.

And, when talking to utilities, nearly 75% do recognize the growing importance of IoT, Prouty noted.  Only 20% think it's moderately important and a very, very small slice think slighty or not at all. 

With deployed or planned IoT devices within utilities, the largest number is still around security systems, followed by people tracking (which could be security or safety related) and energy management, according to recent IDC research.

The largest IoT concern within utilities is still security, followed closely by costs. 

And who drives IoT within utilities? No surprise. It's IT.

What will IoT enable (especially with C&I customers)? Microgrids as a service, energy mangement service and energy consolidation service. 

"These ideas cannot happen without the Internet of Things and mobility," Prouty said. "It's that simple."

 

More from the Summit:

 

 

 

Kathleen Wolf Davis's picture

Thank Kathleen for the Post!

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