Digital transformation encourages utilities to seek ways to modernize their operational processes and cut costs by up to 25%. And this bodes well with the fact that PwC outlines — utility companies must adhere to a coherent strategy for service and product development and furnish a mechanism for enhancing customer experiences.
To that end, these top use cases serve as inspiration for digital transformation for utilities.
1. Power Outage Prediction and Detection
The traditional power company model has relied on human operators to monitor the grid. This can be costly and time-consuming. Therefore, the utilities sector is turning to AI to predict and detect power outages. AI can monitor and analyze data from smart meters, substation sensors, and even weather forecasts to predict when a power outage might occur. If a grid goes down, AI can also spot it quickly and dispatch workers to fix the problem.
This can help utilities manage the risk of blackouts, prevent them from happening altogether, or even reduce their duration once they occur by ensuring that the appropriate resources are in place.
2. Equipment Maintenance and Efficiency
Utilities are always trying to keep their equipment running at peak performance. They need to ensure that their systems are safe, reliable, and efficient for their customers. This involves a lot of maintenance and upkeep: scheduled inspections, preventive maintenance, and repairs (if necessary).
There are several ways digital transformation can help utilities with this. For example, some companies have started using drones to inspect their power lines from above—a more efficient way for them to do so than sending humans up in helicopters or on foot. The drones can also be equipped with sensors to detect problems before they happen. That way, when an issue arises, utilities can respond quickly and efficiently without committing someone out into dangerous situations.
Another way digital transformation can help is through predictive analytics systems that alert engineers to potential problems before they transpire. In essence, it allows engineers to reduce the time it takes to repair equipment and ensure that their crews have the right tools and equipment to get the job done.
3. Effective Load Management
Effective load management is one of the most significant areas where utilities can benefit from digital transformation.
It’s not just about using a smart grid to manage the energy use of individual households – though that is an integral part of the process. It’s also about using data analytics to help utilities predict when and where there will be energy shortages and ensure they have enough power available at any given time.
Using data analytics in this way can help protect against blackouts, reduce costs for all customers by reducing peak load times, and even save lives by ensuring that hospitals have enough power during emergencies.
4. Customer Service & Experience Enhancement
The customer experience is among the most critical concerns for businesses in the digital age, and utilities are no exception. As more customers move online to manage their accounts and pay their bills, utilities must be ready to provide a seamless experience. And that means delivering high-quality customer service via digital channels while also communicating with customers via traditional phone lines.
To improve customer service and ensure smooth operations, utilities must deploy solutions that can handle communication across channels and contribute to the enterprise’s management capabilities.
Some examples include:
By using chatbots, customers can get answers to their questions without committing to the hassle of connecting with human representatives. This has the benefit of reducing the number of calls to a call center (which is otherwise expensive for companies). This also reduces the time needed for resolution. The bots can provide tailored responses, which are especially helpful for redundant questions.
- Self-service Portals
Many utilities offer online portals where customers can view their account information, make payments, and even track their energy use. These self-service portals can be accessed 24/7 by customers with a login and password, making the process of managing their accounts easier.
5. Asset Management
By digitizing assets and their life cycles, utilities can better understand how long each asset will last, when it is due for maintenance or replacement, and what it might cost to repair or replace. By using this type of data, they can make better decisions about where to invest money in new infrastructure, leading to greater efficiency.
What Does the Future Look Like?
As technology continues to advance, utility companies have been forced to adapt. The industry’s future is digital transformation—a shift toward home automation and smart grids that make utilities more efficient, reliable, and safe for customers.
The benefits of this transition for customers are clear: better service and lower costs. For example, smart meters can help consumers understand their energy usage patterns and realize where they can optimize the same. The same goes for water usage—smart meters can help people manage their water use to avoid high bills and drought conditions in certain areas.
While these changes may seem small at first glance, they have the potential to transform industries by making processes more efficient, streamlining business operations, and improving customer satisfaction across the board.
Digital transformation is not a gimmick. It is an ongoing, pervasive process that must be part of the DNA of utilities in order to stay relevant. The numbers and examples clearly show the benefits of this transformation: increased safety, higher availability, improved service quality, and transparent operations with strong cost control.
Discover how digitization can add value to your operations by connecting with experts at Sagacity.