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Are your IT Leaders capable of navigating your Digital Energy Transformation?

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Wayne Pales's picture
I help CIOs build IT Leadership Teams capable of delivering the Digital Energy Transformation The Chapel Group

Hi, I’m Wayne, a senior technology leader and energy expert passionate about playing my part in creating a low cost and sustainable energy future.In 2019, I left the corporate world to be a stay...

  • Member since 2016
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  • Nov 10, 2020

In December 2019, two months after leaving my role as GM of Technology Strategy at the Australian Energy Market Operator, I started the research on my third book, a follow up to ‘The Digital Utility’.  At that time, the working title was ‘The Distributed Utility’ and the book was to focus on the technology decisions energy companies needed to make to leverage the massive growth we see in distributed energy resources.

I spent the next few months talking to peers and reading a range of books such as Ray Kurzweil’s ‘The Singularity’, Ross Garnaut’s ‘The Superpower’, Gretchen Bakke’s ‘The Grid’ and several more.  Reflecting on what I had read, I concluded that the industry did not need another book about the future of energy.

However, through my research, I did find a massive gap between those thought leaders that envision a digital energy future and the capabilities of the IT Leaders we need to bring much of this vision to a reality.

The realisation that such a massive gap exists has taken my book research on a new and exciting path.  Energy companies are fast developing strategies to describe a future that embraces distributed energy resources.  The IT departments within those energy companies are creating plans to build the necessary digital capabilities.  Some are venturing as far as designing new IT Operating Models to support these future ways of working.  From conversations with industry peers, none appear to have spent time looking at what capabilities each member of their IT Leadership Team must have to support their organisation on this transformational journey.  

Why is this such a concern to me?  While CIO’s set the technology direction for the organisation, it is their direct reports that make dozens of decisions every day that ultimately determine the success of the IT component of an organisation’s strategy.

So my third book, which has no working title yet, will look at how CIO’s can build IT Leadership Teams that are capable of delivering an organisation’s Digital Energy Transformation.

If you are a CIO and would like to take part in my book research, please email me at

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Nov 10, 2020

 Reflecting on what I had read, I concluded that the industry did not need another book about the future of energy.

What's interesting though is when you pick up those 'future of energy books' just a few years after they're written, you can immediately identify the change in thinking that's happened since then. For such a historically slow-to-move industry, the utilities are advancing quickly in thinking and action. I think the angle you're talking about is definitely one that will define the coming years, Wayne, so I'm eager to hear your ultimate insights!

Wayne Pales's picture
Wayne Pales on Nov 10, 2020

Thanks Matt, I struggled with being so bold as to say the industry does not need another book on the future of energy. As you correctly state, we are moving so fast that as things change and as we learn, sharing those insights are useful.  For me though, I am seeing that vision is moving faster than the capabilities of the IT leadership teams expected to get us there and this is leading to sub-optimal decisions.  Ultimately meaning reality is not aligning with the vision.   Thanks again for the comment. 

Matt Acton's picture
Matt Acton on Nov 13, 2020

Hi Wayne,

In considering "how CIO’s can build IT Leadership Teams that are capable of delivering an organisation’s Digital Energy Transformation", I'm guessing you saw at AEMO, but there's a convergence happening - the leadership team needs the blend of understanding:

  • IT's governance, architecture, sourcing models and project delivery
  • OT's use cases, technologies and business relationships

The IT leadership team to effectively manage resources, retain internal Intellectual Property, strategy, use cases (ISO 55000 vs ITIL) and ability to "police" technology operations.

I think there's a space here for your book idea, Gartner has some good papers, but usually as IT looking in perspective; rather than real-world understanding the people / process / systems / assets lense of a full digital energy transformation (in the sense of applications and data packet flow from energy market to operators to primary plant/switchgear to workforce).

Looking forward to your research findings and summary, happy to discuss further, Matt

Wayne Pales's picture
Wayne Pales on Nov 14, 2020

Thanks Matt, I will certainly reach out for a chat.  I agree entirely and in fact this will be a part of the book.  People have been talking about IT / OT convergence for years.  Within our industry that was mostly about the fact that OT was moving to IP-based solutions and starting to network what was previously air-gapped solutions.  Such convergence has been very slow in actually happening and to be honest I still see two dividided camps that may talk of collaboration and cooperation, but in reality they want to remain seperate.  In the mix now is IoT being used by both the OT teams on their networks, but also by consumers.  In my opinion a Senior IT Leader worth their salt within utilities must respect and understand OT.  The challenge in many organisations is not a technical one.  First steps are to ensure shared understanding, mutual respect, and earning each others trust.  Cheers

Wayne Pales's picture
Thank Wayne for the Post!
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