The Kodak moment
image credit: Photo 153256818 © Anil Dave - Dreamstime
- Sep 20, 2019 7:49 pm GMTSep 20, 2019 7:48 pm GMT
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This item is part of the Special Issue - 2019-09 - Blockchain in Utilities, click here for more
There comes a time in every industry, lifecycle and business where a paradigm shift needs to occur.
For businesses that have huge investments in their infrastructure, that are often by their nature conservative - such as electric utilities; Paradigm Shifts take a large amount of courage, thought, leadership and risk in order to get it right and invest ahead of the curve.
On the flip side here are many tombstones of companies that have failed to embrace these shifts and adapt their business to a technology or paradigm shift in how their businesses are run.
Kodak, Blockbuster, Sears, and Smith Corona are all examples of this, to name a few. All fascinating case studies with different lessons learned that we can learn from.
However, that time is here for the utility industry - Our Kodak moment
Blockchain is one of many technologies set to disrupt the energy industry. With demand side management, renewable energy growth, data hungry customers, distributed generation and a younger tech savvy workforce - Utilities needs to adapt, change and embrace the blockchain.
How might the blockchain be used in the utility industry:
- Imagine a system that allows electrons to be tracked via the blockchain. If you are a consumer and you pay a premium for renewable energy from your regions latest wind farm. Are you really consuming the premium energy that you paid for?
Of course not, but what if we could stamp each electron with a blockchain identifier and start to control where the electrons go over the transmission network and ultimately where they end up?
- If I am a bulk customer and I want to track energy usage through my operation. How about comparing specific energy components of my operations across the country? The blockchain provides a potentially unique monitoring system in an extremely cost-effective manner, allowing a method to monitor and track.
What if utilities could start to provide this valuable insight into customers businesses, using our electrons and the blockchain. This opens new revenue generating ideas of a subscription-based model and more value for our customers
It is impetrative as a utility industry, even more so as an investor owned utility, that Executives start to dream about the possibilities and head down a path of developing these ideas. If not, our stakeholders, investors, customers and younger employees will start looking elsewhere. The stale unadaptable companies will become obsolete and your organization will of course be experiencing a ‘Kodak moment’.
How might we as an industry get our heads around this challenge and opportunity:
- Industry driven research and development. As an industry we need to set the parameters of technology development but not be afraid to step outside the box of our traditional comfort zone. Partnerships with research industries, industry networks and think tanks are key but this needs to be market driven as it is not about just about publishing academic papers in a journal. It is developing real world solutions in order to survive.
- Collaboration. The utility industry globally has a great track record of collaboration. This is a key strength that we have. As a group of similar minded people all in the same situation we can compare, learn and adapt from each other. Look past the Continent, utility companies in Europe, Asia and the South Pacific are all doing some incredible things. We are all in the same boat, we can learn form each other.
- Engage our younger colleagues. There are many smart ‘kids’ in your organizations. They don’t come to the table with 20 years of preconceptions, they wonder about why we don’t do things that are obvious to them. Sure, some of the ideas may be laughable and impractical but they are the future, so help them shape their future.
- Embrace our conservatism as an industry. There are many good reasons why we are conservative by nature as individuals and companies, but conservative and risk adverse doesn’t mean stuffy and unwilling to change.
As the bitcoin craze dies down and the blockchain concept becomes more mainstream our colleagues in the financial services and health care industries are all ahead of the curve, it is now time for utility executives to embrace, change and adapt to avoid their own Kodak moment.