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IS YOUR UTILITY PLAYING FOR TEAM FLINTSTONE OR TEAM JETSON? The dearth of updated IT infrastructure leaves many in The Stone Age

Steven Dawson's picture
VP & Country Manager, powercloud North America, powercloud Americas Inc.

Steven Dawson, VP & Country Manager at powercloud Americas Inc. brings more than +15 years of experience in the IT industry, working for companies as SAP, Oracle, and Genesys. In 2019, he...

  • Member since 2021
  • 4 items added with 638 views
  • Aug 20, 2021

Sometimes, the best teachers of history are Saturday morning cartoons. 

The Super Friends taught us about good versus evil. 

With the help of Backpack, Map and the rest of her friends, Dora The Explorer showed that you can find your way through any obstacle..

And Barney taught us to always be happy no matter the situation ( I cannot believe I made a Barney reference at work!).

But we energy and utility professionals could learn a few things from The Flintstones--and even more from The Jetsons. We are waged in a Stone Age vs Eye on the Future debate when it comes to the back office systems of our world’s energy and utility companies, yet many companies are complacent with Flintstone-like systems that don’t meet today’s customer needs. 

Forasmuch as we talk about our focus on the future, many North American utility and energy companies have antiquated infrastructures. The tools and resources that utilities use to deliver energy are either modernized or being updated, but what about CRM systems?  What about billing and customer service?

It’s not just me asking these questions.  In an April 2019 report, Deloitte asked energy executives to prioritize business operations over the next three to 5 years.  Their responses were heavily weighted toward improving productivity, reliability, and operational efficiency, while they ranked using insights from advanced analytics to better manage new resources slightly below.  And yet here we are, with a solution sitting in front of us that can address all of these needs in the cloud, and we’re not all taking advantage of it.

It may be a matter of costs.  It may also be a matter of change management.  But it is a matter that is front-and-center with how we operate, and our customers are asking us to get with the times.

A Yabba-Dabba-Do Solution Set

There’s a hint of irony in all of this discussion about utilities getting with the times--they’re already doing it!  With the rise of renewable energy, utility grids are leveraging the cloud to generate more computation power.  Still, we need to do more as an industry to get us over the finish line.  Here’s a guide on what you might want to ask your company to determine if they are “Team Flinstone” or “Team Jetson.”

First, assess your team’s productivity.  Connect with your operations, financial and human resources leaders to learn where and how people skills can be improved or optimized.  We all have processes and systems that can be improved, but we also have teams of people who we cannot forget are people and not machines…. assess the skills and aptitudes of your team to determine where machine learning and AI can supplement them--and not replace them.  It would be very easy for me to ask companies to think about the processes where AI and the cloud can create more efficiencies; truth be told, that is a lot of what we and others in the space do each day.  But we also believe that people are assets and not expenses--we want to find ways for technology to compliment people in current roles so that both people and technology are stronger, together. 

Once people and process are aligned, then start talking about where and how cost efficiencies can be achieved with cloud technology.  You may have noted above that I asked about human resources, finance and operations being involved.  The reality is that all business processes could benefit from the cloud and AI, but starting with those three functions will allow for the best learning and education to take place.  Each of them can catalyze other functions that they touch to use technology more effectively.

The cloud offers a lot of great opportunities for energy and utility companies--even more than Saturday morning cartoons!

Steven Dawson is Vice President of Sales for powercloud North America.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 20, 2021

The reality is that all business processes could benefit from the cloud and AI, but starting with those three functions will allow for the best learning and education to take place

Interesting approach-- almost like you know once you give them a 'taste' of what's possible, they'll be coming back for more when the benefits are highlighted and the challenges are contextualized

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on Aug 23, 2021

In super Sunny Arizona we are still in the stone age for power and operations of the power GRID. There are lots of manual operations to do most tasks. About the only thing they have done is the smart meters on homes and business. 

Nevelyn Black's picture
Nevelyn Black on Aug 30, 2021

While these new technologies streamline electric utility operations perhaps they can also implement the security measures of the Batcave.  Regarding modernization and focusing on the future, utilities must future-proof vulnerable access points with a zero-trust approach.  Knowing what the main cloud security issues are will help address concerns and better prepare for attacks.

Steven Dawson's picture
Steven Dawson on Aug 31, 2021

Spot on @Nevelyn we must always secure the Batcave :) 


Paul Korzeniowski's picture
Paul Korzeniowski on Sep 21, 2021

Technology has evolved at a quick pace through the years, but the changes in the last five or so years have been monumental. The growth of cloud provided the volume of processing power, so applications, like AI could emerge. The shrinking of form factors provide us with smartphones that have the processing power once found in large data centers in our pockets. IoT is pushing intelligence down to new end points, so utilities can monitor the performance of their equipment in real time.  One of these changes would have been significant; all of them happening at the same time provide them with the ability to dramatically change their business processes. In sum, yes, utilities need to update their IT infrastructure ASAP in order to be like the Jetsons and not dinosaurs, in the Flinstones' time. 

Steven Dawson's picture
Steven Dawson on Oct 1, 2021

On point Paul! Couldn't have said it better!

Steven Dawson's picture
Thank Steven for the Post!
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