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Opening up new possibilities for utilities

The transformation in the utilities industry presents tremendous opportunities. In order to adapt to changing industry demands, companies need to migrate to more cloud-based solutions and leverage the power of data from smart meters.

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Iris Harel, Regional CBE - MTO and New Logos

Amdocs

02 Feb 2022

Opening up new possibilities for utilities

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There's a clear way for utilities and energy companies to create more targeted offerings, increase customer loyalty, reduce carbon emissions and enhance the reliability and security of the smart grid.

CSPs also ready know that the path to increased customer loyalty and monetization lies in sophisticated data analytics and future-proofed networks. But what about utility companies?
By emulating CSPs, these companies too have the power to achieve such wins – without re-inventing the wheel.

Indeed, if utilities want to adapt to the rapidly changing demands of their industry, they have little choice but to rapidly transform by adopting cloud-based solutions. From the very beginning, these companies will need to pursue strategic alliances with the cloud hyperscalers, combined with strong security offerings, data mining products and billing presentment tools.

It’s a worthwhile investment. If they can successfully leverage the power of the data they currently have from smart meters, it opens the path to creating more targeted offerings and increasing customer loyalty, even within their compliance regulatory environment. From there, the sky is the limit.

There are a number of key areas Amdocs has identified as opportunities for utilities to optimize their data investments and improve their customer experience. Let’s explore three of the most important: customer experience, cloud & IOT security and grid automation.

1. Customer Experience 2.0

Utilities have yet to segment their data at a level where personalization is possible. While they may not be trying to actively sell customers anything but one core product, they still want to promote other special services – such as energy efficiency programs and rebates. So for example, they may want to showcase energy assistance programs to those who are delinquent in their bills. And much like CSPs, to offer the right services to the right customers, they’ll want to track customer behavior data (such as from AMIs) to create customized bills with specific messaging aimed at different segments.

Emulating CSPs will enable these companies to adopt their successful best practices, such as data optimization. Yet in contrast to CSPs, utilities will also need to learn how to leverage this data without raising the “big brother” alarm. Finding a partner who can help navigate this challenge is important, and will involve optimizing existing network infrastructure investments to ensure that data is secure during the analytics process, including:

  • Cleaning and segmenting data based on business requirements for customer outreach
  • Distributing that segmented data across the organization—from the call center to marketing, so all units are consistent in their communications with customers
  • Further aggregating internal information and bundled services and programs for increased program participation
  • Managing multiple aspects of the customer communications process to ensure that not only the message is consistent, but also the look and feel
  • Leveraging data to identify lost revenue and generate new revenue streams by matching customers to preferences, particularly targeting delinquent customers with programs such as pre-pay or fixed bill

2. Cloud and IoT Security

Like CPSs, one of the biggest concerns utility companies currently face when migrating to the cloud is the vulnerability of cloud-based applications and data privacy. This is particularly true due to the massive amounts of AMI usage data involved. To allay these concerns, they will want answers to the following:

  • How can we secure the grid network to avoid outside hacking?
  • How can we leverage the cloud to increase agility and innovation?
  • How can we protect customer data in a world of third-party sharing?

And once they’re on the cloud, they’ll want to know how they can adopt IoT and develop new services behind the meter to expand their footprint in ways that were never before possible. For example, IoT allows them to play an important role as prime supplier across both horizontal and vertical domains (on-prem or on-cloud). By harnessing the power of automation, they can drive load reduction, increase viability of microgrid and battery storage, drive proliferation of electric vehicles and empower customers through improved demand side management. This requires solutions such as data analytics, personalization and security.

3. Grid Automation

More uniquely to utilities, smart grids have created a host of additional challenges due to the incorporation of diverse sources of renewable sources and increased load demands. A key objective in meeting these challenges lies in more effective network automation, with the following benefits:

  • Ability to penetrate all stages of the services lifecycle
  • Streamlining of systems and significantly increasing productivity by integrating disparate systems
  • Ability to provide vastly improved customer experience.

Despite their differences, utilities have much to learn from the success of CSPs when it comes to data analytics. Making the step to effective monetization isn’t as big is you might think.

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