Utility Data: Moving to the Cloud – Part 1 of 3

May 19, 2016

Many electric companies are hesitant to move to the cloud because they do not know where to start in applying a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. In this series we look to provide insight into several factors contributing to the need for change.

Regardless of the size, scope or industry, businesses have a renewed interest in optimal efficiency at minimal expense. Some of this desire originates from building consumer expectations for immediacy and convenience of service, the rest from an operational need to avoid being in the red and, if possible, profit in an economy that is slowly regaining its foothold.

The utility sector is no exception. Ongoing plant retirements, modest sales, renewable energy integration and changing business strategies have been trending and are expected to affect the industry’s performance for years to come. As with other verticals, utilities have adopted technologies that assist in creating automation and consistency in response. Cloud solutions, specifically SaaS, have gained the most mentions, and for good reason. This approach affords the opportunity to centralize software and associated data to be hosted in the cloud, meaning utilities can outsource physical hardware plus the resources required to maintain and support software infrastructure to the SaaS provider.

One of the principal factors contributing to the need for change in how many utilities view cloud solutions is:

Compliance burden. Some experts suggest that compliance is utilities’ largest concern. The tightening of regulations on utilities was echoed in the Ernest & Young report “Business Pulse: Exploring the dual perspectives of the top 10 risks and opportunities of 2013 and beyond,” which addresses more significant risks and the opportunities they encounter. It states that executives interviewed find increasing challenges with the rate of change in compliance criteria. A utility that automates billing and payments functions is naturally streamlining its marketing, plus regulatory and compliance communication. Energy providers that innovate their billing and payments methods – opening up new conveniences and access to customers – will see the fruit of that investment beyond tangible ways.

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