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Digitalization of the Energy Industry: Leading or Lagging behind?

The energy industry misses out on digitalization, is the eye-catching result from a recent Ardour Consulting survey among 61 industry board members and executives published in late 2016. The energy companies that took part in the survey confirmed that digitalization is explosive and necessary – so the danger has been recognised. It is, however, still to be avoided: 90 percent said that they do not follow a digital strategy. For Switzerland, statistics portal DeStatista paints a similar picture: Only 16 percent of the Swiss energy providers that took part in its survey considered their digitalization degree high. Is the energy industry really behind on digitalization?

Björn Bröhl, Head of Marketing Communications & Sales at Trivadis, doesn`t think so:

BJB_19x19 Klein.jpg“The energy industry will be digitally transformed as well – in Germany, Europe, and everywhere else. Digitalization, the Internet of Things (IoT), Industry 4.0, and Big Data are no future trends anymore. They have arrived in everyday life and can`t be argued away. For companies from any industry, these technological innovations mean great challenges as well as great opportunities. Energy providers can simplify and extend their business models with the Internet of Things, Big Data Analytics, etc. in order to secure competitive advantages and position themselves for the future. The great test for energy companies is to not only come to terms with new developments within the existing framework but to take active steps into the digital future with new business models.

The First Digitalization Projects Have Already Been Realised

Contrary to what the survey results suggest, the German energy industry is not in a deep sleep. We have already realised various projects with customers from different parts of the energy industry in Germany and Switzerland. One example would be the intelligent Big Data solution developed with a German transmission system operator. It collects, archives, and analyses all data necessary for monitoring and controlling a power grid. The successful cooperation began in 2012 with the development and implementation of a process data archive. It now comfortably handles general queries on grid operation that used to be delivered by grid control trough a complex and inefficient process. The range of applications constantly extends itself through further development and the joining of data and information from other systems which also makes possible deriving insights for new attractive offers to end customers – and the solution`s potential is still a long way from exhaustion.

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Successful Creation of an IoT Wind Farm

Another project for Swiss energy provider IWB clearly shows where the development is headed: The company now runs the first productive IoT platform in Switzerland based on Microsoft Azure Cloud. It uses the solution to monitor the energy production of its wind farms across countries and in real time and to make energy trading more efficient. Additionally, the wind farm`s as well as an individual turbine`s current energy production are always consistent and transparent despite sometimes considerable technological differences. In case of malfunction, the company can get active without delay.

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These examples show that the energy industry is in fact up-to-date and that individual digitalization projects have already been realised. Consequently, we cannot confirm the dark picture painted by the surveys on the digitalization degree of the energy industry. It is clear that the fourth industrial revolution has not yet arrived in the energy industry as a whole – which is probably true for most industries. Here at Trivadis, we are seeing a growing demand for digitalization projects from the energy industry as well. This is a clear sign for us that the industry is on a good way into the digital future.”

 

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Topics: Digital Business Transformation Comment Internet of Things