Why utility companies must harness the power of the cloud

Among the incumbent utility and power companies, we find some of the slowest adopters of digital transformation in any industry. When you speak to IT leads, CTOs and Transformation Directors, it is clear they all know it is a huge issue but they have not yet found enough time, CEO support and money to change as fast as they must.

Whether energy, water, gas or even the big oil drillers, these legacy companies still have a major legacy IT problem; hosting their IT in a backroom somewhere on-premises. But to cope with the threat of new digital challengers and start-ups entering their space, they will have to embrace a move to the cloud as soon as possible.

The cloud offers them a flexible solution to build for their own requirements, adding scale as and when needed to meet business and consumer demand. Contrary to much of the industry's current thinking, it does not have to be prohibitively expensive either, or take up massive amounts of in-house time; not when they work with a trusted partner in the cloud-hosting space who can handle the whole process.

Utility companies need to, and rightly want to, spend more time focusing on changing business models and meeting customers’ demands rather than wasting energy and financial resource supporting old IT systems just to keep them ticking over.

It takes a brave CTO to admit that time is of the essence for a move to the cloud and make it a critical business priority. But it really is one. Consumers demand more digital engagement with bills, usage and customer service. Suppliers too want new cost-effective ways to engage and keep their costs low.

A move to the cloud is the first place to start in this transformation process, allowing incumbent utility companies to build out software applications that work seamlessly and quickly across all areas of their business, driving bigger profits while also reducing waste. Hosting on-premises though hampers such efforts. It means struggling to compete with new entrants and challengers to the market who have built their back-ends straight into the cloud from day one; outsourcing the management and maintenance of it.

In all other industries, we see customers and technology getting smarter around digital but among those working in the utilities arena, this is not happening fast enough to meet the opportunities on offer. When I speak to IT directors and digital transformation directors, I hear how many believe they are already on this journey but are struggling with the whole migration exercise. They have been stuck doing things the old-fashioned way and while they have the capital, they worry about the risk of spending large sums of money to move into this outsourced world. However, they also clearly see how it can work because they observe the new digitally-led entrants taking their business through a focus on the customer rather than on the IT.

We have not even touched upon the importance of security yet. With cyber threats weighing heavy on the minds of utility companies - who are at an increased risk of attack - cloud-based infrastructure can deliver a far more robust and agile solution to face down breaches when they occur. The fallout from a cyber attack within the utilities sector could be catastrophic. Such hard threats run alongside the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which means security of utility company customer data must be paramount; stored even more safely and securely than ever before.

We all know a move to the cloud is inevitable for every company at some point in its life-cycle. Given the inherent issues and problems within the utilities, not doing so very soon will only cause a major power loss for their leading incumbent positions. To find more, or about out how CenturyLink can help you with your challenges, get in touch here.

Digital Transformation Power and Utilities

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