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Top five tech trends for the energy and utilities sector
Category: Blogs
Keywords: Infrastructure
Author: Richard Towey
Date Written: 29 August 2013
Title: Top five tech trends for the energy and utilities sector


Once criticised for being fairly conservative and slow-moving, even companies in the global energy and utility sector are waking up to the potential of technology in reducing costs, driving efficiency and enhancing their competitiveness.

The industry appears to be performing well in the face of adversity, facing up to tough challenges like ongoing environmental sensitivity and changing policymaker attitudes without allowing them to have an impact on business.

Analysts believe this defence been bolstered by a wide range of innovation from within and outside IT departments, with companies like Gartner even compiling lists of technology trends for the sector.

The firm's vice president Kristian Steenstrup claims an increasing number of public and private utilities are looking at technology to solve certain challenges. This has led to the seamless integration of digital systems in areas like customer management, with these delivering countless benefits for both company and client.

Here's a small selection of the industry's key technology trends for 2013 as highlighted by Gartner.

Social media

Social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus have long been touted as ideal platforms for driving customer acquisition and retention. Energy and utility firms have seemingly taken notice of this highly cost-effective method of engaging with consumers and turned to using social media themselves.

Not only this, many firms are now using social media to improve their internal utility business processes, whilst social media for outage communications is also rising in importance.

Use of sensors

Used extensively throughout the supply, transmission and distributions stages, sensor technology, particularly sensor fusion (the addition of digital signal processing software), is beginning to gain prominence across the sector. Through widespread utility is currently being challenged by requirements like electromagnetic shielding and remote access, technology companies are now finding ways of delivering solutions that mach these specific implementation requests.

Cloud computing

The utilities sector has swept security and reliability concerns to one side and seen huge potential in cloud solutions in areas such as smart meter, big data analytics and demand response coordination. Some of the early implementers have looked to the cloud in order to provide common application and data services to multiple utility entities, with early reports suggesting this has had minimal impact on their production systems.

In-memory computing (IMC)

The adoption of IMC application infrastructure technologies has grown rapidly over the last year, with IT organisations using their ability to support high-scale, high-throughput use cases for implementing their innovative scenarios. A prime example would be those that address the processing of the smart-grid-generated metering and real-time sensor data.

Mobile systems

Finally, there's the increasing use of mobile technology, which has been proven to lower costs and improve the accuracy and effectiveness of the field force. Mobile devices such as ruggedized laptops, PDAs and smartphones are gaining popularity around the sector, joined by are communication products such as GPS and high-speed terrestrial data networks like Wi-Fi.

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