The energy sector is predicted to invest $64 billion in digitalization technology by 2025. Several factors have driven the industry to embrace digital solutions, including changing business models and emerging technologies such as IoT. The renewable market has been at the forefront of these changes. The renewables sector is transforming itself into a cost-effective and viable alternate to mainstream hydrocarbon economy.
Digital transformation is a huge boon for energy companies – the right technologies can increase efficiency, reduce costs, and ultimately deliver more profits. But companies won’t see those benefits if they mishandle their deployments or don’t implement cultural changes in tandem. From my previous experience building digital transformation programs with energy companies, I’ve identified the most crucial practices companies need to best succeed. With billions of dollars in investments at stake, these three insights will help energy companies find success with digital transformation in the renewables sector.
1) Empower Teams
The key to successful delivery of high-quality digital products is empowerment of engineering teams. A culture which promotes high standards of product development with minimal management interventions. Team members must be dedicated to their role within the team, and free to find and report errors without repercussions. DevOps & QA engineers should be able to proactively monitor issues from initial automated tests in “build-and-deploy” stage, preventing bugs from being released into the final product, platform engineers must point out flaws during end of sprint product demos. Creating a blame-free environment has a positive impact on the mindset of everyone on the entire digital transformation team: sponsors, product owners, scrum teams IT and ecosystem partners.
2) Innovate through Collaboration
A strong ecosystem with partnerships with different players in solar, wind, IoT, and smart-meters technology is vital for the success of the program. For example, one collaboration could involve Solar Technology experts and IT partners. Solar experts could provide insights to effectively transferring solar energy to the Grid. Meanwhile, IT partners would register consumer smart meters through their secure digital systems, using a decentralized blockchain network. With these two systems in place, solar consumers would have a digital marketplace where they could sell surplus energy to each other, with their identities protected from breaches by blockchain encryption. When working together, their combined expertise can develop unique solutions and new business opportunities that didn’t exist before.
3) Find Big Success in Small Wins
While it’s tempting to fixate on a program’s end goals, companies should evaluate their work toward success one step at a time. Executive program boards and sponsors are often content with digital transformation programs that deliver small but steady increases in business benefits.
Carefully adopting a flexible procedure for goal-driven team projects can result in digital programs being executed continually, while building on and adopting improvements over time. For example, mobile apps should be consistently fine-tuned to provide a rich and interactive user-experience for the solar producers and consumers to trade and share surplus energy they pump back into the grid. As the renewable sector sees a constant churn of new business models, technology architecture styles, and ecosystems, quick changes in digital platforms can help both consumers and utility companies keep up and not miss an opportunity.
As the world becomes increasingly connected, customers are becoming increasingly empowered – and any industry that does not adapt to meet their needs can find themselves threatened. The energy sector is currently struggling here, having recently received mediocre scores in customer satisfaction. From the practices of risk-free empowerment, innovation and originality, and incremental value creation outlined above, digital value will benefit energy companies as well as their customers. By instilling these three patterns into an organization’s culture and practices, the renewable sector will experience the benefits to their digital investments.