JOHANNESBURG – AFRICA’S utilities, some facing violent protests over poor service delivery, have been encouraged to embrace modern technologies to enhance their operations.
The recommendation by technology expert and industry adviser, Hannes Venter, comes in the wake of the so-called fourth industrial revolution that sees today’s hyper-connected consumer expecting a reduced environmental footprint while still enjoying seamless services, ease of use and improving their quality of life through fully digitised processes.
The Internet of Things, referring to the interconnection via the internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, is among technologies leading the fourth industrial revolution.
According to International Data Corporation (IDC) 30 billion “things” will be connected by 2020.
Gartner forecasts that 8,4 billion connected things have been in use
worldwide in 2017, up 31 percent from 2016.
Venter thus said power utilities in particularly needed to prioritise a
journey of digital transformation that reimagined their business models and reengineered business processes.
“By embracing exponential technologies such as blockchain, machine
learning, predictive analytics, Big Data, and IoT, and integrating it all
into a cloud platform under the SAP Leonardo digital innovation system, energy utilities can fast-track their digital transformation to rapidly adopt new business models and capabilities,” Venter said.
Venter, who is the Industry Advisor: Utilities at SAP Africa, the software corporation, said with technology giants increasingly encroaching on the territory traditionally held by utility companies, and rapidly increasing customer expectations, the need to transform business models and processes had become urgent.
“It is critical that energy utilities prioritise their digital transformation, or they risk being left behind by an increasingly
empowered and self-sufficient consumer market,” Venter said.
The expert pointed out not much had changed for utility companies’
business models over the past century.
He said however, there are major disruptors currently challenging utility companies, namely decentralization, deregulation and decarbonisation.
Venter said these were enabling the rise of the off-grid consumer,
typified by businesses and individuals who generate their own energy via renewable sources.
“Aside from the obvious loss of revenue, these consumers pose a further risk through their potential to sell surplus energy to their neighbours, further diverting the energy utilities’ revenue stream.”
– CAJ News