Innovative ideas for every utility

That digital leap

Stephen Hill
Sr. Content Development Specialist
Digitalization, or digitization.

Strictly speaking, these are two different things. Notice I didn’t say “very different” things. And just as every point is arguable, we can agree to disagree.

I’m of that certain age where I bought vinyl albums (before vinyl become hipster), switched to cassette tapes, compact discs, Napster, streaming services, and full circle back to vinyl. I also had 8-track tapes, but that was such a clunky, bad technology no one really remembers it with any fondness.

Those steps above, that’s digitization, of taking something analog and converting it to a digital format (really, it didn’t become digital until CDs). I find it interesting that people nowadays have very expensive turntables playing analog albums connected via Bluetooth to wireless speakers. Talk about blending technologies.

Let me say, though, Steely Dan sounds great on any format, well almost. I’m looking at you 8-track.

And now we have digitalization. Does the extra syllable make it different? No, definition makes it different. Process really makes it different. But still, content and customer use are the most important things here.

Digitalization is the process of electrifying. Yes, Elvis could be electrifying, but that’s different, too. We’re taking electrification beyond the wires, to devices, and processes. It’s beyond just the formatting, it’s the voice itself.

In other words, Patsy Cline is mesmerizing, yes, and digitalization makes her immortal.

Not that there’s anyone else like Patsy, but we’re all becoming digitally immortal. Our voices, and actions are part of the electrification of our society. It’s that digitalization process happening all around us, and not just for beloved musicians. It’s for vehicles, electric substations, and engaged utility customers.

It’s a new business model.

At the top of this read, I discussed the different media formats we’ve all experienced, and how we’ve moved from analog to digital. Now we’re streaming music, and television and movies, basically we’ve moved beyond just digitization – we’ve digitalized the industry.

And Citizen Kane is still a masterpiece, even if you’re streaming it from a service instead of its original 35mm format.

Utilities are doing the same thing. They’re moving beyond just delivering electricity through wires to your home, office, and plant (or for current lingo: home office). Customers are getting their power, and other services like before just combined with a new format. This new platform allows for an array of services and interactions that weren’t even imaginable before we learned about digitalization.

And just because To Kill a Mockingbird is digitized, due to the publishing industry’s digitalization, it’s still a timeless classic whether printed on paper, or on a digital reader.

For instance, a utility customer can talk to a digital assistant, confirm auto payment, sign up for a high bill alert, and request that some or all of their power be sourced from renewable generation. All done with a single interaction in a matter of seconds, and back to the movie, or Deacon Blues, which was paused because, well digitization.

That seamless interaction, that ability to weave work with home with life, that’s why digitalization is important. Some customers may not want these features – perhaps they’re quite happy with whatever format their using. That’s fine, but we must remember, life and technology never stop changing. If you stick with the analog system for too long, you may find that access is harder.

Just ask the person trying to locate a VCR, or find a compact disc player that’s not in a car. The main thing is this: don’t get caught up on the format – it’s the content that matters.

So remember, Aretha Franklin is the Queen of Soul, digitalized, or digitized.

Oracle Utilities, including Opower, partners with the world's hardest working electric, water and natural gas companies to empower, enhance and enable your every single day. From cloud-native products and better grid management tools to support for every single step of your customer's journey, we have the answer. Learn more at oracle.com/utilities. Get specific product information as quick as clicking right here.

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