Don’t let anyone tell you differently: utilities are already in the cloud business. The cloud isn’t the future. It’s today. It’s now. It’s happening in this very moment, in this very step.
And anyone who tells you different is sorely misinformed.
Our first utility cloud survey of electric, water, and gas utility executives back in 2016 found that 45% of them were already using cloud tech, with another 52% planning on it. And almost all of them (97%) said they had in business tech contact with the cloud, even if there were a couple of degrees of separation to still sort through.
Our second utility cloud survey, released in 2017, confirmed one thing we already knew: the cloud is going to be big for utilities, a “paradigm-shift,” a game changer as all the business execs like to say. The cloud is coming to every aspect of your world, according to this year’s report.
The most recent utility cloud survey, released in October of 2019, gives us even further insight into utility cloud adoption. Utilities see cloud adoption as a way to enhance customer experience. The survey, conducted for Oracle Utilities by Zpryme, also cites cybersecurity as a top reason to move to a cloud service.
And, today, those degrees of separation we saw in the first study are getting thinner and withering. In some cases, they’ve disappeared completely. So, what are the top areas where cloud is capturing, controlling or conquering in the utility business? Where are those high-bar arenas that make the cloud a business case you can take to the bank?
1. Getting the most of meter data: This one was at the top of the cloud list two years ago and still is today. All that data needs a home, and most utilities can’t scale their own IT infrastructure fast enough to keep up. Today’s smart meter can shift a utility from shack to house to mansion (in terms of data storage sizing) in just a few weeks. It’s, by far, the largest area ripe for a complete cloud takeover—eventually.
2. Delightfully dumping legacy systems: There’s a two-fold problem here. First, there’s definite data overload, as with the meters above, but there’s a more overarching problem—namely that a lot of legacy systems (CIS, ERP, work and asset management, outage management) need updating or replacing. And what’s easier than replacing, overseeing and patching up that infrastructure as it, once again, goes through an aging process? Outsourcing and adapting. So, here comes software-as-a-service (SaaS) and hosted solutions to the rescue.
3. Fully exploring distributed energy: With this, you don’t just have a data size issue, you have a connection and direction issue. Utilities need smarter, more sophisticated tech to make that new world work, and cloud solutions and partnerships can pave the way to a DER-heavy future with a bit less heavy hardware financing.
4. Completely embracing the unknown: Owning is expensive. Upkeep is difficult and time-consuming. Now, in some areas, ownership is a must, but in the areas with data insights and data options, the cloud can keep utilities leaner, meaner and more flexible. As the world gets more real-time, being able to react in the same manner is paramount. It’s a must. After all, shifting SaaS is simpler than shifting structure.
So, where do we go from here with utilities and the cloud? What are the next steps for this industry? After MDM, CIS and DER will we be talking about the cloud takeover of microgrids, smart cities, and grid-embedded EV infrastructure?
Or, are we laying the groundwork for those very changes by simply using the cloud in the smartest ways we can right now with what we have—and crafting the future by unleashing the cloud today?
After all, if you ask us here at Oracle, the cloud reigns already.
We sat down and turned our favorite new tech dream, The Cloud, into your next comic book superhero obsession. (The Avengers ain’t got nothing on us.) Read the first issue here:
Thanks to Oracle Utilities own Julia Lundin for crafting the lead art for this blog from pipe cleaners and letting us immortalize that amazing skill here.