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What does 2014 have in store for the utility industry?

By Max Burkhalter
December 23, 2013

With technology evolving at a breakneck pace and more people embracing green, sustainable energy and renewable resources, it is important for utility providers to keep up with the demands and expectations of consumers. In order to accomplish this, many have to invest in improved technologies, like smart meters and terminal server solutions designed for smart grid deployment.

According to IDC's Associate Vice President of Energy Insights, Roberta Bigliani, analytics, mobility, the cloud, social media and cybersecurity will all be top consideration for increased spending in 2014.

"Despite regional nuances, the globally utilities industry is in the midst of a major paradigm shift," said Roberta Bigliani, associate vice president of IDC Energy Insights. "Flexibility and innovation are the 'new normal' and digital technologies and distributed generation are the cornerstone of the transformation across the entire value chain, while CIOs will adopt alternative sourcing models to enable business agility and reduce IT investments."

IDC recently released several predictions for the utility industry for 2014, from increased investments into cybersecurity to a focus on microgrids. Leading these predictions, however, was a growing need for flexibility and innovation. Firms are accomplishing this by investing in smart grid technologies and improved data management tools to support these deployments. Smart grid solutions offer increased flexibility, as well as visibility, over power grid usage, distribution and control, helping cut costs and improve the flow of energy to consumers.

Customer service
Increased expectations for customer service will also drive data demands for utility providers, making smart grid technologies a necessity. IDC predicts that multi-channel customer support will be essential, and improved platforms and service architectures will be a top priority investment. By incorporating smart grid deployment with these efforts, firms will be able to improve the flow of information from the customer to customer service and back, strengthening the loop and optimizing the customer experience overall.

Ultimately, these new priorities and investments will drive IT spending for utilities up significant across the globe, to nearly $60 million in the next year. With so many IT supported technological demands coming in, firms will need to adapt and be prepared to service not just billing needs, but technical ones as well as consumers want to know more about where their power comes from and the green efforts providers are taking.

Perle offers a range of cost effective serial-to-Ethernet converters to help meet NERC-CIP compliance for the protection of critical cyberassets in substations. The IOLAN SDS HV/LDC Terminal Server is designed to meet harsh environments associated with Power Substations with attributes such as support for substation AC and DC voltage ranges, extended operating temperatures and meeting emission, immunity and safety approvals associated with substation IT equipment.


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