Rethinking Your Digital Selection: How to Get the Most from New Tech
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Rethinking Your Digital Selection: How to Get the Most from New Tech

Bryan Friehauf, EVP and GM of Enterprise Software Solutions, Hitachi ABB Power Grids

Bryan Friehauf, EVP and GM of Enterprise Software Solutions, Hitachi ABB Power Grids

There is an urgent need for energy CIOs to rethink how they choose and implement digital solutions. What worked for a digital transformation journey a decade ago, even a few years ago, doesn’t work today. Back then, technology was at most a 20-piece puzzle. Now, CIOs need to master 500-piece puzzles, fitting together everything from drones and asset performance management, to communication networks and energy trading and risk management. That doesn’t even account for the vast amounts of unstructured data from all your assets, employees and other resources.

Today, it’s critical to choose the right digital solutions to effectively manage and gain insights from your assets’ data and continuously improve your infrastructure to take advantage of new technologies. Increased specialization of digital tools, new business models, and updated organization practices mean you can find the perfect solution for your needs; however, a mindset shift for buying and implementing new software is critical.

Facing an increasingly complicated decision-making process, here’s how you can ensure you’re finding and using the right software to complete and complement your 500-piece technology puzzle.

"While you and your team will implement the best technology, its value isn’t maximized until the organization completely adopts it"

Identify the value of your new tech investments

Digitalization for each organization is different. While it’s easy to go after the new, trendy technology your peers are implementing — data lakes, machine learning, IoT systems, the list goes on — they might not bring you the same value. Instead of buying the latest and greatest, ask yourself what value would you get out of these implementations? How would it give you the most efficient system? The most profitable one?

For instance, the pandemic accelerated the hybrid workforce model for utilities and created a need for new digital solutions so employees could work from home, support remote maintenance, and more. But before you invest in all the latest tools, you need to consider if the technology you’re investing in will keep your workers safe, free up time across the organization, and/or make them more productive. If the new “hybrid work” technologies you are looking at don’t solve a bigger issue at your utility, it’s probably not the one to invest in.

Identifying the value of tech investments does not necessarily mean keeping an eye on the shiniest and newest digital solutions. It requires you to take a deep look at how your business operates to establish what technology and how it can be incorporated to make jobs easier.

Align with leadership across the organization

You have thousands of technologies at your disposal, but the only way to ensure those technologies bring the maximum value to the organization — fit seamlessly into that 500-piece puzzle — is to align with the full leadership team, from CEO to CFO.

Without an effective rollout plan, you risk employees misusing the technology and the organization missing out on cost savings, employee safety, better customer service and more. To ensure this doesn’t happen, focus on the people when you’re bringing in new software or hardware, not just new technology.

Implementing new technology is no longer enough. With so much new technology available and continuously integrating into your system, it’s important to communicate with everyone on how they can take advantage of it.

While you and your team will implement the best technology, its value isn’t maximized until the organization completely adopts it.

Take advantage of modern software infrastructure

New ways of building software — from the cloud to containerization — mean you can now pick and choose features and build on top of current platforms. Some of them even upgrade legacy platforms and take advantage of decades old data without a full replatforming. This means you can choose the best piece of technology for every function — from asset performance management to energy risk trading management — and never have to rip and replace. System overhauls are a relic of the past. Take advantage of modern architecture and the cloud that can specialize processes and maximize their effect.

This provides an opportunity, and challenge, for energy CIOs to find the best fit software for their organizations. If you change your mindset from overhauling your infrastructure to implementing nimble software integrations and add-ons, you can maximize the potential of your organization. Choosing what features you want without overpaying for the rest allows you to cost-effectively handpick the best solution for every function.

The 500-piece puzzle that we’re operating within right now might become 1,000 pieces in only a few years, but don’t let the rapid pace of change overwhelm you. Energy CIOs can make their organizations thrive with the right digital solutions. With the right approach – technology’s value-add, working with leaders across the organization, and taking advantage of modern software infrastructure – you can make your utility safer, more effective and efficient.

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