Smart grids set to revolutionise energy companies - Part 3

Smart grids and telecommunications partnerships are rapidly transforming utility providers’ businesses. That spells new threats and challenges for CIOs — and new opportunities for those who step up to greet them

Results for next generation technology maturity from Logica's 2010 Australian Smart Grid Study. Maturity rating is out of a possible 5.

Results for next generation technology maturity from Logica's 2010 Australian Smart Grid Study. Maturity rating is out of a possible 5.

The CIO’s role in business transformation

Adding new layers for both improved communications and business-focused data analysis may add pressure to already pressured CIOs, but information executives aren’t the only ones staring down organisational change as a result of the industry’s new information-driven dynamics.

Many business and CIO respondents to Logica’s 2010 Smart Grid survey indicated they were using the smart grid inflection point as an opportunity to reconsider traditional reporting and advisory structures — particularly as they figure out how integrate often-separate smart grid deployment teams with the rest of the business.

The business sees this as an opportunity to refresh the workforce

“It’s generally accepted that we need to change our structure,” one respondent conceded. “You can’t have a separate IT group and engineering group, and bring them together and have a Smart Grid group. We need to get our electrical people IT savvy, especially in networking for example. Our trials all have multi-skilled teams.”

Another respondent lauded the newfound relevance of the ICT team within the business culture. “We have a good culture now,” the respondent offered. “In the past, [databases] were tarnished as mundane… Now we are in the exciting part of the business. We are the good news story and people flock to that so we are getting loads of people wanting to work in our division. It’s contagious. It’s an exciting time and we’re using it to transform our business and attract talent.”

This is a good time for CIOs, if they engage the business correctly, to become major players in the new structures. With the most mature information management skills in the business, CIOs will be in high demand as the smart grid revolution pushes business leaders to consolidate their internal capabilities and push for analytical and other capabilities that help make the most of the new investment.

Read Part 1 of Smart grids set to revolutionise energy companies.

“The business sees this as an opportunity to refresh the workforce,” says David Beaton, consulting principal for energy and utilities with Logica. “The smart ones are using the whole transformation of the industry to attract talent, pursuing new talent, pairing it with old talent, and are being seen within the sector as the innovators of the industry.

CIOs are going to become increasingly critical, and are going to have to become real strategic advisors to the business. The winner’s circle of CIOs will be at the executive table, seen as service providers and strategic advisors to the business.”

The customer imperative of smart grids

With carbon pricing, increasing energy prices and internal efficiencies around consumption all driving changes of behaviour at enterprises of all sizes, CIOs outside the energy sector may also want to tap into the industry’s changing dynamics.

New energy efficiencies won’t, after all, be a one-way street; newly optimised energy providers are likely to be receptive to working with customers on new energy efficiency initiatives that make best use of new smart grid and reporting systems.

Data centre managers that can more proactively monitor their energy footprint, and work with providers to smooth out peaks and troughs in demand, may find themselves cutting costs and improving predictability for energy suppliers that have been stung in the past by often-wild variations in wholesale energy pricing.

On cold days, for example, a reduction in data centre energy cooling consumption may help offset increases from other sectors as large numbers of consumers turn on their heaters.

Many enterprises, however, have very little idea of their actual energy usage until the bill arrives at the end of the month. CIOs within data centre-using organisations will find benefit in working with providers to learn more about their usage.

“I work with data centres on a daily basis and not many of them are measured,” says Christian Bertolini, national technical manager for smart and connected infrastructure with consultancy, Dimension Data. “If I go ask an IT manager ‘what’s your power consumption now?’ they probably wouldn’t be able to tell me,” he says. “But IT will play a larger and larger role in managing the energy consumption, and the data that comes from energy consumption across the board.

“There is an opportunity there, although from an industry point of view there is not enough will to take it.”

‘Will’ is the active word here: When it comes down to it, the solution to the challenges now facing utility companies is largely about willpower. There’s the need for business will to invest in massive new infrastructure; technical will to support it; and internal will to make the structural changes and improvements.

For their part, CIOs need to act on the will to take a leadership position in the integration of proactive energy management into everyday business processes.

Read Part 1 of Smart grids set to revolutionise energy companies. Read Part 2 - New partnerships, new skills.

Recommended reading

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags LogicaUtilitiessmart meteringsmart gridsenergydimension data

More about Dimension DataLogicaLPSmartUNSW

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by David Braue

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place