Utilities firms switching on to IoT, AI and wearables


The majority (7-in-10) of utilities leaders believe technology is key to helping Britain overcome the socioeconomic issues it faces today, according to new research.


The study, from Fujitsu, indicates that at the heart of transformation in the sector and its future success is technology, with a resounding 94 percent of leaders agreeing technology is driving change in their organisations, and 84 percent positive about that change.

The positive view of technology is down to the improvements technology has brought the sector. Utilities leaders rank the top benefits as improving operational efficiency (48 percent), boosting employee productivity (41 percent) and bringing new products/services to market more quickly.

Here are some key findings from the report:

• 70 percent of utilities leaders believe technology will enable us to overcome the socioeonomic challenges we face today
• 84 percent of utilities leaders are positive about the change that technology is making in their organisations
• Utilities leaders point to the Internet of Things (IoT) (42 percent), wearables (40 percent) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) (40 percent) to be implemented in the next 12 months
• 75 percent of utilities leaders believe their employees have the right skills to take advantage of new technology

Despite the upgrades that technology has made in the sector – whether it be smart homes, meters or grids – just 53 percent of the public agree that utilities have been dramatically changed by technology. It is, however, one of the most forward-thinking sectors when it comes to technology adoption. When asked which technologies would be implemented in the next 12 months, utilities leaders pointed to the Internet of Things (IoT) (42 percent), wearables (40 percent) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) (40 percent).

“There is a clear recognition among sector leaders that – as technology has been embraced in infrastructure, management and customer engagement – it has had a huge impact on the sector,” said Graeme Wright, CTO for Manufacturing, Utilities, and Services at Fujitsu UK. “It must not stop here, however, so the sector should be pleased with the continued technology-driven approach it is taking with new services – such as IoT and AI. To ensure these make a real difference, utilities companies must invest in technology and people to build a strong platform for long-term success.”

Despite the industry being a leader in technology adoption, just 17 percent of the public listed utilities as the top sector they’d like to see technological advances in, behind education, transport, central government, manufacturing, banking, and retail. The public also listed utilities fourth (21 percent), when asked which sectors they think are changing the most in the UK today. At a broader level, the public does acknowledge that technology is driving societal change in the country (88 percent).

“While the public may not believe the sector is seeing much with technology, it is extremely encouraging to see the sector leaders be so forward-thinking in their approach to digital transformation,” continued Wright. “We must now pull together and ensure we are moving ahead responsibly. With 75 percent of utilities leaders believing their employees have the right skills to take advantage of new technology, there is a strong base to start from. It is crucial we work to ensure this number rises and that workers are trained and reskilled in new technologies – this is the only way organisations can reap the rewards of an increasingly digital world.”

Read the full report here


This quantitative research was carried out in August 2017 by independent research company Censuswide. 40 IT decision makers in central government and 2,000 consumers were surveyed.

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