Author:
Pawan Khilari
Principal Product Manager,
Global E&U Practice Head-ANZ,
Europe Tech Mahindra

The utility sector is on the verge of a revolution driven by technological advances, increased environmental awareness, changing supply and demand, growing regulations, competitive pressures, and evolving customer expectations. With access to zero-emission energy, multi-source renewables, power cogeneration, electric vehicles (EV), and a low carbon economy, the rapidly-changing market is not only giving rise to new opportunities but is also bringing operational and technological challenges to a business, such as data management, customer engagement, asset maintenance, climate change, and environmental responsibility.
Businesses need to harness digital technologies, adopt new business models, and modernize the IT landscape to overcome these challenges. They need to leverage intelligent enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, predictive technologies, and smart solutions to achieve significant insights into distributed utility assets, resources, and operations.
Let’s look at the challenges of the utility sector and how a future-proof digital approach and agile best practices can fulfill the core digital requirements of the rapidly evolving business landscape.

Significant Challenges of the Utility Sector

  • Distributed Asset Management and Maintenance: Asset management, maintenance, uptime, and downtime check are crucial to making informed investment decisions and delivering seamless support services. This asset information is also critical while collaborating with operators, manufacturers, public utilities, and service suppliers to plan and manage the project requirements. Without a standard enterprise asset management (EAM) solution, it is challenging for businesses to manage multiple distributed utility assets. Furthermore, adopting an asset and performance management strategy can help reduce asset management and maintenance issues.    

  • Data Management: Utility businesses generate an enormous amount of data from various devices and systems such as smart grids, smart meters and sensors, and predictive asset maintenance and optimization data. The rising data volumes and their management is a major challenge for the utility sector. As businesses create and consume data at unprecedented rates, they need a centralized system to collect and store data and get the maximum out of their asset landscape.

  • Changing Customer Expectations: New disruptive technologies, such as IoT and smart devices, are changing consumer utility preferences and expectations. They need digital relationships with their utility providers to ease various processes. To meet the needs of the modern consumer, utility providers must adopt intuitive customer engagement technology that can help optimize customer relationships, by providing flexible billing and invoicing capabilities.

  • Handling change management: With the advancements in technology, the implementation process of advanced solutions has become extremely challenging. To tackle change management, utility providers need to have a digital strategy and an intelligent ERP system in place that can support projects at individual levels via involvement, communication, support, training, and more.

  • Transforming core utilities: Although utilities are redefining their business models leveraging intelligent technologies, they lack a clear road to the future. They need a smart alignment of their utility operations, demand and supply management processes, smart and efficient distribution of assets and data, and a digital roadmap to help them survive in the volatile market.


UtilityRise: Powering the Digital Core of Next-Generation Utilities

Tech Mahindra’s UtilityRise is an intelligent digital platform that helps utility providers overcome these challenges by offering robust and secure digital infrastructure, industry-leading solutions, and best practices captured through decades of experience. It can streamline, digitize, and automate business processes, including utility billing, asset operations, customer relationship, customer experience leveraging advanced and latest technologies such as artificial intelligence, IoT, machine learning, and cloud computing.
Moreover, the platform is powered by the intelligent ERP system (SAP S/4HANA), automation models, intuitive customer engagement technology, and enterprise asset management solutions capable of tracking real-time energy consumption, enhancing asset operations, and providing security from external threats. UtilityRise not just boosts the quality of services and overall productivity but also improves customer satisfaction that has a lasting impact on the bottom line. Some benefits include:

  • Better governance and well-defined processes
  • Ability to process high data volumes
  • Advanced analytics for decisive business insights
  • Higher consistency and faster TATs

Utility companies can leverage the core functionalities of the digital platform to increase transparency, streamline operations, automate business processes, and more:

  • Asset Management: The digital platform enables utility providers to gather data generated by assets and devices and predict when these assets require maintenance or replacement. This helps utility providers to recommend maintenance schedules, optimize asset performance, improve asset health, and reduce downtime.

  • Customer Service and Billing: Businesses can leverage the platform to gain a 360-degree view of the customers by automating end-to-end billing and smart meter and smart customer app integration. This allows utility providers to reduce the overall handling time and deliver seamless customer services.

  • Energy Management: Energy management includes monitoring of energy production and consumption units. UtilityRise enables utility providers to track real-time energy consumption and drive efficiency measures for better energy distribution and storage.

  • Operational Risk Management: Operational risks such as limited visibility of data and assets, disparate systems, and data loss can lead to exposed significant risks such as unplanned downtime, power outages, and grid failures. With an intelligent digital platform, businesses can get a clear view of operational risks, minimizing long wait times for front-line teams.

  • Customer Experience: With a smart customer engagement platform and omnichannel interactions, utility businesses can process data in real-time to provide customers with the information they need at the earliest. This not only enhances customer experience but also builds trust and loyalty.


The Way Forward: Choosing the Right Path

To accelerate the transition process for becoming a future-ready intelligent enterprise, utility providers need a digital roadmap that addresses which technologies and services will be beneficial in the longer run. Tech Mahindra also offers business consultancy, infrastructure, and enterprise security to help mitigate the utility industry challenges with its advanced technological solutions. 

About the Author:

Pawan Khilari
Principal Product Manager, Global E&U Practice Head -ANZ ,Europe Tech Mahindra

Pawan is Leading strategic products and offerings for Tech Mahindra  in Energy & Utilities and enterprise space involving  Customer Experience, Intelligent Enterprise, Asset Intelligence, Smart Metering and Distributed Energy resources  solving real life  problems with empathy driven and product led design approach.
His expertise in Utilities Domain includes  Digital transformation, Smart metering(AMI), AI/ML, Blockchain, IOT, DER, Asset Management, Customer Experience, know how of the regulatory regime as well as operating processes performed by various market participants in the EMEA & ANZ regions.
Pawan has been a Certified Product Manager and  Design Thinking Innovation Champion building more than 10+ innovative product and solutions in E&U and Enterprise space. One of his Innovation incubations has won an SAP HANA Innovation Award in 2015.