How Smart Devices Best Power up to the Grid
By Deepak Garg, SUS
Ten years ago, it would have seemed close to science fiction to even suggest that by the year 2017 a person could hail a car ride, book a flight, make a bank deposit, video chat a friend in London and peruse highlights of the daily news all from a mobile device-within a few minutes of waking up in the morning. Thanks to smartphones, ingenious new software ecosystems and continuously advancing technologies have given birth to interconnected devices otherwise known as the Internet of Things (IoT).
The IoT has the potential to bring forth the next industrial revolution and industries should embrace this next wave of device interconnectivity and big data exploitation. Gartner previously estimated that by the end of 2016 the IoT ecosystem would support at least 6 billion devices, from tablets and smartphones to computers and machinery and by 2020 will host a whopping 26 billion. It’s not so difficult to imagine, particularly when considering the number of U.S. smartphone owners, which comScore tallies at some 198 million, is expected to climb to 238 million by 2020. These numbers are even larger when looking at this from a global perspective.
Hand-held Mobile Moments
These reports not only give insight into the scope of the digital revolution but also correlate to Forrester Research, which claims there are nearly 30 billion mobile “moments” each day in the U.S., with the average consumer picking up his or her device of choice 150 to 200 times a day. Intoxicated by instant connectivity and the high potential to reach new personal productivity levels, it’s no wonder almost half of all smartphone users who responded to a 2015 Pew Research poll felt they couldn’t live without their devices. In fact, in nearly every industry-from manufacturing to agriculture-consumers have become accustomed to wireless mobility and mobile-centric applications, and forward-thinking companies keeping pace with changing technology are responding to customer demands by continuously innovating and investing in new approaches to delivering products and services that increase customer satisfaction 24/7.
Late to the Game but Ready to Suit up
Investments in mobile technologies are undeniably on the rise, even in the utilities sector, which has remained relatively unchanged for the past 100 years. After decades-long struggles with customer engagement and satisfaction, private and public utilities including water, power and natural gas are incrementally recognizing the tremendous benefits of using new technology platforms to not only become more efficient but also to become more customer centric. By leveraging the use of mobile devices and using purpose-built applications, utilities are powering up to the IoT and enabling customers to use their smartphones to save time and money with features that include anytime, anywhere remote-control access to smart appliances and thermostats, alerts regarding leaks and power outages, two-way real-time communication with customer service, simple one-click bill pay and customized information regarding energy usage and reduction strategies. On the operations side, utilities can reduce paperwork and efficiently allocate staff, use aggregated and individual customer data to spot outages (and communicate updates) as they happen, better coordinate maintenance and repair scheduling, and take advantage of vital data throughout the utility.
Wise Mobile Applications for Utilities of the Future
With a sharp focus on the future, the asset-intensive utilities industry is poised for rapid adoption of new technology platforms. With the implementation of smart grids and IT-OT convergence, many utilities are beginning to appreciate the competitive advantages of adopting disruptive technologies that enable an industry with a vast network of equipment, switches, sensors and communication devices to streamline business processes while simultaneously boosting asset performance, which in turn will increase operational efficiency and improve customer service. MarketsandMarkets estimates the market size of IoT in the utility industry will reach $11.73 billion by 2020. With technological platforms built from cloud and mobile technologies, as well as advanced data and analytics capabilities, utilities have a great potential to gain critical business insights-while providing today’s hyper-connected and mobile customers with mindful tools to create smarter homes and workplaces.
It’s undeniable that mobility is rapidly changing the way people interact as well as the way they behave. Leaders in the utility industry have come to understand that customers need and want more engagement with and information from their utilities. Smart new tools and new approaches will fulfill their needs and wants. Utilities can offer customers the tools and technologies needed to help them reduce waste and understand their energy usage and the impact it has.
Deepak Garg is chairman and CEO of Smart Utility Systems (SUS). He is responsible for the innovation, vision, strategy and leadership of SUS and its innovative products and services. Prior to SUS, Garg held several senior executive positions with Fortune 500 energy and utilities companies. Garg has a master’s degree in computer science and a bachelor’s degree in engineering, as well as executive management degrees from Stanford Graduate Business School and MIT. Visit smartusys.com for more information about his company, Smart Utility Systems.