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By Paul Nelsen, Vice President Asia Pacific Electricity, Itron
“Better, faster outcomes.” When Itron’s utility customers throughout the Asia- Pacific region ask me what the Cloud means for their business, that is my simple response. Properly applied, Cloud solutions drive innovation, accelerate time to value, and provide compelling cost advantages compared to traditional “on-prem” operations.
The technical advantages of cloud computing are well documented in the areas of security, reliability, cost, and capacity on demand. But this is not enough. It is the ability to integrate technology, development new models, and optimize operations into a virtuous cycle of continuous development, integration, deployment, and feedback to deliver high-value outcomes that gives cloud solutions an advantage over traditional IT approaches.
Examples of how cloud solutions can help improve outcomes are quite varied: for small utilities without large IT operations, the Cloud can provide access to solutions that might otherwise be out of reach due to capacity or personnel constraints. For utilities implementing new programs, cloud solutions can provide the ability to move rapidly by providing not only capacity on demand, but also access to the expert services of their provider in specialist arenas like demand response or loss prevention.
The key is the combination of cloud technologies with knowledge from a trusted service provider who knows the utility business
In all cases, though, it’s no longer about the cloud technology itself. The key is the combination of cloud technologies with knowledge from a trusted service provider who knows the utility business, and can combine cloud technologies with real operational and domain expertise to help you, and your team, deliver better business outcomes.
Making the Move
Many utilities struggle with making the first move to cloud because they take a technology-based approach. It is much easier if you begin with the business outcome in mind.
Imagine provisioning Smart Grid IT infrastructure in a few weeks, instead of a few months, and freeing your team to focus on driving the outcomes you need from your investment instead of chasing down every IT issue that crops up.
Imagine that your team is supported by a team of global experts in the operation of that infrastructure, and that enhanced services are available to improve operations in near real time, and provide a suite of additional solutions and services to help you achieve your stretch goals. These goals could include reducing technical and non-technical losses; identifying specific transformers that are in danger of overloading; mapping connectivity of smart meters to distribution assets; analyzing distribution system reliability by feeder to prioritize upgrades and maintenance.
Or imagine implementing a new customer engagement program or prepayment service on an accelerated schedule, with significantly lower internal resource requirements. This acceleration of innovation and simplification of go-to-market are key advantages of adopting a cloud strategy. Successful moves to the Cloud require a partner who understands your business rather than just the technology. Both of those attributes are critical to achieving better business outcomes on an accelerated basis.