Cloud Utility Management for Electric Utilities


Cloud utility management entails renting storage and power resources from providers. These services allow you to scale your operations without incurring costs for hardware or software. It’s similar to using electricity: you only pay for what you use.

However, implementing digital solutions can feel overwhelming for utilities. Many worry that a sizable investment today will be obsolete in a year’s time.
1. Scalability

The scalability of cloud utility management offers utilities increased flexibility, resilience and agility. This is particularly important for utilities whose existing IT systems lack the scalability needed to support new digital and energy-efficiency initiatives post-COVID-19.

Utilities often experience performance problems when their software applications exceed the capacity of on-premises servers. Redesigning software code to accommodate this growth takes time and may require a significant investment in engineering expertise.

With a cloud-based utility billing solution, IT administrators can easily expand the number of computer processing and data storage resources as needs arise. This helps utilities avoid paying for infrastructure they don’t use all the time and improve overall IT cost efficiency. This is known as elastic computing. The service provides users with access to a pool of shared servers, so each workload can be distributed among them at all times.
2. Flexibility

A cloud utility solution can scale and expand to meet your business needs. You can grow or shrink the amount of service within seconds and pay for only what you need. This helps you reduce your operational costs as well as the risk of software license overspend.

With a unified utility management platform, you can easily perform virtual activities via a mobile interface. These include creating a digital inventory of transformers and meters with images, status and details; conducting inspections; and uploading results to the system.

To get the most out of your cloud utility management services, you should train one or more power users to serve as business system administrators (BSAs). This will empower them to take full ownership of the utility solution and manage work, assets, reports and users.
3. Security

A cloud solution should have a built-in security layer that is configured and deployed through an automated pipeline using Infrastructure-as-Code to enable auto-healing, audits and validations. It should also have a process in place for regular and ongoing risk assessment, including penetration tests.

Power utilities are looking to use their investment in cloud systems to meet customer expectations for quicker responses and personalized service. But they’re not going to get there without a strategic approach to cybersecurity.

When it comes to cloud utility management, choose a service provider with a track record of demonstrating industry best practices and compliance with regulatory requirements for energy companies. This includes being SOC 2 certified and undergoing annual penetration testing to ensure continuous compliance. This way, you can rest assured that your business-critical data is secure.
4. Mobility

Several discrete services common to electric utilities like backflow device inspection, field data management and service routing are SaaS. Electric utilities can also leverage energy-as-a-service solutions that are specialized for their needs.

This includes Internet-connected sensors that communicate with an electric utility’s IT system to detect problems in the field. Field technicians can then respond to these sensor alerts on a mobile app. For example, a backflow device inspection app could display photos and text notes of an asset like a pole or transformer, then compare before and after photos during an assessment to identify damage.

These apps are often managed by a solutions provider, offloading deployment, maintenance and troubleshooting from the utilities. This allows them to increase staff deployed to other critical areas of their operations.
5. Reporting

A cloud utility management system keeps a track of all your field data. It also alerts your on-call team when performance falls short of criteria you define – be it metric thresholds or budget & quota limits.

The solution combines a no-code application configuration toolset with SQL database, mobile data collection, process automations and simple integrations. It enables electric utilities to discover, model, automate, monitor and continually improve shadow, manual business processes. This ensures that data residing in disparate repositories are integrated and accessible.

This makes it easy to streamline regulatory reporting, manage work and meter data, and connect with field workers. Moreover, with a variety of prebuilt integrations, this solution enables you to deliver on mission-critical work streams with minimal effort. This saves your staff time for other important work and boosts efficiency.

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