Insights

Deloitte’s 2021 Power and Utilities Industry Outlook reveals opportunities for mobile

Last month Deloitte released their 2021 Power and Utilities Industry Outlook featuring insights taken from over 300 executives and senior leaders within the utilities industry. 

As mobile leaders in this field, working with well-known UK brands like United Utilities, we took some time to digest the report so we could offer you a tech-focused analysis.

There were five key trends in particular that caught our eye, each presenting some serious opportunities for mobile innovation.

Trend #1: Consolidation of the regulatory landscape

While Deloitte’s report focused heavily on the changes to the American regulatory landscape, there’s a point to raise here about the British equivalent.

Since the start of the year, and the UK’s official departure from the EU, there have been a lot of changes to regulations for British power companies. Many of these changes are around the labelling of various power products and the need for further sign off from the British Government on British power products and infrastructure. 

Meeting the specific requirements of these regulations may be difficult for many companies, with the changes coming into effect rapidly for some. However, we believe this might present a unique opportunity for many utility companies.

As you’re forced to redesign certain parts of your workflow due to regulation, there’s an opportunity to implement digital change that would increase efficiency and lower overheads. Now is a great time to usher in a change across your utilities business, and to start thinking about what’s possible when it comes to mobile technology and connected devices within your organisation. 

Trend #2: The increased need for DER digital infrastructure

Distributed energy resources (also known as DER) encapsulates many smaller power-generation and storage technologies, including many solar and wind solutions. In 2020, we saw a dip in DER growth – but Deloitte’s report suggests that the market will increase this year, and there will be a greater need for digital infrastructure to underpin it:

“DER integration into the grid would require a new digital infrastructure to aggregate and manage these resources in a way that enhances the grid. Following a pandemic-related dip in DER capacity additions this year, growth is poised to recover in 2021, with a mix that is shifting from mostly commercial to predominantly residential, solar, and EV load management. The big question is to what extent utilities, third parties, and customers can cost-effectively manage this DER digital infrastructure.”

Deloitte's 2021 Power and Utilities Industry Outlook

We believe that mobile technology and system integration, through the likes of connected devices, could hold the key to greater DER uptake, allowing large power companies to monitor thousands of DER systems quicker, and distribute power across the national grid. 

Data analysis and visualisation is something Apadmi has plenty of previous experience in with our work for SailGP. The high-speed catamaran racing competition needed a second-screen experience to allow fans on the shore-line to follow the thousands of moment-to-moment activities during a SailGP race. 

Apadmi created a data visualisation system that tracked over 1,200 data points on each boat, and allowed fans to make split-second decisions on who they thought would win or lose. This type of instant data capture and analysis could be applied to DER technology.

Trend #3: Growing battery businesses

Since 2019, the market share of electric and hybrid cars in the UK has lept from less than 5% to almost 15%, as we saw a rapid uptake in electric vehicles during the lockdown. It’s clear there’s growing consumer demand for electric vehicles (EV),and Deloitte believe this will be supercharged by the development of long-range battery solutions:

“The electrification of transportation and its resulting charging infrastructure are also poised to experience unprecedented growth in 2021, opening a significant opportunity for utilities to grow earnings. In 2021, we may see the introduction of new longer-range batteries in truck and SUV models from startups and established automakers that may further bump EV sales and accelerate their timeline to parity with gasoline-powered vehicles. Regulators are increasingly coming around to the idea of a leading utility role in EV charging infrastructure development, portending a wave of charging program approvals in 2021 that could help grow utility revenue.”

Deloitte's 2021 Power and Utilities Industry Outlook

A new market of battery-based businesses presents the opportunity for more mobile solutions, from simple consumer-facing apps, directing users to their nearest charging stations to more complex battery charging and diagnostic mobile software for mechanics and automotive professionals. 

There may even be applications for AR and VR in the marketing and sale of this technology, as we found with our work with Lexus. Working with Lexus we designed an AR application that allowed salespeople to show customers their cars anywhere in the world, in whatever colour they wished, with whatever upgrades they wanted. 

The project was rolled out across 35 countries, translated into 27 different languages, and even won us further business with the car manufacturer.

As the global economy is slowly moving away from fossil fuels and towards electricity generated by a combination of different natural resources, we’re seeing more traditional oil companies move into the power market. Deloitte has identified a growing trend of large companies entering and disrupting the power sector:

“The growth in renewables and clean technologies has engendered interest in the sector from new entrants, including some of the larger oil companies. Over the past several years, oil company investments in storage technologies, transport electrification, and renewable energy have increased noticeably. This trend is expected to continue in the longer term as oil companies move beyond the immediate impact of the oil price drop and COVID-19–related demand decline.”

Deloitte's 2021 Power and Utilities Industry Outlook

The disruption created by these large oil companies entering the market will create a need for all renewable energy companies to differentiate themselves from the wider market, through powerful customer experiences and marketing. 

Apadmi has helped many companies improve their customer journey including United Utilities, through their mobile app. We worked with them to create their first-ever mobile solution, which allowed their customers to pay bills, upload meter readings and view their payment history. 

The app created a fantastic customer experience that won the Utility Week Awards’ Customer Engagement award. It was the first native app designed for both United Utilities and the water industry as a whole. So far, the app has seen over 100,000 downloads and supported over 172,000 transactions. 

Trend #5: Disaster Readiness

It’s easy to see why the COVID-pandemic has brought the topics of disaster readiness and business continuity into many C Suite meetings. Several industries found themselves in need of a complete overhaul in 2020, and we’re still seeing the knock-on effects of that now. 

Deloitte predicts a greater appetite for disaster readiness initiatives, to protect companies from further losses or disruptions:

“Several disasters buffeted the power and utilities industry in 2020, bringing disaster readiness to the forefront going into 2021. Utilities may increasingly deploy digital tools to address the “twindemic” of COVID-19 and extreme weather events such as wildfires. The first set of solutions revolves around a remote workforce, while the second set of digital solutions pertains to a remote workplace.”

Deloitte's 2021 Power and Utilities Industry Outlook

We envision the use of everything from connected devices, to drones and rapid data visualisation tools being critical for many disaster readiness plans in 2021 and beyond. Technology is one of the biggest and most powerful tools the energy industry has to protect against the threats presented by disaster, and all of that technology must be maintained and integrated into your businesses’ wider systems. We offer a range of mobile services that could support your disaster readiness plan and ensure that your business is protected in the future.

Our key takeaways from the report

Deloitte’s 2021 Power and Utilities Industry Outlook created a lot of discussion at Apadmi, and its five key trends are certainly a good indicator of the future of the utilities industry in 2021.

Overall, our key takeaways:

 

If you’re interested in how Apadmi could help the utilities industry in 2021 and beyond, please contact us below.

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