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Issued Time 2019 - 07 - 20BY King Pigeon Read 604Times

As we move into 2017, it’s becoming clear that no industry will be left untouched by the Internet of Things revolution. Energy, oil and other utilities are no exception. For our recent Santa Clara event we covered how the IoT is changing the energy industry, and to build on this idea let’s now look at other benefits of a revolution in utilities rather than just operational improvements.

In writing recently for the World Economic Forum, Sonita Lontoh of Siemens analysed a Techcrunch article that compared IoT-inspired changes in the energy industry to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This theoretical pyramid of human motivation has remained popular for much of the 20th Century and continues to do so in the field of psychology to this day. Appropriated for IoT, the three levels of Internet of Things needs (Modernising Infrastructure, Enhancing Efficiency and Business Transformation) provide a neat breakdown of the IoT’s impact, both actual and potential, upon energy and utilities but they’re missing a trick: societal change. How will all these efficiency savings, infrastructure improvements and operations developments change us, if at all?

In modernising infrastructure and improving operations, the Internet of Things is the keystone for improvement, be it in water, solar, oil, natural gas or wind. Not every country in the world has a vast, unwieldy infrastructure of utilities, from the National Grid to a labyrinth of gas pipelines, but for those that do the Internet of Things will allow existing objects, nodes and elements to begin communicating with each other, rather than building a cumbersome network of hardware from the ground up. This would be far more difficult and impractical on a nationwide scale.

In enhancing efficiency, the data and processes parts of IoT come to the fore. More accurate location data point collection will allow quicker predictive maintenance, and the easier redistribution and rerouting of power over grids, along pipelines and underground. Outages will become shorter and far less common (if not completely unavoidable), which in turn will mean greater system stability and an increase in public trust.

In business transformation, the impact of better tech, better data and better processes will mean leaner teams, an atmosphere of innovation in business and a culture change the likes of which we may have seen before in individual companies, but never before throughout several whole industries.

So what of any societal change? Well – energy will become more affordable, more transparent and more understandable. We may even see a positive increase in civic sentiment through deeper, more detailed relationships with customers. For utilities it will be a more competitive market but the businesses that innovate through the connecting potential of the Internet of Things will be the businesses that prosper.

Author: Jon Kennard