By Jens Albom, Nordic Industry Lead, Utility


The digitalization of the energy sector has been going on for years. Slowly but surely, more and more organizations are adopting new digital tools to meet the challenges of the future. The common denominator for these organizations is that they think five, ten and fifteen years ahead. So who is the best in the business?


Others have chosen a strategy based on "rushing slowly". They only adopt new technology after it has been thoroughly tested and regulated. They are afraid of the consequences of jumping on the wrong train. The problem with this approach is that technical debt grows exponentially with the development of technology. It is becoming more and more difficult to catch up.


Fortunately, it is not too late to join the journey that is shaping the future of technology for the energy industry. But it is becoming urgent.


The train leaves the station – destination cloud


Let's turn back the clock to 2009. Barack Obama is in the White House, the Boeing 787 conducts its first test flight, and energy data in this country is stored on local servers – with correspondingly slow and non-scalable business applications. For the energy industry, clouds are still only a sign of an imminent replenishment of the water reservoirs.


But Microsoft thinks differently. Already in 2007, they launched Dynamics CRM in the cloud, followed by Microsoft Office 2010 – a complete cloud-based application solution. In 2016, the platform we know today as Microsoft Dynamics 365 is ready, and it is also off-premise.


It would be an exaggeration to say that energy companies are queuing up to introduce any of these innovations. Nevertheless, more and more of them are realizing the benefits of moving at least some parts of their operations to the cloud. However, they are still in doubt.


Uncertainty surrounding the Data Retention Directive (2011–2015), fears about the Cloud Act (2018) and the introduction of GDPR (2018) are all events that are causing more people to wait to both partially and fully switch to the cloud. At the same time, the technology train has already started to pick up speed, and the technical debt is growing large.


Cloud-based operations offer greater opportunities


While there are many who are waiting to make the transition to the cloud while the tech giants test and the authorities regulate, there are others who see the opportunities. Visionary energy companies recognize that it is possible to use new technology to their advantage and adapt operations along the way. The first energy companies in Norway will move parts of their business to the cloud as early as 2010.


And now that they are safely on board the technology train, new rules will not be a problem either. Instead of locking up data, they see GDPR – along with robust software – as a pretext to move even more of the organization's activities to the cloud with far better conditions for transparency and data control.


To avoid falling behind, Microsoft has started building on-premise data centers for more secure operations in the cloud with increased redundancy. The conditions for moving the company's business applications to the cloud will be even better.


Nevertheless, the transition from on-premise to off-premise is slow for the energy industry as a whole – and companies owned by municipalities and the state in particular are lagging behind.


End-station unknown, but the train is still running


The year is 2024, and those who were early adopters back in 2010 are still in the driver's seat as the energy industry shapes the technology of the future. They don't just follow the trends, they define them and shape them.


We don't yet know where the journey will take us in areas such as artificial intelligence, network security, and infrastructure, but we know that those who dare to be early adopters will define the industry standard this time as well.


That said, all hope is not lost for those who still process data on-premise or recognize themselves in this article's other descriptions of those who are lagging behind. More and more people are finding their way to the cloud and the digital solutions of the future, and the transition has never been easier. After all, the track has been laid.


Now, however, the technology train is reaching a speed that will make it very difficult to hop on on the fly. And the risk is not in jumping on the wrong train, but in being left on the platform. That is why we ask: Do you dare, and can you afford, to let others set the framework for the digital workplace and energy market of the future?


This article is the first in a series on the energy technology of the future. In the next article, we explore the possibilities of artificial intelligence in the energy industry.


Article 2: Future energy technology: Artificial intelligence


Article 3: Future energy technology: Are you sure?

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John T. Hummelgaard