Utilities are adopting cloud services faster and to a greater extent than is commonly believed, according to new market research from Oracle Utilities. Researchers found that 45% of utilities are using cloud services at present and 52% intend to.
Furthermore, 7 in 10 of utilities (69%) contributing input to Oracle’s ¨On Cloud Now: Cloud Technologies are Here for Utilities¨ report said they use or plan to use cloud technology in their customer information systems in the next three years.
Large utilities are adopting cloud technology sooner and at a faster pace than their small and mid-sized counterparts according to Oracle. Responses also show that utilities collectively are considering both software-as-a-service (SaaS) and private cloud/hosting.
Utility Company Use of Cloud Services
Greater use of distributed, low-emissions energy resources and adoption of smart grid technology is resulting in utilities having a greater need for advanced ICT, such as Big Data management and analytics, Oracle points out. Nearly half of respondents cited the need to keep pace with technological changes and enhancing organizational flexibility as key factors driving growth in utilities’ investments in cloud technology.
“The survey results signify a milestone for the industry – a fundamental change in how utilities are approaching their technology investments. Technology that used to be characterized by large homegrown systems managed by internal utility staff is transforming into more nimble partnerships with external providers,” elaborated Rodger Smith, Oracle Utilities’ SVP and GM.
Utilities are looking to cloud platforms to enhance customer service and other core aspects of their businesses, such as workforce and enterprise resource management. Utilities also want cloud platforms to help manage smart meter networks and automated infrastructure, Oracle notes.
Privacy, Control, Security Concerns
Assurance that cloud platforms provide privacy, control, security and system integration are key issues among utilities. On an ascending five-point scale respondents rated privacy 4.31 points, control 3.90 and security 3.89.
“These concerns point to the need to ask technology and service providers the right questions about cloud technologies, and truly understand their approaches and plans,” Smith commented.
“Begin building your cloud strategy now – determining how to prepare for and leverage the cloud; align business and IT to ensure successful deployment; and talk with your cloud provider – ask questions and challenge prospective providers on their approaches to the cloud,” Smith advised. ¨With these steps, the cloud provides utilities a path for transformation into a more nimble, flexible organization that can better adapt to today’s changing marketplace.”