Six business trends within the utility industry 2021

The utility industry is facing a strong movement towards green energy. It's a journey towards a smarter and more efficient grid where digitalisation and cybersecurity are playing a key role when the energy demands are increasing in the world.

The utility industry continues to drive change towards smarter and more sustainable business

Why is digitalisation important to meet the challenges and opportunities arising on the journey towards smarter and more sustainable business? Martin Davidson COO at isMobile shares his trendspotting insights.

Transformed market ecosystems and a smarter grid prepare for the continuous increase in the global energy demand as well as dealing with the CO2 footprint. This increase also demands digital adaptation to keep up with the resulting changes.

isMobile has more than twenty years of experience in helping customers to digitise their service operations within the segment and the field service in the expansion of smart grids as an example.

Martin Davidson shares his insights of high-level business trends, drivers for digital transformation and the challenge of operating and maintaining assets within the utility industry, summarised in six trends.

Six business trends within the utility industry

1. A strong movement towards the transition to green energy

The sustainable future is the key driver for change. Many utilities plan to fully decarbonize over the next three decades. The power and utilities industries are expected to lead the movement towards sharply reduced emissions of greenhouse gas emissions throughout the world.

An important part of sustainability is to manage resource usage in terms of materials, fuel usage and personnel.

This is becoming increasingly important for service organisations to handle, for example through good planning and optimized driving routes.

2. Increasing energy demand

The global energy demand is expected to increase in the next decades due to increased population, development of new industries, increased global welfare and as a result of the transition to clean electricity instead of fossil fuel.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) states in the new report Global Electric Vehicle Outlook that the number of EVs registered across the globe expanded massively in 2020 and the forecast shows extensive growth, see

Another potential technique to further lower the CO2 emissions is to use hydrogen in the process of steel production. Such hydrogen can be manufactured with electrolysis. In effect, initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions will rely on a continued increase of available electrical energy throughout the globe.

It is also extremely important to reduce losses and waste in existing distribution networks, which is one of the key drivers for the vast number of initiatives globally to install smart meters to increase the ability to monitor flows and consumption in nearby real-time.

3. Structural changes – a new ecosystem arise

The utilities are undergoing structural changes. Monopoly, high entry barriers for new players and a lot of governmental support are shifted towards a new ecosystem driven by the transition to green energy.

Oil and gas will gradually lose their dominance within the utility industry driven by the pressure from politicians, activists, and a general opinion for a climate-smart future.

Major utility players as well as new emerging businesses with disruptive value propositions are starting to capitalise on renewables and fight for the end customer’s trust and values.

One interesting example of a new type of business that is emerging in this respect is sustainable energy solutions where companies offer overall responsibility to provide energy solutions to property owners that combine e.g. solar cells, geothermal heating and energy storage, all fully digitised and packaged to individual energy solutions for the tenants.

This example will most certainly also become a driver for new service models for such new energy solutions.

4. From centralised to distributed, small-sized energy sources connected in a smart grid

The power grid has been out there for more than a hundred years, and it is now facing a set of new challenges. The movement to renewable energy powered by e.g. wind and sun will lead to a transition from centralised to distributed, small-sized energy sources.

Solar panels, wind turbines and battery storage in individual homes together with smart and connected equipment like smart meters will increase the fluctuation on the grid in both directions and over time.

This will require a smart grid that automatically can adjust and adapt to this new pattern of power production and consumption. This is indeed a huge driver for the digitalisation of the entire energy industry.

5. Cybersecurity increasingly important

Alongside the challenge of digitising the grid, of transforming the power generation into renewables, to increase the capacity and at the same time provide a high degree of flexibility in the capacity, we also face the challenge of security.

We need a reliable grid, both from an operations point of view but also regarding cybersecurity. In the wake of increased digital collaboration between more actors who together develop and maintain the infrastructure, i.e. share data about the facility, the need to secure IT solutions from unconscious and conscious threats increases.

Here, the utility and IT industries must work together for good IT security practices and secure solutions. The usage of cloud-based solutions, managed services as well as SaaS, will have increased significantly over time in this area.

6. Focus on operating and maintenance efficiency

Competition increases due to e.g. de-regulation of the utility market, which leads to efficiency improvements incl. outsourcing. Keeping service appointments as promised is becoming a hygiene factor and mobile device usage maturity increases.

As the utilities invest to increase reliability and to improve the customer experience, they expect to lower the operating and maintenance costs. However, large portions of the grid are ageing and require more costly maintenance to remain reliable. Operations and maintenance of assets must therefore be made more efficient resulting in different strategies to increase efficiency.

For example:

  • Fully digitised workflows between all actors, from asset owners to service organisations, to technicians to end customers.

  • Process improvements

  • Improved strategy for asset management

  • Data-driven approaches where real outcome data from operations and maintenance and selected KPI’s are analysed for continuous identification of potential improvements including automation.

  • Outsourcing operations and maintenance to specialised service companies with modern outcome-based contracts.

In summary, digitisation within the utility industry has many drivers and many opportunities. It will be one of the crucial instruments to handle the climate challenges, to increase the capacity need of clean energy and to strengthen the competitiveness amongst the present and new actors involved. isMobile wants to continue to actively support the digitisation with our proven product especially for service operation and field service.

Further information, please contact

Martin Davidson, COO

+46 (0)70-240 52 05