ITOM - The Silent, Reliable Partner Powering the Energy Sector

By Vijaya Shanker, SVP & CTO - Technology and Product Management, Symphony SUMMIT

Over the past decade, technology conver­gence has become an inevitable part of operations in any industry and the pow­er sector is no exception. Globally, the energy sector is undergoing sweeping changes. Not only are renewables becom­ing a more significant part of the energy mix – the quest for sustainability has expanded the scope of technol­ogy in the industry. The emergence of smart grids and implementation of machine learning to accelerate the pace of the renewable revolution are examples of this. To combat energy poverty and meet the huge power demands of their fledgling economies, developing and underdeveloped nations are skipping entire phases in energy adoption - attempting, instead, to directly im­bibe the economies of cost and scale of brought on by technology disruption.

IT as the Redefining Force

Both the IT and energy companies are on course to de­velop newer business models to adapt to the evolving matrix in the energy sector. In 2016, the IT analysis firm Gartner itemized several startling predictions for the Upstream Oil and Gas Sector that it expects to bear fruit by 2020:

• 40 percent of field assets will be monitored and man­aged by interactions with virtual 3D models.

• More than 50 percent of wellbore drilling activities on electric rigs will be controlled primarily by algorithms and secondarily by human expertise.

• 50 percent of upstream oil and gas CIOs will be ac­countable for integrating information management across IT, operational technology and upstream-mode­ling domains.

IT Operations Management (ITOM) is the Key to Adaptability :

From generation of bills to complex processes like man­aging energy production and distribution and com­pliance to regulations, the marked increase in the use of IT to govern every aspect of functioning of a util­ity company – whether public or private - automati­cally entails the imperative need to employ cloud based IT Services Management to achieve complete control of IT Operations.

Given the challenges of aging assets and workforce, prevention of power theft, plugging of power leakage and effective distribution strategies, ITOM is a critical tool that can help overcome several of these deficiencies.

Like any enterprise, utilities and energy companies will benefit from new age, effective ITOM solutions in the following ways:

• Improve Control of Assets, Services and Workflow- Given the high cost of assets, the lengthy operational life cycle and demands for reliability in power production, energy companies are increasingly implementing IT func­tions to meet these needs. ITOM companies offer asset management solutions that manage IT and non-IT assets through the entire asset life cycle - right from planning, requisitioning, allocation, retirement to disposal. ITOM also helps streamline IT processes to meet the end goals of maximizing energy production, minimizing downtime and reducing operation and maintenance costs.

• Accelerate Decision Making and Change Management- As the reliance on data to manage utility operations in­creases, there is a concurrent need to establish advanced elements in the IT infrastructure, ranging from a well-designed service desk to change management modules for keeping track of regulatory compliance, to enable smooth functioning by quickly catering to a wide range of service requests. The presence of data on cloud assures unhin­dered functioning, even as business models change to suit the goals of the utility companies.

• Ensure Fast and Efficient Response to Incidents - One of the most critical aspects in the management of a utility is to avert disasters that may have damaging consequences to life, environment and property. A well-endowed ITOM solution will provide an integrated platform to resolve cri­sis, in almost real-time. With operational intelligence and automation built in to the ITOM solution, any incident is spotted automatically and rapidly escalated to the desig­nated experts.

• Automate Routine Tasks and Eliminate Human Error - In a demanding set up as a utility, errors not only mean outages and inconvenience to consumers, but also sharp revenue losses. Service automation embedded in the ITOM solution boosts efficiency and enables a seamless, smooth, fast flowing workflow through automatic re­source fulfillment, undertaking preventive maintenance and auto-remediation of requisite permissions, thereby eliminating errors, delays or failures that may set in with human intervention.

• Skill management and infrastructure upgrades - The entry of IT in the energy sector prompts a relook at the skill set of the employees, who need augmented skills to grapple with the renewed IT landscape. Some ITOM solutions provide avenues for skill enhancement and up­grade. Additionally, when a utility is comfortable with the early stages of transition into IT-driven functioning, the a well-oiled ITOM system enforces confidence in ex­ploring opportunities for the next stage of advancement, like the implementation of smart grids, for instance.

Conclusion

According to a recent report by McKinsey, the ‘digital utility’ of the future is rife with opportunities that trav­erse the entire expanse of the value chain – adjustment of demand and supply, asset management, maintenance and predictive outage driven by Big Data, decision mak­ing enabled by automation, a workforce well equipped with real time expertise, greater customer engagement led by analytics and finally, a higher level of ‘situational awareness’ to promote ‘energy balancing’. Based on the successes of digital transformation in other industries, utilities can achieve greater productivity, reliability, safe­ty, customer experience, compliance, and revenue man­agement with appropriate and ‘ambitious digital goals’. While digital transformation is the driving force, ITOM is the silent, reliable partner to execute the redefined frontiers of the energy sector.

 

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