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U.S. Utility Companies are Exploring New Digital Apps

Digital transformation has begun to impact the industrial sector where maintaining security is a high priority. According to the findings from a recent survey of U.S. based utility companies, 40 percent of respondents believe that data security is the leading barrier to the adoption of new digital technologies.

However, it's clearly a barrier that can be overcome, with 64 percent of large utility organizations expressing a willingness to adopt innovative technologies -- such as Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, and wearable solutions -- within the next twelve months.

Utility Technology Market Development

"Technological transformation on energy as in the deployment of smart meters, sensors, and other IoT devices embedded into energy infrastructure, presents potential security vulnerabilities such as cyberattacks and threats from hackers, which have the potential to cause catastrophic results," said Raquel Artes, industry analyst at ABI Research.

ABI survey findings suggest that, despite current data security obstacles, utility firms are familiar with innovative technologies and plan to adopt them within the next year. This is especially true among smaller companies as follows:

  • IoT: 88 percent of respondents are familiar with IoT. 30 percent of firms already deployed IoT solutions, and an additional 24 percent plan to deploy them in the next 12 months.
  • Robotics: 88 percent of respondents are familiar with robotics. 20 percent already deployed robotic technologies, and 18 percent state a willingness to deploy the technologies in the next 12 months.
  • Wearables and Smart Glasses: 86 percent of respondents are familiar with wearables and smart glasses, but only 9 percent of respondents currently use them. 41 percent of small firms plan to deploy wearables and smart glasses in the next 12 months, as opposed to 11 percent of large firms.

"Interestingly, security concern barriers to adoption mirror the cloud computing services preference among small and large utility firms," concludes Artes.

A higher proportion of small firms (68 percent) firms consider housing their operational data on a hosted cloud platform than large firms (39 percent). Hybrid cloud is gaining momentum with 36 percent of respondents said they would deploy hybrid cloud by 2021.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Investment Priorities: Smart cities ranked first, followed by transmission infrastructure and automotive.
  • Distributed Generation of renewable energy: Utility firms cited they would capitalize on partnerships with automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) on vehicle-to-grid solutions (40 percent of respondents), deployment of demand response optimization technologies (32 percent) and expansion into smart home or buildings micro-grids (24 percent).
  • Demand-response optimization: It is expected to grow rapidly in the next 5 years driven by strong momentum (90 percent of respondents shared they would deploy it in the next 5 years).

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