Challenges in technology to meet needs of the utility industry
The biggest challenge is the rapidly evolving technology landscape. As soon as one technology is implemented, it seems as though another is coming along to replace it. Naturally it's not quite as bad as it sounds, but the point is that technology officers must always be on their toes and up to date with the newest trends and developments. It can be difficult to keep pace with the abundance of new software and hardware systems coming on the market. So for me, it would be nice to have a one stop-shop resource that will keep me in the loop for all the new developments. Trade magazines, online resources, and hosted events are great, but nothing seems to be all-encompassing. Some focus on hardware or networking or software or services. But I’ve yet to see a single resource deliver timely information across all platforms of technology.
Technology trends impacting the utility sector
With regard to specific trends in the Municipal Electric Utility market, I’ve seen a strong push for AMI, Automated Metering Infrastructure along with more manageable SCADA solutions. AMI focuses on collecting meter data, managing that data and perhaps (if you choose) controlling meters remotely for shut-off or turn on. There are some other slick features as well, but these seem to be the most prevalent uses for an AMI system. SCADA solutions have historically been focused as well, typically on monitoring and manipulating the distribution grid. Merging these two trends would certainly pose some security concerns, but keeping distinct networks that share data may be a way to converge each of these two evolving trends into one management system. Albeit, this would be a daunting task for any one firm, the market is growing and anyone who could pull off this herculean feat would certainly find themselves as a sole proprietor of a new niche market.