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UK Utilities Seize Digital Advantage for Greener Energy

Technology adoption makes British power sector a leader in smart grids, but infrastructure and customer engagement challenges remain, ISG Provider Lens report says

Utility companies in the U.K. have made significant strides in digital transformation in response to fast-moving energy trends, including decarbonization and decentralization, according to a new research report published by Information Services Group (ISG) (Nasdaq: III), a leading global technology research and advisory firm.

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“British utilities are reshaping the grid to keep it reliable as distributed generation and new power demands come online”

The 2022 ISG Provider Lens™ Power and Utilities — Services and Solutions report for the U.K. finds the British energy sector is ahead of North America in adopting new technologies and regulations, though utilities are still working to address changing customer preferences, rising energy costs, cybersecurity and the transition to renewable resources.

“British utilities are pioneers in smart grids and other new technologies,” said Tim Morley, director, ISG Northern Europe, based in the U.K. “Working with service providers, they are improving operational performance and driving increased efficiencies and enhanced customer service.”

In addition to increasing investments in smart grid research, testing and trials, the U.K. energy sector is expanding its use of other digital tools and services, including SaaS-based enterprise asset management to minimize downtime and latencies, cloud computing for advanced metering and data analysis and AI for resiliency and personalized customer service, the report says.

Utilities are quickly moving into wind, solar and other renewables, expecting to significantly increase green energy capacity in the next 10 years, as the U.K. government and enterprises set ambitious goals for net-zero emissions, ISG says. Integrating new energy sources, including power sold back to the grid by customers, along with the transition to electric vehicles (EVs), will require major upgrades to Britain’s transmission and distribution infrastructure.

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“British utilities are reshaping the grid to keep it reliable as distributed generation and new power demands come online,” said Jan Erik Aase, partner and global leader, ISG Provider Lens Research. “They are also preparing for new business models around EVs, energy storage and value-added services for prosumers.”

Customer demand for new digital experiences, influenced by trends in other industries, has led British utilities to invest in new customer service infrastructure, including advanced customer information systems. They are upgrading systems dominated by voice calling to omnichannel platforms that incorporate chatbots, robotic process automation and smart speaker interaction.

The report also examines other issues in the British utility sector, including the shortage of digital skills in an aging workforce, greater vulnerability to cyberattacks with a smart grid and the industry’s challenges in cloud adoption.

The 2022 ISG Provider Lens Power and Utilities — Services and Solutions report for the U.K. evaluates the capabilities of 33 providers across five quadrants: Intelligent Business Process Management Services (iBPMS), Next-Gen IT Services, Grid Modernization, Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) and Customer Information Systems (CIS).

The report names Accenture, IBM and Infosys as Leaders in all five quadrants. It names Cognizant as a Leader in four quadrants and Atos, Capgemini and TCS as Leaders in three quadrants each. EXL, Teleperformance and WNS are named as Leaders in two quadrants. CGI, HCL, Hitachi Vantara and Wipro are named as Leaders in one quadrant each.

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