Recently I traveled to Madrid, Spain to spend some quality time with my colleagues from outside of North America. I ate lots of tapas and paella, saw an amazing flamenco performance, and learned so much about utilities across the globe.

It was enlightening to hear about the unique challenges utility service providers face in different regions of the world. However, one thing remains consistent across the globe – utilities want secure, timely, robust and accurate data. When researching AMI vendors, utilities are not as focused on technical meter specifications, they are looking for the end-to-end technology solution that solves their specific challenges. What really matters is access to reliable data and the software that uses that data to solve problems.

Is there such a thing as too much ibérico ham and manchego cheese? I think not.

There are five clear software trends that resonate with utilities around the world. Whether the utility is seeking an MDM for basic reporting or an advanced analytics applications for their data scientists to use, these five trends apply across the board.

1. Security

Utilities recognize the delicate balance of needing more data and the security concerns that come with collecting and storing that data. Of course you’ve heard of GDPR. What about NIST, SGIP, AMI-SEC, NERC-CIP…? The alphabet soup of security certifications and standards compliance is vast and should be core to the software provider’s business. Utilities want to feel safe to focus on what is core to their business: providing excellent service to their customers. Utilities are seeking a solution that offers peace of mind, knowing their data is protected end-to-end.

2. Domain Knowledge

While there is no shortage of analytics software vendors in the market, utilities place great value on solution providers with experience in the industry. Software developed by utility experts for utilities provides a greater level of ease-of-use, faster integration and implementation, and the ability to deliver value immediately.

3. Customer Engagement

Twenty-first century customers want control. They want easy, digital access to product and service information. And they want to be empowered to make immediate decisions that affect them without sitting on hold on the phone or battling language barriers. Utilities are starting to realize that “customer service” has become “customer self-service.” Check out our blog post, Customer Engagement in the Era of Instant Gratification to learn more about the growing trend of customer portals for utilities.

4. Smart Cities

Utility systems are fundamental to every community, but forward-thinking utilities are planning beyond metering to true intelligent resource management and monetization of their assets. Smart cities start with smart infrastructure and the software that enables these applications. Utilities want software that will grow with them to analyze data – from many types of sensors and devices – such as temperature, pressure, depth, distance, light, smoke and more.  

5. Interoperability

Interoperability is synonymous with the “easy button.” (Does the easy button metaphor resonate outside of North America? I’m not sure.) Utilities don’t want to waste time or valuable IT resources with complicated system and data integrations.  They want software that can read data from all kinds of devices and easily integrate data from multiple third party sources and systems.

Software is at the heart of all smart utility technology

While many things change from region to region (although I would vote to adopt the Spanish lifestyle in the US!), the “smart” from smart meters really comes from the data driven decision making enabled by software.