Gartner: Keys to Utility Digitalization

Last year, many utilities took the initiative to adopt digital technologies. Now in 2019, over one-third of utilities are scaling their efforts, demonstrating proof of digitalization’s value for the sector.

As utilities take this vital leap, how can they ensure success? Gartner recommends they balance optimization of existing resources with initiatives for digital transformation. Read on for an overview on why this balance is important and tips for getting there.

“37% of utilities are moving their digitalization efforts from initiating to scaling—a significant leap from last year.”
– Gartner

Optimizing resources

Utilities today are primarily using digital technologies to optimize their existing processes—for example, automating processes to boost operational efficiency and cost savings or leveraging data to improve asset performance and customer engagement.

Think drones for asset inspection, artificial intelligence (AI) for predictive maintenance, the Internet of Things (IoT) for grid-based generation, and robotic process automation (RPA) for customer service. Optimization is a logical place to start, given utilities’ large customer bases and the asset-intensive nature of their business. But it’s only one part of the digitalization journey.

Transforming revenues

Game-changing technologies such as AI, IoT, cloud, and automation must also be leveraged for digital transformation, which Gartner defines as revenue generation from digitally enabled products and services. According to Gartner: “If you are not developing, partnering, or investing in new digital business ventures for the new distributed energy world, the competition, traditional or new, could steal your business.”

Consider how digital innovation might support new business models in generation, production, trading, or customer services—for example:

  • Blockchain for electric vehicle charging networks
  • Peer-to-peer energy exchanges
  • Services for distributed energy resources (e.g., solar and virtual power plants)
  • Digital products for home energy management

Meanwhile, as utility businesses become increasingly information-centric, they can’t overlook the significance of data and analytics. Imagine how data analytics can draw out even more insight from the information collected by intelligent devices  such as network sensors, drones, and smart meters.

Scaling efforts through a balanced approach

As digitalization becomes a top priority for utility CIOs, they must work with stakeholders from IT and business to pursue digital optimization and digital transformation. The full report Gartner 2019 CIO Agenda: Utility Industry Insights is a “must read” for insights on:

  • Where utilities are focusing their digital innovation efforts
  • How they are balancing the demand for digital optimization with the imperative for digital transformation
  • Recommendations for adopting digital technologies and transforming into a digital utility

To learn more on how Appian is helping energy organizations to realize their digital potential and achieve impressive results, visit

Jenna Harvey
Industry Marketing Manager