2016 is the ‘year of the consumer’

2016 will be an important year for the utility metering industry, with global shipments reaching historic highs and an expected upward trend for the rest of the decade.

According to the IHS Smart Utility Meters Intelligence Service, 2016 will be the first year the revenue from two-way communication-enabled meters will exceed that of all other meters combined.

The research suggested five important trends for utility leaders in the coming year:

More consolidation – at least one large smart meter vendor will be purchased by a well-known industrial company

Collaborations in large-scale utility projects are nothing new, but we can expect to see these collaborations become more common in 2016. Major metering projects in Europe and Asia – and increasingly complicated and interdependent systems – will force co-operation among vendors that would traditionally have worked independently. More large companies are also expected to acquire smaller vendors with specialised capabilities, to help them achieve end-to-end utility solutions.

The true potential of Internet of Things (IoT) in utilities will be demonstrated to the world

Although there is still a long way to go for ubiquitous automation in metering and distribution systems, the true potential of IoT in utilities will at long last be demonstrated to the world this year. Many utilities will increasingly focus on the communication protocols of their meters, rather than the meter itself, resulting in tenders geared specifically to communications companies.

The combination of high retirement portfolios, massive projects, and changing labor needs will increase utility hiring

A major shift in utility industry employee demographics will occur this year. The workforce has been aging rapidly and fewer young people have been replacing them, but in 2016 there will be increasing urgency for younger workers, as utilities and manufacturers seek to replace retiring workers, meet increasing demand and gain modern, often tech-savvy, skillsets that weren’t required in the past.

Legislation will be the top driver of new smart meter installations

For the first time, global revenue from utility meters and corresponding communication hardware will exceed $12 billion. Some of this revenue will come from much higher global demand for two-way wireless radios, advanced static technologies and other high-cost metering technologies, but the sheer volume of shipments will be the main cause for the industry’s incredible growth.

Consumers will change utility providers more than ever before

Many utilities markets around the world are being deregulated, which will increase competition among their services – this means customer satisfaction will be a pivotal focus. In the past consumer concerns were often viewed as less important than meeting regulatory requirements and making rate cases, but this year promises to be the “year of the consumer.”