Energy dives head first into cloud

Microsoft, AWS

By Yun Zhi Lin, Director of Innovation, APAC, and Chief Innovation Officer at Contino

Australian energy providers are an essential service, making reliable infrastructure that is both resilient and agile a prerequisite for optimal performance. The Australian Energy Regulator recently reinforced the importance of organisational resilience in its Statement of Expectations, highlighting the energy market’s essential role in protecting and supporting businesses and the community through the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, it called for providers to show flexibility to vulnerable customers. These conditions call for adaptability, agility and resilience, which can only be found in the cloud.

Cloud computing refers to “on-demand” computing services accessed across a network from a third party, rather than an organisation buying and running these technologies itself. Servers, networks, storage, applications and services can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This is analogous to how we get electricity: as a commodity, on demand. 

There are ample technical and business benefits of the cloud, making the growing trend of cloud adoption in the energy industry no surprise. 

Increased resiliency

Major cloud providers operate from a variety of geographic locations to ensure that should one data centre be out of action, another can instantly pick up the slack with no interruption to service. 

Latency is crucial for delivering high-quality experiences. The geographic reach of the cloud ensures energy providers’ customers receive the best possible performance, regardless of where they’re located. 

What’s more, the public cloud can enhance regulation and compliance efforts. Cloud providers operate on a shared responsibility model and must ensure their hardware and services are completely compliant with local regulations.

These characteristics are critical in a market like energy, where reliability and resiliency are crucial.

Improved customer experience

A key focus I’ve seen emerge among energy firms this year is improving customer experience (CX). What the past few months have shown–and what the future will hold with the Consumer Data Right–is that customers are more empowered with choice than ever before.

Energy providers must constantly be evolving to meet the needs of customers. The cloud lays the foundation for the continuous deployment of new features on a daily basis, while freeing up technical teams to focus on customer improvements, instead of break fixes.

Cloud-hosted contact centres and cloud-native chatbots are just some ways energy companies are using the technology to exceed customer expectations. Benefits like reduced customer response time, resource and cost savings and scalability make it a highly attractive integrated solution for customer-facing operations. Additionally, cloud-native data platforms can empower energy companies with real-time data analytics to improve customer experience. A good example of this is using data to understand consumption and predict which customers could churn.

In an ever-evolving market like energy where competition across B2B and B2C energy sales continues to increase and companies are expected to be customer-centric, the cloud has a key role to play in driving competitive advantage.

Market adaptability

Traditional, on-premise-based approaches mean week-long waits for infrastructure, inconsistent environments and slow, bureaucratic change management processes. In contrast, the cloud arms organisations with the ability to customise offerings and innovate at speed to preserve market share. This is especially important in the COVID-19 era; in conjunction with rapidly evolving Consumer Data Standards moving into Open Energy, energy companies need to be prepared to capitalise on new business channels with digital solutions.

Cloud technology has become a vital asset to energy providers that are serious about being competitive. The cloud enables more agility, elasticity, resilience and efficiency–all of which are necessary to achieve market-leading performance in today’s ever-evolving energy landscape.