To answer this, let’s look at trends, industry trends and IT trends.
The main utility industry trends are changing energy portfolios, efficient asset usage, smarter grids and a better customer experience. This is where companies focus on and invest, in people, assets and processes.
The main IT trends are big data, mobile, social and cloud. Utilities do not focus directly on technology; it rather helps to better deal with business priorities. Let’s try to translate the IT trends in simpler terms to make more sense of it. Big data equals lots of information. Mobile equals everywhere, any time. Social equals connected and communication. Cloud equals not worrying about hardware or software.
Now, is the mobile hype over? I think yes, the technology hype is over because the technology is no longer a limiting factor. Mobile is a mainstream supporting technology and, in connection with other IT trends, enables new and transformed business processes. For example mobile asset maintenance or mobile multichannel customer experience is part of an overall solution.
So what was the hype? I think it was based on the broad availability of new technology. Smart phones, tablets, wireless networks, cloud services, platforms and more drove a new wave of apps, both in business and personal lives. And it transformed many processes. The question was no longer based on limits like: ‘Can all of this information be available any time, anywhere?’. The questions are more like: ‘We struggle with this process, how can we improve it’. Most likely, mobile, cloud and social will be part of the solution.
Here is an example how this can work.
‘What’s for dinner?’ Our 3 kids ask this every day. They even call or text to find out. The curiosity of them is one side, the other side is that dinner for 5 requires some logistics. And we don’t like to eat the same thing every 2 or 4 weeks like in some cafeterias. Eventually, my wife and I decided to transform this process.
We adopted a so-called eternal meal plan. We found this idea from a family in Berlin, he is a music critic and his family was faced with the same challenge. Preparing a self-cooked dinner every day can often lead to last minute or at the shelf decisions and some stress, or a fall back to simple dishes like pasta with tomato sauce or a lot of improvisation.
With a composition like in a musical piece this can be much more enjoyable. First, you set a base rhythm. In our case, it is driven by the sides and has a weekly pattern: potatoes, rice, pasta, none of it, potatoes, rice, pasta. When it repeats it differs, at least slightly. Mashed potatoes on Monday means peeled potatoes on Saturday and fries the following Monday. Then, main dishes like meat and other sides are added to make a full meal. This is overlaid with themes like ‘fish at least once a week’ and ‘something new once a month’. Every 6 weeks there is a similar repeat and every 12 weeks it’s more or less identical, so we eat the same thing 4 times a year. We make the plan 2-4 weeks in advance, the document is only in the cloud, no paper or local copies, available real-time, anywhere, on all our devices.
It looks like this:
After a few weeks we found that the variety is much better, shopping became easier because in the store it’s less random, less stressful. And it also means that only 4 times a year I have to eat things I do not enjoy, for example risotto, but I can live with that.
So what’s for dinner? Let’s check my mobile, buffalo burgers with home fries, nice.