Talking about how the concept of data is perceived for Utilities, I think the importance lies on the democratization of data and making it as open as possible to relevant stakeholders. Looking closely at Utilities, the example of ‘digital twins’ is a pertinent one where more often than not the data is shared within the ecosystem and can be accessed remotely. The National Digital Twin Initiative in the UK is a push for data shared across industries. However, putting a governance structure is important for the data sharing process to safeguard especially smaller sectors and achieve widespread interoperability. Considering data is anti-rival, Utilities and associated partners must use data as an enabler to unlock innovation, building trust, and as a path to solve challenges.
Looking beyond Utilities, the BFSI sector, for example, is a prolific consumer of peer-to-peer and customer consensus data and thus empowers the end customers. Regulatory communication, based on periodic and real-time reporting through a range of APIs holds prime importance for the industry. Utilities can pick up the good practices from BFSI and come up with a more flexible and efficient regulatory communication.
Taking a cue from BFSI, the way the industry is demonstrating the importance of open banking, Utilities can do the same by extrapolating data potentially leading to a purpose-driven initiative, net-zero for example. The real value of data lies in collaboration and learning as a whole than silos, with the right mix of the regulatory framework, meaningful use cases, all under the watchful eyes of a central governing body. Ofgem, for example, can that play the regulator for the central function?
As the future beckons for Utilities, we wonder how open data can help push for decarbonization, and achieve net-zero targets. What are the challenges the industry needs to address? One of the key challenges is the question of the interoperability of data. Standardization and laying down an agreed protocol for data exchange is the first step to combat that challenge. It is imperative to follow the same principles of open data sharing in an organization. With this, we can foresee wholesale changes and breaking down of business silos to enable the right flow of the enterprise data which leadership must shepherd. And this is where we need a central team to drive awareness and create a business case. data portals often tend to operate in an unstructured manner with less than keen eyes for data sweet spots. The publishing of data is important, but not at the cost of misinterpretation of those. Delving deep into the formation of a central body, we can cite the example of the ‘land and expand’ model that brings integrators and consultancies under one roof. Utilities can certainly follow this path.
At this point, Utilities are in a nascent stage when it comes to opening the data. There is a gamut of fundamental things to address, regulators must help the companies push the envelope. What can be a great starting point? How do you see the open data roadmap is panning out? The jury is still out.