Utilities Next

Building a Resilient, Purpose-Driven Future for the Utilities Industry

 
July 1, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world and derailed most walks of life. Industries, such as Utilities, are essentials, and therefore, have had to find ways to provide uninterrupted services during COVID-19. We have seen all of our customers achieve this quite successfully. Resilient operations have always been the focus of every Utility company. However, unlike other macro events and emergencies of the past, this pandemic has exposed many other vulnerabilities across the Utilities value chain. Stress on the financial structure, challenges of the supply chain, and risks to the workforce have been quite unprecedented. There has been a widespread impact due to customers’ anxiety to pay bills, securing the health and safety of the field workforce, and reduced demand in industrial consumption. The financial stress and regulatory intervention, as well as the volatile markets, further complicate the state of affairs. This, we believe, calls for relooking at the purpose of Utilities. Being a ‘partner in crisis’ for all stakeholders is therefore of paramount importance. To achieve this, it would be necessary for Utilities to look at resilience beyond operations, such as workforce safety and effectiveness, flexible supply chain, and dynamic financial planning.

Looking at the last few months, it is evident how the intelligent adoption of technology was as important as being empathetic to everything around us. The survivors and leaders in the new normal will be those organizations that will leverage the abundance of technology available. Through this, they not only can continue providing current services but also create new capabilities. Empowering people, proactively managing safety, enabling simulations and modeling, harnessing the enormous amount of data available, and exploiting the on-demand options are some ways of embracing the risks that the pandemic has created. The ecosystem play and purpose-driven culture of the Utilities industry would gain more relevance going forward.

In our thought leadership analysis, we examine the effects of the pandemic on all dimensions of business in the Utilities industry. The impact on every Utility varies and this is discussed here by looking at the various parameters that influence it. This is based on macro factors such as geography, policies, recovery packages of the country, specific roles the Utility plays in the value chain, and their portfolio mix. The path for Utilities to develop resilience is to become adaptable in the following areas:

  • Financial capital and planning: Utilities firms must relook at their capital expenditure programs and identify which essential/must-have categories they must direct their spends. At the same time, firms must meet shareholder expectations while also managing financing needs.

  • Stakeholder empowerment: With remote working becoming the norm, the Utilities industry has seen a rise in the use of digital technologies, which have not only enhanced the productivity and ensured the safety of their employees but has also helped firms offer essential services. Besides, Utility firms are also leveraging their ecosystem partnerships to offer customers multiproduct offerings for essential services during COVID-19.

  • Running the core: Technologies like robotic process automation can help Utility firms automate operations so that investments can be prioritized in core systems. The increasing use of collaboration tools has pushed Utility firms to reassess their information security setup to protect personal and enterprise data.

Technology can accelerate the journey to developing adaptable, resilient, and purpose-driven Utility firm. We have also mentioned examples of the methods and solutions adopted by Utilities across the globe to deal with the aftereffects of the pandemic. Undoubtedly, the leaders of the future would be the ones who will take swift actions on the opportunity this situation has thrown, without waiting for the macro to change.

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As the Global Head of the Utilities Business Unit at Tata Consultancy Services, Sudheer has been working with several Fortune 500 Utilities CXOs in formulating their strategy on Run, Transform, and Reimagine. Sudheer has been instrumental in achieving high growth rates for the business unit, and more importantly, establishing TCS as a formidable player in this industry. Sudheer considers his real success in being able to constantly challenge the status quo respecting the nuances of the industry and building a champion TCS Utilities team.

Sudheer has spent three decades with TCS. A veteran in the company, he started his career in the architecture group of a large transformation engagement in Europe. Since then, he has performed a wide range of roles from program management and account management to sales. He has also set up and run the Migration and Re-engineering service practice where he consolidated and built TCS' IP in this space. He has been heading the Utilities Business Unit for more than a decade now.

Sudheer is a Computer Science graduate and has deep interest in music, books, and connecting with people.