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Effective IT/OT integration for distribution utilities

Integration of data and operations is critical for business benefits and greater performance.

The need to transform distribution operating and business models

Distribution utility businesses must rethink and transform their business and operating models to address issues of cost, reliability and network access. To respond to this increasingly complex future, distribution utilities will need to evolve their business and operating models toward becoming a distribution platform optimizer. Driving effective IT/OT integration will be critical to enable data and operations to seamless work together to achieve business outcomes and greater future performance.

Distribution utilities identify a number of priority capability areas that IT/OT integration would greatly support. While these areas cover a broad range of key business issues, from network modeling and crew management to business intelligence and electric vehicle load optimization, there are three main high-priority areas:

The momentum behind the requirement for IT/OT integration is considerable. Pressing challenges and opportunities facing distribution utilities hinge on the ability to successfully combine data and services from previously distinct domains. Distribution utilities need to grasp the implications for their organization, systems and skills as a priority. Our research highlights that utility executives are keenly aware of the significance of getting IT/OT integration right and moving ahead decisively.

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IT/OT BENEFITS

According to Accenture's Digitally Enabled Grid IT/OT survey, there are three main high-level benefit areas that utilities executives expect to see from IT/OT integration. It is clear executives expect IT/OT integration to support the core business capabilities, making better use of internal and external data sources to improve decision making and provide better service levels.


Core business areas?


% of utility executives who believe these areas will benefit the most from IT/OT integration

70%
Improved decision making through analysis of operational data (e.g., asset management, workforce planning, etc.)
46%
Improved real-time operations via incorporation of external data (e.g., weather data, electricity prices, CIS outage data, etc.)
46%
Improved customer service level


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RECOMMENDATIONS


For distribution utilities, IT/OT integration is a necessity, not a choice. Integration holds the potential to produce considerable business benefits, however, achieving these benefits will require overcoming a number of barriers: developing a new approach, dealing with complexity, and regulatory and cybersecurity challenges.

Five key steps to IT/OT convergence

Integrated strategy
Integrated strategy
Integrated governance structure
Integrated governance structure
Organization-wide change management
Organization-wide change management
Cybersecurity at the heart of all design and operations
Cybersecurity at the heart of all design and operations
Inclusive covergence approach
Inclusive covergence approach

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