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How IT/OT integration is defining the future of utilities

Learn more about how Maikel van Verseveld, CEO of OMNETRIC Group, is venturing into new territory—figuratively, and literally.

Why is the integration of information and operations technology so important to the industry?

We are seeing many new things impacting the grid—things like renewables, energy storage and electric vehicles. Integrating all of those components into the grid is a significant challenge for utilities.

On top of that, many utilities have siloed systems that can’t communicate with each other. So, in short, without better integration, utilities won’t be able to meet their core business objectives, see improved grid reliability and stability, or potentially lower operational costs.

Is this happening all over the world?

While all utilities are seeing this integration as essential to their business, the United States probably got out of the gate first. In Europe, transmission companies are now aggressively pursuing this as well. On the other hand, distribution businesses have largely been focused on smart meters. In Asia-Pacific and Africa, things have started a little later, but we’re seeing their efforts accelerating.

We’ve heard people use the term “death spiral” with reference to utilities, what’s your opinion on this?

You’re right. I’ve recently read a number of news articles saying that the end of the grid is near, because people will be creating and consuming their own energy. I think there are a lot of physical limitations to that scenario.

The true story is that consumers are looking at energy companies much more closely, because of increasing energy prices. If regulators, the financing sector, and consumers start scrutinizing grid companies about their business models, utilities are going to have to change in order to stay in business in the future.

We understanding you are the new CEO of OMNETRIC Group, a new joint venture developed with Siemens. Where did the name OMNETRIC Group come from?

OMNETRIC stands for “omni electric” and “omni metric.” It is about the whole energy system, and using data to create value for both utilities and consumers.

How does it feel to finally have OMNETRIC Group launched?

High alpine ski touring is one of my favorite hobbies, and the past few months have felt a bit like completing one of the most complex “haute route” tours of my alpine career. For the non-skiers, haute route means the high route or the mountaineer’s route.

In ski touring, the planning phase is often done months before the actual trip. Then we see who’s interested in joining the expedition, and what each person’s ambitions are. The true experience of the trip is created by the composition of the team. To me, this is similar to the journey Accenture and Siemens have taken in creating OMNETRIC Group.