This IDC study contains the outlook of IDC Energy Insights' analyst team for the worldwide utility industry for 2018, as well as the planning horizon for the next 24 months and beyond. The outlook is presented through the lens of the 10 predictions that make up, in IDC Energy Insights' view, the framework for IT and line-of-business (LOB) decision makers and influencers' technology-related initiatives in the year ahead (Figure 1). IDC Energy Insights' top 10 predictions for worldwide utilities for 2018 are:

  • 3D utility. By 2019, 85% of utilities in the G2000 will have established a new business unit with its own financing and governance, or a separate company, to speed up innovation and business transformation. 
  • Solar integration. Through 2020, solar — the fastest-growing form of distributed power globally — will drive distributed energy management system implementations and expansions of existing advanced distribution management systems by as much as 50%.
  • Microgrids. Through 2020, emerging markets will offer the largest growth opportunity for microgrids, reducing the need for bulk transmission systems and creating new revenue streams for up to 25% of utilities worldwide in the form of microgrid as a service (MaaS).
  • Electric vehicle (EV). With electric vehicles expected to increase 150% in the next three years, the number of electricity utilities with business units for emobility services will have doubled by 2021.
  • Blockchain. By 2021, 50% of gas and electricity utilities that are currently piloting distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) will move to commercial deployment in at least one of the following use cases: peer-to-peer energy exchange, emobility, and data integrity and protection.
  • Future of Work (FoW). By 2020, 25% of utilities will have moved from traditional talent sourcing strategies and models to virtual, borderless, and task-oriented approaches, integrating online communities and platforms to acquire skills and temporary staff.
  • Asset performance management (APM). By 2019, 75% of gas, water, and electricity utilities will be using some form of APM to manage critical operational assets, leading to an improvement of up to 10% in operational performance.
  • Drones. By 2020, 50% of all electricity transmission and distribution utilities will be using drones to evaluate service lines, thus reducing asset and inspection costs and achieving savings of up to 5% and 30%, respectively.
  • Customer experience (CX). In 2018, in targeting millennials, gas and electricity suppliers will dedicate 50% of their customer-experience–related IT budgets to digital channels, product marketplaces, and personalized services, leading to gains of up to 2 points in their Customer Effort Scores.
  • IT/OT security. By 2019, driven by executive-board focus, 30% of utilities worldwide will have modified their security approaches, abandoning "perimeter defense" in favor of a resiliency-oriented model, which integrates IT and OT, cybersecurity and physical security, and data protection and privacy.

"Utilities across the world have embraced transformation. The pace varies according to local market conditions. Nevertheless, all of them need to handle a diverse workforce, remove silos of innovation, and scale up new initiatives," said Roberta Bigliani, vice president, IDC Energy Insights.



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