Digital Revolutions

DR

Markets have been constantly evolving from pre-internet era of viscous state through fluid state over last decade with internet democratized access to information, reducing buyer-seller information asymmetry. Digital Revolutions with the advent of AI, Blockchain, Robotics, AR/VR, and hyper connected driven IoT technologies are forcing companies to functioning in a state of super fluidity in recent times.

Fortune 1000 organizations and VC backed startups are applying AI, ML, AR/VR, Blockchain and IoT to empower enterprises to make intelligent decisions, prioritizing and driving next-gen innovations improving the success rates. As an enthusiast envisioning the success of superfluid markets and with know-how of recent technology developments, I would like to summarize below the driving forces of Digital Revolutions

  • Key characteristics of Digital Revolutions: As businesses are trying to become intelligent enterprises with real times responses, there is an increasing demand for dematerializing their physical assets with digital touchpoints. In these times, business operations, supply chain, supporting infrastructure and technology, and enormous volumes of data becomes software driven making enterprises become hyper connected seamlessly and derive proactive insights. This is leading to Digital Revolutions offering a rich user/consumer experiences.
  • Blockchain and IoT are expediting the pace of Digital Revolutions: We have now entered the age of superfluid markets, which represents the convergence of multiple forces. While many transaction costs were reduced during the fluid market period, costs around contracting, trust and the policing and enforcing of contracts remained high. The maturation of blockchain technology as a transaction engine in which trust is “built in” will reduce even these costs. With the Internet of Things, physical goods are being sensed, tagged and linked to the Internet, with the promise to better match supply and demand. Intelligent agents will soon anticipate buyer preferences before buyers themselves. The intersection of blockchain and IoT will create autonomous markets that run themselves cheaply and efficiently. The gig economy implies increasingly superfluid labor markets. And these developments may just represent the tip of the iceberg. Examples include,
    • Blockchain potentiality to offer intrinsic business value in integrated utilities management with a reliable, low-cost way for recording validating financial or operational transactions across a distributed network with no central point of authority. Peer-to-peer energy trading, Billing of AV charging stations, Power Ledger and Smart grid management systems are few use cases.
    • Visa’s IoT platform designed to bring the point-of-sale everywhere by allowing businesses to introduce secure payment experiences quickly to any device connected to the IoT. Visa’s vision and belief is to securely embed payments and commerce into any device—from a watch to a ring to an appliance or a car.
  • Robotics and Bots are first steps of organization in taking advantages of Digital Revolutions: Robotics are emerging to pick up precision heavy activities and “bots” leveraging AI is taking customer service and experience to the next level. Take a look at inVia that is introducing “robotics-as-a-service” to the new economy with first “goods-to-box” warehouse packing system. This new robotics system that put goods directly into shipping boxes. Instead of investing in a fleet of robots, customers pay a monthly service fee.
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are big boost to Digital Revolutions: AI combine with machine learning is paving ways to new business models. AI technologies already pervade human lives progressing beyond simply building systems that are intelligent to building intelligent systems that are human-aware and trustworthy.
  • AR/VR is becoming a driving force of Digital Revolutions. Let us take examples of retail industry transformation. Virtual reality (VR), along with its sister technology augmented reality (AR), offers retailers the opportunity to transform how people shop. One customer might try on shirts without having to travel to the store. Another might order furniture on the spot, confident that it’s right for the house. Applications using either technology stand to eliminate customer pain points, elevate customer service, and create a differentiated, personalized customer experience. The successful incorporation of VR and AR into retail models also has the potential to vastly change the way retailers are thinking about stores of the future

Digital Revolutions are leading to superfluid markets which will continue to evolve differently across different industries and companies. These transformations are what we continue to explore into future. There is a pressing need for companies to collaborate exchanging ideas, trend spotting, and tap innovations to succeed in  future frictionless markets.

Changing Landscape of Integrated Utilities with Blockchain & Cloud Enablement

Utility

Integrated utilities are undergoing a phenomenal transformation with the convergence of utility operations with IT and emergence of blockchain and cloud technologies enabling smart grid operations. I would like to highlight below the latest developments in integrated utilities and specific anecdotes of technology interventions in this evolving space.

Blockchain magic: While blockchain remains largely unproven, and significant barriers remain, it has potential to offer intrinsic business value In integrated utilities management offering a reliable, low-cost way for recording validating financial or operational transactions across a distributed network with no central point of authority.

  • Peer-to-peer energy trading: One of the use case of Blockchain is in updating and improving centralized, legacy systems with a distributed hybrid system made up of both large power plants and micro grids powered by distributed energy resources such as solar power. This shift is prompting the industry to focus on blockchain’s potential to make peer-to-peer energy trading a reality with an integrated trading system that would permit businesses to trade their option to use electricity during a given time frame. For example, one business entity could sell few minutes of unused power during a down time to a different entity that needs additional power. Trading grid flexibility in this way could provide large efficiency benefits for grid operators.
  • Billing of AV charging stations: Innogy, the subsidiary of the German energy company RWE announced that it has launched hundreds of Ethereum blockchain-powered charging stations for electric cars across Germany through its e-mobility startup venture Share & Charge.
  • Power Ledger: Australian energy startup Power Ledger also offers a blockchain-based solution for delivering locally produced renewable energy to the end consumer. Their software allows for tracking every unit of sold energy providing a secure revenue stream for DNSPs. Therefore, energy producers get a transparent, auditable and automated network for trading without involving any third-parties.
  • Consumer switching of Power suppliers: Blockchain technology could enable customers to switch power suppliers more quickly. British startup Electron offers solution for quick change of energy suppliers through blockchain. They cooperate with Data Communications Company, which offers a list of British energy suppliers having Smart Energy Code. Previously, it took much more time and effort to change energy supplier if a customer was dissatisfied with their current services for some reason.
  • Smart grid management systems: Grid Singularity, a startup in Austria, offers multiple blockchain-based solutions for the energy sector, including apps for energy data analysis and benchmarking, smart grid management, trading of green certificates, investment decisions and energy trade validation. Aiming to develop a decentralized energy exchange platform with numerous functions and opportunities for users who can benefit from simple and efficient energy-trading and exchange.

Business relevance of cloud: New-age integrated utilities businesses are offering programs like demand response, virtual power plants, distribution and substation automation, renewable and distributed generation, wide area measurement systems, home area networks and time-of-use pricing. Ability to leverage new sources of information and flexible & scalable IT infrastructure is central to success of these programs.

  • Sporadic and massive fluctuations in workloads: It has been estimated that globally smart meter installations will reach 800M+ by 2020. Smart meters enable utilities move from monthly reads, to meter reads once every 15 minutes. This is leading to massive increase in amounts of data that demand scalable IT infrastructure in connected (IoT) arena.
  • Cloud applicability: Cloud precisely address the integrated utilities business needs by providing scalable, readily available computing and storage environments. Dynamic provisioning is the need of the day for utilities business. Also cloud offers standardized technology platform that make utilities to standardize and automate processes leading to service centric business model.
  • Compliance and security controls: Consolidation, virtualization and centralization of IT resources with cloud makes it easier to manage security controls, to apply consistent security technologies across the enterprise and to ensure the utility is meeting its compliance regulations, like FERC, NERC-CIP, and EPA etc.
  • Roadmap to cloud: The tested path for integrated utilities in cloud adoption is first start with internal and enterprise application services. Then move onto new business processes at enterprise scale, and finally evolve to the as-a-service model. Simultaneously evaluate bringing benefits of cloud to operational applications like SCADA, DMS, EMS and OMS and new applications like data warehousing, electric vehicles, demand response and distribution and substation automation.

Startup companies are constantly exploring the potential of blockchain and cloud technologies that are enabling integrated utilities promoting curiosity among technopreneurs in exchanging ideas, trend spotting, and spot innovations and implications in new-age integrated utility environment.