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BLOG: Energy industry: Who will win in the cloud?

Richard Holsman, managing director for Accenture’s energy technology business | March 5, 2013
Energy companies are looking to cloud computing. The question is which will be leaders and which will play catch-up.

Cloud and Customer Engagement

As competition for retail and business customers intensifies, energy companies are striving to build deeper customer relationships and brand value.

Energy companies will make growing use of cloud-based customer relationship management and social media, including building 'green' branding and becoming more actively involved in the blogosphere, to engage with activists.

As an example, Accenture used cloud computing to create a social media platform for the Green Guardians team in the Shell Eco-marathon Challenge, which involved students from around the world designing, building and testing vehicles that travel farther using less energy. The cloud contributed to reduced costs and enhanced functionality of the platform, enabling it to handle peak traffic over the three days of the race.

Cloud and Next-Generation Energy, Environment and Health

Energy companies are navigating their transition to the next-generation energy mix, which will include lower-carbon alternatives and renewables, and will be accompanied by a greater focus on protecting the environment.

Cloud computing can help navigate this journey by allowing companies to track and manage their environmental impact, and monitor ever-more complex equipment remotely in real time.

For example, cloud-based data-management can completely replace existing stand-alone data systems and reporting tools to provide a comprehensive integrated solution to one of the hydrofracking industry's most vexing problems - the centralisation and management of complex data pertaining to contaminated water, groundwater, soil and air.

As energy companies start to move more activities into the cloud, Accenture's experience shows that there are three steps that business and IT leaders should be taking now to start getting value from cloud today and prepare for major advances in capabilities tomorrow.

Firstly, asses the company's cloud readiness and define the strategy. Secondly, launch targeted pilots to prove the benefits of cloud. And finally, put key building blocks in place to support future progress, such as upgrading security models to reflect the new IT environment, start moving infrastructure to the cloud and consider the new IT skills that will be required.

Cloud computing presents major opportunities for energy companies. When combined with mobile technology and analytics, it stands to change the game in the industry. However, to succeed in this technology-driven game, energy companies need to commit to an on-going journey to cloud enablement. They should start that journey today, or they will find themselves struggling to compete with cloud-powered competitors.

 

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