Capgemini on integrating energy and automation

By William Girling
A report by F...

A report by French multinational Capgemini has identified the energy sector’s insufficient integration of automation as among its greatest mistakes.

Finding that roughly 50% of respondents in its survey had under-estimated the utility of intelligent automation (IA), the company estimates that savings between US$237bn and $813bn were broadly possible if uptake for the technology was increased. 

Defined as a holistic approach to digital transformation incorporating process management (BPM) and robotics (RPA), IA can result in a trinity of process optimisation, affecting users, systems and tasks. 

More than this, however, IA also incorporates aspects of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to keep systems flexible.

The challenges of implementation

Taken as a whole, the adoption of AI to some degree within energy companies has demonstrated exponential growth: 52% in 2019, a large step from the 28% reported just two years previously. 

However, Capgemini identifies issues around scaling tech innovations to the large operational frameworks energy companies operate in to be a problem, although this is far from a unique issue; other industries are experiencing similar challenges.

It may be from this difficulty in understanding the ‘big picture’ that the report also finds a general lack of awareness regarding easy-to-implement solutions (only 18% of organisations have done so). 

Relating to core functions, these include the use of AI and data analytics to augment forecasting, energy trading and yield optimisation amongst others.

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For ancillary tasks, i.e. functions which can easily be relieved by RPA, which can then allow an increase of diverted time for staff towards more qualitative tasks - contract management, defect detection, data management - the uptake was even slimmer: 11%.

If Capgemini’s report reveals anything, it is that the energy sector needs to be enlightened as to the significant benefits of integrating automation in its processes and to expand their horizons for its implementation. 

The steps towards success

The report recommends five steps in the roadmap for remedying this industry problem:

  • Focus on pragmatism: Business leaders need clear, empirical data and case studies of energy’s integration with automation in order to facilitate a practical change within their respective companies.

  • Know where to optimise: Identifying the key areas that could benefit most from increased efficiencies will show short-term gains and ease the holistic optimisation of all operations. 

  • Stay up-to-date: Technology is constantly upgrading, meaning it’s important to stay in the loop regarding the latest innovations and how they can be useful.

  • Maintain clear leadership: Nebulous management will impede or confuse the transition process, so always maintain a core executive with a unified vision. 

  • Invest in staff: Upgrading the technology of a company will mean upskilling the workforce appropriately; it is important to consider that increased automation could yield an entirely different work paradigm and staff will need to be part of it. 

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