The expanding energy and utilities sector of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are being transformed into a showpiece of technology, science and business throwing up major challenges and opportunities, according to a new focussed report.
Prepared by international research company GRS Explori, the Tech Trends report, focussed on the opinions of over 2,220 C-suite, senior managers, engineers and business developers operating in the MENA sector. All agreed that power and utility companies are facing “a non-stop stream of questions, challenges and opportunities.
”The respondents said that while change will be a constant in areas such as regulation, external threats and consumer expectations new technology tools will help enhance the sectors’ efficiency making it more resilient.
Key technology advances in the utilities sector have been identified as security for distribution grids, data insights from smart meters and improved training and certification with online tools.
The report, produced in co-operation with Informa Markets, the name behind the flagship Middle East Energy show which will run at the Dubai World Trade Centre from March 3-5, 2020, also says sector leaders need to be on top of technology trends to succeed.
Key trends it says will be macro technology, AI influences, increased cloud migration, greater product connectivity, data-enabled marketing, tighter cyber-security and digital road maps for a sustainable future.
Mapping an intersected ‘Tech-Science-Business’ road map which goes well beyond the digital frontier will be a key imperative for sector operators, says the report.
“Developing a systematic approach for identifying and harnessing opportunities born of the intersections of technology, science, and business is an essential first step in demystifying digital transformation, and making it concrete, achievable, and measurable. To reduce the cost of power line inspections, utilities are exploring the use of drones to gather unstructured data. Operators use enhanced visualisation and interfaces to operate the drones as they gather vast amounts of data for further analysis that can recognise conditions such as vegetation encroachment, downed power lines, smoke, or pipeline maintenance issues,” it says.
Other predictions include a grid move towards multi-directional networking with millions of buyers and sellers with pilot technologies including Blockchain for secure financials, IoT for grid monitoring and AI/data science to predict supply and demand transforming the industry.
Pressure to limit O&M costs and meet increased regulation will see utilities adopt DevOps and containerisation, using the cloud to build highly flexible platform-agnostic IT solutions including energy efficiency portals and seamless customer self-service applications that transcend services and geographies.
New products will feature greater connectivity, a new generation of micro marketing tools and techniques will emerge powered by data-enabled technologies while savvy operators will strengthen their approaches to cyber security and cyber risk.
“What is being projected is an industry set for a complete 360 degree transformation where techies, scientists and business developers work together to advance the sectors, keep pace with ever rising customer expectations, maintain tight cost controls, meet new compliance standards and ring fence their cyber and operations assets,” explained Gareth Rapley, Group Director, Industrial, at Informa Markets, organiser of Middle East Energy. “And while the challenges may seem immense, they bring with them huge opportunities for those determined to deliver a hyper efficient, profitable and secure industry.”