Our dependence on energy sources is both increasing and changing, with the advent of greener initiatives. Because of the growth of alternative energy sources, existing energy providers are in a race to find new ways to both increase operational performance and cut costs. Typically, the path to more performance + less cost is innovation. In the last half-decade, we’ve seen much of that innovation come from advanced algorithms and software implementation.
The rise of Internet of Things
IoT has become huge in the energy sector, with just the industrial sensors market growing at about 7% per year. There are expected to be 3 billion units shipped by 2025. GlobalData actually did a recent report on big data use in the energy and utilities sectors, noting that “Cloud computing, machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, blockchain and cybersecurity are being deployed by utilities in their operations.” As the report notes:
“The challenge for utilities is to make this data useful and generate actionable insights on aspects such as consumer behavior and demand-supply balance, from it. Benefiting from large datasets is not straightforward and utilities need to deploy a range of new IT solutions that allow them to collect the data in consistent ways, as well as transport, secure, analyze and store it.”
In short: using IoT or machine learning or any other newer technology to gather the data is only the first step. You then need a way to utilize it and benefit from it.
What does that look like?
We worked with an Austrian company with over 5,000 employees that focused on three areas: Perfect Welding, Solar Energy, and Perfect Charging. Their solar cloud/web team was working on end-user applications for people with photovoltaic systems in their homes (or companies). It involved a tremendous amount of data passing through the system, and their internal team needed some help on the project.
This was a complex process, including hardware and low-level programming, back-end services and front-end applications -- and many different teams that are responsible for specific parts of the process. We helped their team create a REST service for large users (a couple of hundred PV systems) and external partners (a couple of thousand PV systems). We worked with .NET core and new auxiliary tools for fast, optimized processes around the movement of data.
Where the changes are happening
In 2019, the EU got 15% of its energy from wind. There is a growing push for the EU to align with 2050 climate objectives, and for energy companies across the EU to keep up. Battery power is an increasing industry on the continent. Germany is considering a draft hydrogen strategy.
It should be noted that right now, at this moment, conventional energy providers in the EU and beyond are still doing fine financially -- the EU has been missing energy efficiency targets recently, and big-time manufacturers and energy providers are still flourishing.
But the landscape is changing. Younger generations are more drastically aware of client issues, and may push out businesses (via not using them) that don’t have a more eco-friendly energy plan. We are already seeing the adoption of alternative energy sources cut into the market share of existing energy providers.
Everything is changing.
And when everything changes, what do you do?
You need to innovate to stay ahead of the fact that everything is changing.
That comes through technology.
But, as you saw with our customer that we mentioned above, businesses are complicated. There are multiple projects and things move and shift. Deadlines can be missed if you don’t have the right team focused on your future-state projects.
That’s why you need to outsource some of the software work, data work, machine learning work, algorithm work, etc.
Oh, and PS: the Internet of Things actually might be very climate-friendly, so it’s increasingly a tech to embrace now. Insights from data + good branding! What’s not to love?
Where do you start?
We can help there! Companies have some concerns about outsourcing their software development, typically: the quality of the team they are working with, how a remote team blends with their team, the expertise of the outsourced team in different coding languages, and more.
Here is a checklist to understand what you need from an outsourced software development team to get your biggest potential ROI internally: