The utilities sector is being buffeted by profound, unprecedented change. And that disruption is being experienced unevenly. Certain sub-sectors and jurisdictions are seeing change come more rapidly than others, either from a steep reduction in native supply, accelerating rates of new source connections, and/or the mainstreaming of downstream renewables. For all players, though, customer engagement is at an all-time high. And what are those customers clamoring for, exactly: choice and control, “exceptional, reliable, and resilient service,” according to a senior researcher in energy and public utility regulation.i It turns out that service expectations are being cultivated in more traditionally customer-centric industries, then exported into the utilities industry, where they’re having a deep impact on incumbents and (relative) newcomers alike. Now, utilities must meet heightened customer expectations in order to ensure a positive service experience, particularly for hyper-engaged customers. That’s easier said than done. As utilities well know, serving customers with disparate needs throughout the complex customer journey (i.e. up to and including service outages) is difficult. Nor does the aging of infrastructure and other, major physical assets, which only increases the risk of service disruptions and safety incidents, make the task of meeting demands for high-quality service any easier.ii In fact, it makes it near impossible. That’s why for most utilities, effective asset management has become the sole means of ensuring the reliability, quality, and maintenance of assets, while complying with stringent regulatory requirements and cutting unacceptably high operational costs. But what does effective asset management look like for today’s utilities?
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