Western European Utilities go Back to Basics With Above-Average Priority of Investments for Asset Centric Solutions, Says IDC Energy Insights 2011 Survey

Milan, December 9, 2011 – IDC Energy Insights' latest annual survey of Western European utilities reveals the top 3 line-of-business solutions in which utilities are planning to invest in the next 12 months. The survey found that 55% of respondents plan to invest in customer care solutions, followed by 54% in asset management, and over 50% in network automation and control solutions.

The survey demonstrates that utilities have done a good job of optimizing their assets by doing more with less. Nonetheless, they should think beyond short-term cost cutting and look for longer-term opportunities to make technology investments that support business strategies and goals, chiefly in areas including energy efficiency and demand response, intelligent grid, renewable energy, and carbon management. Simultaneously, cloud and managed services offerings need to be considered as options to reduce capex and/or opex.

According to IDC Energy Insights, utilities CIOs need to elaborate a highly selective IT strategy grounded on a deep understanding of future needs and the existing IT landscape to set IT on the right course for the immediate and long-term future. To do this, they must closely collaborate with LOB executives and jointly develop clear business cases to evaluate the total cost of ownership of different solutions. Moreover, participation in business case discussions and intelligent grid budget allocations should be done early. CIOs will need to work closely with business unit engineers to integrate data from operational technology such as SCADA and EMS with other IT applications.

The survey highlights the following key trends in the adoption of IT solutions by Western European utilities:

Security and storage software are currently considered to be the enterprise solutions with the widest span of adoption among Western European utility firms, at 100% and 77.2%, respectively.

Security solutions will continue to be a top investment priority for Western European utilities' CIOs over the next 12 months.

Business intelligence and analytics and content management solutions are currently the solutions least implemented by Western European utilities, and no significant changes are expected over the next 12 months, even though there is rising awareness and attention towards "Big Data" and the benefits of business analytics in general.

Utilities demonstrate a high level of adoption of LOB solutions. The top 3 LOB solutions to be invested in over the next 12 months are customer care, asset management, and network automation and control.

Plant operations and grid maintenance solutions are the line-of-business solutions expected to be most invested in as a new solution (either as a replacement or first-time implementation) over the next 12 months by the Western European utilities industry, at 21.6% and 20.6%, respectively.

IDC Energy Insights believes that utilities' business unit managers require their ICT departments to contribute to and enable company operational excellence to help them become more effective in reducing operating costs. Furthermore, ICT support has to be successful in business evolution, which is further dictated by international energy policies. These energy policies seek increased innovations, requiring ICT to support, for instance, development of intelligent grid initiatives, smart metering, and so on.

"ICT is penetrating utilities' business activity more profoundly and will play a pivotal role in enabling the implementation of next-generation utilities," said Gaia Gallotti, senior research analyst, IDC Energy Insights. "In the next 12 months, the top 3 line-of-business solutions to be invested in are customer care, asset management, and network automation and control. But in order to prepare better for future business and industry evolution, CIOs should also consider having a critical and profound revision of their enterprise information architecture."

The study, CIOs' Priorities: IT Solutions — Western European Utilities Survey 2011 (IDC Energy Insights #EIOS07T, November 2011), analyzes the results of the annual IDC Energy Insights Survey covering France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the U.K. The purpose of this report is to understand current adoption, priorities, and plans to invest in IT solutions (both enterprise management and line-of-business solutions). This is the third report of a series of four covering the survey carried out on utilities. The first report describes survey methodology, while the second analyzes ICT budget spending distribution and patterns in evolution, channel selection, and satisfaction with primary IT suppliers among utility enterprises in Western Europe. The fourth will analyze trends in new technologies and mobility.

For more information or to arrange a one-on-one briefing with Roberta Bigliani or Gaia Gallotti, please contact Kanupriya at kanupriya@idc.com/+44 (0) 20898 77 111.