Global energy and utilities sector is making increasing use of intelligent automation, including a significant rise in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) since 2017, but executives are underestimating its full potential with large scale projects taking a back seat, according to a new study by Capgemini Research Institute.
The study, which surveyed 529 leaders at manager level in the energy and utility space, found that nearly half the respondents have under-estimated benefits they derived from their intelligent automation initiatives, while only 18% of organizations are deploying quick-win use cases, and just 15% of those surveyed said their company is deploying multiple intelligent automation use cases at scale.
The report finds that the sector is already seeing significant value from automation, in terms of boosting operations, topline growth and engaging customers, compared to other industries. A consistently higher percentage of executives in the energy and utilities sector said have achieved benefits from their intelligent automation initiatives.
About 40% of executives said they had seen an increase in operations quality, 45% have seen increase in inbound customer leads, 81% reported improved customer experience through faster responses, 78% saw a reduction in the number of processes relating to queries and purchases and 32% said they witnessed increase in staff productivity.
While overall adoption of AI has matured in the sector, with 52% of respondents having deployed a number of use cases, only a small 15% of executives said their company was deploying multiple intelligent automation use cases at scale.
Business-related challenges were cited by respondents as barriers to scaling including a lack of co-ordination across different business units, lack of leadership commitment and an organizational reticence to experimenting with technology that could replace human workers.
Many executives also pointed to a shortage in skills as a challenge. A majority cited lack of talent in automation technologies, with 47% identifying limited efforts to reskill employees, 42% citing difficulty in retaining employees with right skills and 41% citing employee resistance to learning new skills.
Philippe Vié, global head of energy & utilities at Capgemini, said, “The energy and utilities sector is already seeing the difference that intelligent automation can make in improving business efficiency, customer satisfaction, and revenue. Executives are quite rightly making the deployment of automation one of their top priorities.
“Now the focus must shift to the factors that will enable the scaling of multiple use cases including an investment in specialist talent, more integrated co-ordination between business units, and a stronger commitment from leadership. Having tasted the benefits of automation, energy and utility companies must now redouble their investment to reap the full rewards.”
The Capgemini Research Institute conducted a primary survey of 529 business leaders at the manager lever or above in energy and utility organizations experimenting with or implementing automation. Respondents were based in seven countries – the United States, Germany, India, United Kingdom, France, Netherlands and Sweden – and across five sub-sectors: electricity utilities, oil and gas, energy services, water utilities, and electricity and gas utilities.
Capgemini is a consulting, technology services and digital transformation company. It is a multicultural company of over 200,000 team members in more than 40 countries. The Group reported 2018 global revenues of EUR 13.2 billion. Capgemini Research Institute is Capgemini’s in-house research centre. The Institute publishes research on the impact of digital technologies on large traditional businesses.