CIOs must Ensure Systems are Dynamic, Accessible and Continuous

By Zeeshan Sheikh, CIO, Entergy Corp.

Digital technologies are bringing dramatic changes to the utility business. Everything from customer expectations to how we operate the grid to how we communicate with employees is being transformed. For instance, the digital grid is starting to emerge in a big way.  New technologies will help utilities optimize and manage commercial operations as more and more variable devices such as solar photovoltaic systems, electric vehicles and, ultimately, storage devices are connected to the grid.   

Design for analytics is another important new trend.  The flow of data from our systems and new connected devices is increasing dramatically. Data and information management is a key enabler of advanced analytics, which utilities must master in order to deliver superior operational and financial performance.

Another transformation on the horizon for utilities is the emergence of crowdsourcing, which is a potentially valuable tool to address the aging workforce challenge. We are now in an era where businesses are no longer limited to just using their own employees. You can now source talent in the crowd in imaginative ways. The enabling technologies that brought us to this point – cloud, social, advances in the hardware space and collaboration technologies – will change the face of the workforce.

Being Balanced

As CIOs we face challenges and opportunities. Hence, we need to achieve a balance to ensure that we are delivering flawlessly while at the same time implementing new solutions and develop new capabilities for the future. The implications for the digital world are that you need to relentlessly think differently about how you architect your systems.

CIOs today have to decide what role they need their team to play in this emerging digital business. They must simultaneously reinforce their organization’s technology and cyber security architecture while equipping the business side with the knowledge, understanding and partnerships with IT needed to leverage growth. This is a new world for us and a great opportunity for those who can translate the digital future for the business.

Stirring Innovation in your Team

Innovation, which begins with an individual’s mindset and a supportive environment, is essential if we are to position the utility industry for long-term success. I have learned the key to innovation is bringing together team members with the right mix of characteristics such as adaptability, accountability and inclusiveness. I encourage my team to ask plenty of questions and share ideas and concepts with others. Moreover, I encourage them to strive for new ideas, new processes and approaches. I want them to really understand our business partners’ processes and work side by side with them to understand how technology is – or could be – used to improve business performance.  The combination of innovation and teamwork will help ensure companies like Entergy able to adapt and prosper in a quickly evolving industry.

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