Intelligent systems research

ENERGY AND UTILITIES

The right infrastructure and foundational investments for the energy industry’s intelligent systems needs could shift the way the industry functions and delivers.

Intelligent systems success in the energy and utilities sector will drive a clean, affordable, reliable, and data-driven new reality. Our research found six specific characteristics of that success that will change the dynamics for design.

Intelligent systems research

ENERGY AND UTILITIES

The right infrastructure and foundational investments for the energy industry’s intelligent systems needs could shift the way the industry functions and delivers.

Intelligent systems success in the energy and utilities sector will drive a clean, affordable, reliable, and data-driven new reality. Our research found six specific characteristics of that success that will change the dynamics for design.

The Need to Act

In the energy sector, six of the 13 characteristics that will drive intelligent systems success need to be designed in place now, and the sequencing of these characteristics will matter. For six out of 10 energy companies, this is not yet happening. However, 41% of the sector’s leaders believe that intelligent systems can positively transform how carefully and efficiently we use environmental resources and that we can become more adaptive.

Need to Act

At least 59% of executive leaders in energy see the value of intelligent systems for their future success. However, for many the pathway to an intelligent systems future is not clear. Only 26% are already appreciating the upper tiers of intelligent systems ROI. Another 43% — more than in any other sector studied — are in a nascent state. This discrepancy shows that while the belief is there, belief is not enough to build success.

59% of executive leaders in energy see the value of intelligent systems for their future success

There is a significant shift in vision when energy companies consider what intelligent systems could deliver today versus five years from now. The current vision includes the ability to predict system failures and resolutions, the capacity to seamlessly link all systems between supplier and end customer, and the ability to make business decisions autonomous. The ambition for five years from now includes a much more aggressive focus on data-centric decision-making on the far edge of the cloud. However, beliefs about how to achieve success around this vision are not consistent.

16% of energy companies already see themselves as intelligent systems digital business companies. However, one in three are generating very low returns, and the leading perceived barrier for this sector is that they will remain in the stage of strategic discussions for the next three years. Yet 81% of leaders believe that embedded devices and applications will increasingly be used in innovative ways that are still undiscovered, in a dynamic sector rife with possibilities – like predictive power consumption models of small cities that can be delivered with machine learning algorithms some 36 hours ahead of actual consumption patterns.

16% of energy companies already see themselves as intelligent systems digital business companies

Intelligent systems success in energy and utilities sector will drive a clean, affordable, reliable, and data-driven new reality.

81% of energy leaders say that over 50% of their embedded products and services will be designed for use on the far edge.

The ability to compute on that far edge is the most important characteristic of intelligent systems success in the energy industry, according to the executives we interviewed – not the most necessary for success, but of foundational importance for the next three to five years. Other characteristics (such as being able to find and resolve stresses and failures, or being able to customize devices in the cloud) that are also foundational are not considered to deliver the same level of overall impact.

39% of these companies see themselves in a nascent intelligent systems state. This is higher than in any other sector measured. These self-described nascent companies need to examine the profiles of the committed and successful to understand how they sequence their specific intelligent systems characteristics.

81%

Proper investment is essential. These companies must make a core initial investment in customization in the cloud, performance on the edge, and prediction of stresses and failures, along with a real-time workflow environment allowing teams and business units to bring it all together on the far edge. Of all the intelligent system characteristics that will drive impact, 63% will need to be built within the next three years. The longer-term nice-to-haves will contribute less than 20% toward the success of intelligent systems in the energy sector.

Two of the top three intelligent system characteristics for success will only be realized within the five-year horizon, according to energy sector executive leadership. These two are the ability to simulate and emulate in near real time and the ability to connect data from digital feedback loops into the developmental process for new products and services — illustrating the core value of data for this sector.

Mission-critical capabilities are the number-one driver of overall success for energy sector intelligent systems, according to 51% of leaders. They particularly singled out the need for protection against cyberattacks. This matters as much for those selling embedded products and services as for those using them.

What Really Matters to Executives Building Intelligent Systems?

While there are 13 key characteristics of intelligent systems, not all characteristics deliver the same positive impact. Your peers across all sectors told us the far edge is vital for success, especially when 65%+ rely on embedded devices for business success.

These stacks represent the magnitude of impact each intelligent system characteristic has on such systems. The larger the block, the greater the impact. You can view this data for companies grouped by momentum and success, or by specific industry.

EXPLORE MAGNITUDE STACKS

Forbes logo

Source: Characteristics of an Intelligent Systems Future, Forbes, 2021

Total Committed and performing Nascent & successful Experimenting & Low Yield Experimenting & delivering Committed & Suboptimal Nascent & Unsure
Industrial Manufacturing Aerospace and defense Automotive Energy Medical Telecom

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Three Facts About Intelligent Systems in the Energy and Utility Industries

55%

55% of all energy companies are experimenting with intelligent systems ideas and technologies. However, only 40% of these are getting strong measurable returns.

32%

32% of executive leaders in energy see technology leading their strategy decisions, while 11% see themselves as visionary in the industry.

37%

37% of energy company executive leaders believe they are ahead of their peers in being able to highly connect in real time with customers.

Characteristics of Intelligent Systems Success in the Energy and Utility Industries

Knowing when to invest in each characteristic requires a blueprint for building critical infrastructure, delivering core foundational needs, and much more.

Characteristics of Success in the Energy and Utility Industries
Report

Start Plotting Your Intelligent Systems Journey

Download “Plotting Your intelligent Systems Journey,” a free 30-page report developed in partnership by Wind River and Forbes.

Our research is based on more than 200 points of comparison across companies building and deploying intelligent systems.

>>  Download the report now

This report shows:

  • How your peers are thinking about the barriers to and drivers for adoption of intelligent systems
  • What factors would accelerate the adoption of intelligent systems in your sector
  • The relative importance of all intelligent systems characteristics, to help you prioritize your investments
  • How your peers see the roles and importance of 5G, AI, ML, and cybersecurity in their decision-making
  • The key components for the mission-critical success of intelligent systems
  • What the future of embedded devices and solutions looks like in an intelligent systems world
  • Where digital feedback loops are crucial for success
  • What the key metrics for success are
  • Where your peers see extensive value for intelligent systems in addressing wider societal issues