I recently attended IDC Energy Insights Predictions 2012: Utilities conference call today. I look forward to the IDC Insights series of conference calls every year as it helps me understand the critical issues and trends that impact Information Technology decisions within a particular industry.
In this case, the predictions were focused on the Utilities industry with an emphasis on North American issues. There are other calls coming up that focus on Europe and Asia.
IDC Energy Insights says in 2012, the industry is entering a ‘post stimulus’ period. While funding has dried up, there are areas where investment spending is growing, such as Solar PV installations. Other investment areas include Smart Grid, Smart Buildings, Electric Vehicles, and Energy Storage.
The 2012 predictions list below was sourced from the conference call slides.
Smart Meters.“Smart meters will peak in 2012, propelling demand response, but spending tempered for now”.
Smart Grids.“Distribution automation will lead smart grid control investments with 13% CAGR”
Smart Buildings.“Smart building technology investments will gain more traction with utilities”
Electric Vehicles.“120,000 plug-in electric vehicles will be sold in North America in 2012”
Lithium Batteries.“Lithium-Ion large format batteries will reach $600 per kWh by the end of the year”
Solar PV Installations.“Despite the 1603 Treasury Grant expiring in 2011, PV installations will grow by >25% in 2012”
Commercial PV.“>60 MW of commercial PV installations will incorporate micro-inverters or DC optimizers in 2012”
Security & Risk.“Security and risk will continue to grab decision maker’s attention, leading to increased budgets”
Big Data Analytics.“Utilities will invest in analytics in anticipation of big data”
IT Spending.“IT spending by North American utilities will increase by 4.5% % over the next four years”
IBM has relaunched it's Smarter City initiative and the website portal is something you should visit to experience. It is truly an immersive, interactive experience designed to show how cities all over the world are using advanced technology to help address some of the biggest problems facing our planet.
It is a fact…our cities are getting larger and larger. With that growth comes significant challenges for city leaders. Increasingly, city operations are being digitized, creating brand new data points. With the greater digitization of its core systems and the use of advanced analytic capabilities, cities can enhance decision-making and improve urban planning.
The Smarter City portal allows you to explore and experience how Smarter Technology can have an impact on making a city more sustainable, more intelligent, and simply better places to live and work. At the portal, you have options to learn more about how technology can impact all areas of a Smarter City, including Transportation (all forms of transportation), Public Safety, Communications, Energy & Utilities, Healthcare, Social Services, Education, Retail, Economic Development and other critical operations that make up a large urban city today.
Successful business leaders do a good job of understanding and preparing for the potential futures. They take time to figure out what the potential disruptive trends are today…and what trends will cause disruption in the future. They understand not only those disruptive trends that will impact their business, but those that will disrupt their customers businesses as well.
Gartner regularly holds a webinar about every 2-3 months entitled “Top Technology Trends You Can’t Afford To Ignore”. During these hour long webinars, Gartner presents it’s most current list of the top ten technologies. The list changes from year to year ever so slightly, so when Gartner held one of these webinars last month, I attended.
To make this top ten technology trend list, Gartner says the technology has to be disruptive in nature. Gartner defines a disruptive technology as one which drives major change in business processes or revenue streams, consumer behavior or spending, or IT industry dynamics. These trends have the potential to significantly alter the competitive environment in an industry.
During the webinar I attended, Raymond Paquet, Managing Vice President at Gartner, 1) defined the trend, 2) described the impact the technology has on business and IT, and 2) provided recommendations on how leaders should begin using the technology.
Here’s the list of Top Technology Trends You Can’t Ignore from the recent Gartner webinar of the same name.
Virtualization – This trend, which used to be focused just on servers, is maturing across all elements of an information technology infrastructure.
Data Deluge – The explosion of unstructured data is causing the emergence of a whole set of new emerging technologies designed to manage all data inputs and make sense out of the chaos.
Energy and Green IT – There’s an increasing awareness on energy efficiency measurements.
Complex Resource Tracking – Monitoring energy consumption so that you can dynamically move workloads to save energy.
Consumerization and Social Software – Gartner says this trend is impacting business in a great way and business leaders need to incorporate social computing across their business.
Unified Communications – Tightly integrating all forms of communications into all business applications and organizational processes.
Mobile and Wireless – The explosion of mobile smart devices is leading to an explosion of mobile applications, causing a whole new set of requirements on the infrastructure.
System Density – Blades are evolving into componentized, data-center-in-a-chassis solutions and therefore the trend is towards high density application of blades resulting in maximum use of floor space.
Mashups and Portals – Lots of creativity going on here with focus being placed on both visualization integration and content integration into a personalized, customized portal.
Cloud Computing – Gartner says cloud technology is an important one for businesses to implement. Private clouds will dominate and will allow businesses to improve agility. Leaders should ignore the hype and focus on results.
McKinsey has always been an interesting source for business trends for me and so I was interested to take a look at their latest list. And recently the firm has been increasing its research and content on IT and technology related to solving business issues, so I was interested in reading it’s latest list of business trends.
I’ve summarized the list below (based on my own understanding of the stated trends) and have provided my own perspectives.
Distributed Cocreation move Mainstream: Web 2.0 has evolved into a Social Media and Social Networking trend and there are significant implications for businesses and how they maintain relationships with all stakeholders.
Making the Network Organization: The Networked Organization is not a new concept, but with the advent of Social Networking, it’s importance is magnified. All the social tools, platforms, and capabilities now play an important role in “Making the Network Organization”.
Collaboration at Scale – This trend is related to the fact that technology alone does not drive greater collaboration. There needs to be a better understanding of how collaboration is enabled, how knowledge is obtained as a result, and how to manage that knowledge once obtained.
The Growing “Internet of Things”: We are in a new phase in the evolution of IT systems where there are billions of devices and everyday objects will become interconnected and networked via the Internet. More on this trend here The Internet of Things.
Experimentation and Big Data: All those devices that will be connected and networked (via #4 above) will lead to mountains of data. Businesses will need advanced analytic capabilities in order to make sense of all the data. Successful businesses will use that capability in order to experiment and drive innovation across enterprise processes.
Wiring for a Sustainable World: Business leaders need to figure out how to use technology for sustainable growth. IT can be a means to increase sustainability through things like smart grids, smarter buildings, smarter transportation, etc.
Imagining Anything as a Service: Cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS) are undeniable trends in IT today and will drive new business models we have not even thought of today.
The Age of the Multisided Business Model: This trend is directly related to trends 2 and 3 above. As networked collaboration evolves, companies will increasingly find that they are playing multiple roles in multiple networks.
Innovation at the Bottom of the Pyramid: As emerging markets are the growth engine of the global economy, we should expect innovation to come from those markets. Successful business leaders will incubate and nurture efforts to look for growth outside of their home markets and customer segments.
Producing Public Good on the Grid: Technology has an important part to play in creating and providing public goods and making this world a better, safer, and more productive place. For examples of how technology can enable these benefits, see IBM’s Smarter Cities initiatives.
To read the complete McKinsey article and/or check out a wealth of other resources, please click here to sign up for a free online subscription to The McKinsey Quarterly.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Technology Review (http://www.technologyreview.com/) has released its annual report on 10 Emerging Technologies of 2010. I always look forward to this annual article for it consistently reports on the interesting work going on in labs and academic institutions. The articles also provide a human element, telling us about the person behind the work, the problems they are trying to solve, and how they have worked hard to innovate in the field they are researching.
The list of 10 emerging technologies MIT presents in this article have the potential to create fundamental shifts in areas from energy to healthcare, computing to communications. Any one of them have the potential to significantly impact our lives.
Some of the listed technologies could reach the market within the year, others may take years, but all are expected to have a huge impact in the years ahead. Regardless of when they do hit the market, all of them are interesting to read and think about.
Here the list along with my summary and some links for more information.
Real-Time Search: Real-time search tools will help us filter out all the social and advertising noise and deliver to us the information we need when we need it. The article provides us insights into the work of Amit Singhal of Google, who is trying to develop up-to-the-second search results from social networks that offer the same relevance and quality we’ve come to expect from traditional Web searches. Check out Singhal’s page at http://singhal.info/
Mobile 3-D: Get ready for Mobile 3-D apps. The same buzz we are hearing today about how cool 3D movies and TVs are will make its way to smart phones. Researcher Julien Flack of Dynamic Digital Depth is working hard on developing technology that can convert existing 2-D content to 3-D on the fly.
Engineered Stem Cells: There’s more and more research going on these days into stem cells and scientists are figuring out ways of engineering stem cells. James Thomson of Cellular Dynamics and the University of Wisconsin is developing an innovative way to engineer stem cells in a test tube. His breakthroughs have the potential to revolutionize the way we study/treat diseases and develop beneficial drugs.
Solar Fuel: Scientists are working hard at developing alternative and renewable fuels. Biofuels is one alternative source of energy that may eventually compete with fossil fuels MIT provides us with insights into the biofuel research of Noubar Afeyan of Joule Biotechnologies. Afeyan and his team at Joule have successfully created genetically engineered micro-organisms that can turn sunlight into ethanol or diesel.
Light-Trapping Photovoltaics: Kylie Catchpole of the Australian National University is experimenting with ways to improve the overall potential of solar power as an alternative energy source. Catchpole has figured out how to use nanoparticles in a way to boost the efficiency of solar cells — an advance that could help make solar power more competitive with fossil fuels.
Social TV: It’s only a matter of time before we are able to combine, in real-time, our love for social networking with our love for our favorite TV shows. MIT’s Marie-José Montpetit is working on research related to embedding social networking activities into our TV watching experience.
Implantable Electronics: Future generations will benefit from nano-size drugs and electronic devices that can be implanted in our bodies and then dissolve after their job/task has been completed. Fiorenzo Omenetto from Tuft University has been researching implantable electronic devices that can be used to deliver drugs, stimulate nerves, monitor biomarkers, and more.
Dual-Action Antibodies: Reducing the number of drugs patients take can have beneficial impact on quality of life. Genentech’s Germaine Fuh is working on research related to using dual-action antibodies in drugs that can give patients two drugs for the price of one.
Cloud Programming: It’s safe to say that Joseph Hellerstein’s mind has been in the clouds lately. Hellerstein, of the University of California, Berkeley, has been working to create Cloud programming languages that help developers build better cloud applications. This work could lead to a new wave of Internet-enabled applications, including social media analysis, enterprise computing, or sensor networks monitoring for earthquake warning signs.
In a world where increased focus is on reducing CO2 emissions, governments and energy & utility companies are looking for ways to modernize and transform their utility infrastructure in order to improve energy efficiency and reliability.
For developed economies, the traditional way power has been generated is based on a central generation model with one-way power and information flow from large, often distant generating stations, via transmission and distribution lines to end consumers. Most of these generation systems contain an aging infrastructure with some equipment dating back 60 years. This traditional infrastructure lacks sufficient technology and communications at the distribution and end-use level that would enable grid automation & monitoring capabilities. The model has been a push model, meaning that there is little to no automated information coming back to the central sites from those that use the power. So if the user suddenly has no power, the only way the utility company knows about it is if they get a call from the users. Furthermore, the user has very little information available to help them understand how much power they are using, when they are using it, and what they are using it for.
The Smart Grid (also called Intelligent Utility Network) technology is an important emerging trend within the Energy and Utility Industry. As consumers, we are increasingly aware that the way we consume and save energy can be improved. Within the energy and utility industry, energy efficiency is also on the minds of the industry leaders. And our governments are all interested in finding new sources of energy. By embedding technology into the electrical distribution network, a Smart Grid can transform the way power is distributed and used. Intelligence throughout the grid can dramatically reduce outages and faults, improve responsiveness, handle current and future demand, increase efficiency and manage costs.
The following video from IEEE will provide some additional introduction into the concept of the Smart Grid.
Produced by IEEE and ScienCentral, Inc.
A Smart Grid can present many opportunities for consumers, businesses, and utilities to benefit from the efficient distribution of energy and availability of intelligent equipment and devices. For governments, it offers significant opportunities to wisely manage a country’s fuel resources by potentially reducing the need for additional generation sources, better integrating renewable energy sources into the grid’s operations, reducing outages and cascading problems, and enabling users of power to better manage their energy consumption.
The Smart Grid technology will enable energy customers to
manage electricity consumption to meet specific household/business goals such as cost, availability, and environmental impact
seek energy providers, information, and technologies that help them meet their goals
do business with utility companies who communicate a set of energy-related values consistent with their own
seek convenient and more personalized ways to interact with their utility to negotiate customized solutions to allow them to meet their needs
act on their own wants and needs where regulatory representation does not provide results satisfying these specific needs, primarily through execution of alternative solutions (e.g., self-generation)
Enabling active participation by consumers in demand response
Operating resiliently against physical and cyber attack
Providing power quality for 21st century needs
Accommodating all generation and storage options
Enabling new products, services, and markets
Optimizing assets and operating efficiently
The consumer of power from a future Smart Grid will see many differences as a result of adding intelligence into the network. Some examples are:
Smart electricity meters, water meters, and gas meters that collect real-time data on utility usage.
Distributed generation, such as solar panels and other micro generation. These new generators could be located at the home, in the neighborhood, or in the local community.
Dedicated energy display units and smart thermostats that provide the user with feedback on energy usage in real-time.
Smart appliances with connectivity to the intelligent utility network via the in home meters and display units.
Plug-in vehicles as a both source and consumer of energy. The vehicles, when plugged in would provide information on energy usage.
Linked connection to the in-home network and home PCs for further analysis of all the information collected.
The Smart Grid transformation is much more than installation of new technology in a piece-part fashion. The call for the transformation to a Smart Grid impacts every part of the utility infrastructure including generation, distribution, and usage. It will be a disruptive change, but a change that will provide huge rewards for the future. For the utility industry itself, changes needs to happen in four key areas:
Strategy. We need a fundamental rethink of business strategy and industry business models across the board.
Collaboration. Utility providers will need to develop a much closer collaboration with customers, regulators, financers, researchers, technology and service vendors, and other stakeholders than ever before.
People. The change will be very disruptive to utility companies. They will need a renewed focus on staff, their roles, competencies, compensation, performance and structure.
Process. Utility providers will need to re-architect business processes and applications.
There is much work to be done to transform old utility infrastructures to a Smart Grid system. The transformation will not happen overnight, but could happen over a series of decades. When complete, countries that transform their utilities infrastructure to an Intelligent Utility Network will have a modern network of sensor-based interactive technologies that will give utilities and consumers unprecedented control over managing energy use, improving energy grid operations, and significantly reducing energy costs.
There is a ton of information available on Smart Grids. Here are a few example resources for you to explore….
Scientific American published an article back in December titled “World Changing Ideas” that caught my eye. The article provides a laundry list of ideas that Scientific American says have the potential to improve our lives and our planet. The magazine has been running similar articles on an annual basis for a number of years.
The December article covers ideas in five general categories (Energy,Transportation, Environment, Electronics, and Health) that highlight the power of science and technology to improve the world.
Here’s a summary of some of the 20 ideas from this article
Pay for solar panels on your house like you pay for a house mortgage.
Biofuels from genetically engineered plants.
Innovations in Nuclear Power production that can stem nuclear proliferation
Smart meters in the home
Wind Power harvested from a fleet of high-flying giant kites or windmills
Plug-in hybrid trucks for short-haul cargo trips
Subway-like bus lines
Someday the oceans might be regulated by a worldwide marine planning and zoning committee
Harvesting energy trapped in garbage via a technology called plasma gasification
Cement that naturally absorbs carbon dioxide as it hardens
Introducing new honeybee colonies to our farms
Developing crops that can handle saltwater
HP’s Central Nervous System for the Earth (CeNSE) project
Smartphones that can act as real-time language translators
Advances in Personal Robotics
Biomarkers can help understand the causes of complex diseases
Satellites can help track and predict the spread of diseases
Better and cheaper ways to help blood clot quicker
Performing blood tests in real time by putting a drop of blood on a computer chip
Innovations in dental care.
The 20 ideas above are all interesting and innovative trends in science and technology. Some I would say are more ‘world changing’ than other ideas. And I am sure we could all come up with another 20 trends / ideas in science that are not listed above.
There’s much more detail in the article. Scientific American articles are available to subscribers only, but at the time of the writing of this post, I found the article at Scribd here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/23475128/20-World-Changing-Ideas. Also…you can listen to a podcast where Scientific American magazine Editor in Chief Mariette DiChristina and editor Michael Moyer talk about the "World Changing Ideas" feature ( Download this podcast ).
IDC Energy Insights held its webinar “Top Ten Predictions for the North American Utilities Industry” today. Rick Nicholson, Vice President of Research at IDC led the call.
During the call the analysts reviewed the important driving forces impacting impacting technology investment within the Utilities Industry for 2010. Driving forces include energy efficiency and demand response programs, smart metering and the smart grid, renewable and distributed energy and other relevant technologies.
IDC mentioned that energy usage is expected to rebound in 2010 after a down year in 2009 which had an impact on industry-wide revenues. Also, investments in cleantech is expected to rebound as access to credit improves in 2010. A big factor in that will be the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Here’s my summary of the top ten predictions reviewed on the conference call:
Energy Efficiency and Demand Response: will continue to be the “first fuel” choice for electric utilities
Renewable Energy: Renewable capacity additions will exceed natural gas plant additions
Energy Storage: Utility-scale stationary energy storage will have its coming out party
Intelligent Grid: North American intelligent grid ICT spending reaches $18 billion by 2013
Electric Vehicles: First wave of electric vehicles and accompanying charging infrastructure will emerge
Energy Commodity Trading: Trading of energy commodities requiring IT support will recover and grow
Sustainability: Traditional generators will focus on managing their portfolio for sustainability
Water Management: Scarcity of clean water and availability of new technology will awaken the sleeping water market
Smart Cities: Smart cities will emerge as proving grounds for the intelligent economy
IT Spending: U.S. utility industry IT spending growth will accelerate dramatically
I remember back in the 90’s this industry was one of the lackluster (perhaps boring?) industries to be involved with from a technology perspective. Nothing was really happening back then. Today it is 180 degrees opposite. There is so much going on right now to bring technology to this industry. This is one exciting industry today….and I expect it will be that way for another decade or two.
For more information, IDC Insights has a bunch of resources for you.
The world is experiencing unprecedented urbanization. Last year marked the first time in history that the majority of the world’s population was residing in cities. This trend is not stopping and will have huge implications for our large urban environments we call home. So what can be done to make our cities economically, socially and technologically healthy–and keep them that way?
IBM recently unveiled a list of 5 innovations that will have the potential to change how people live, work and play in cities around the globe over the next five years. The following text provides a summary and there is a 3 minute video embedded below…
IBM’s Next 5 in 5…
1) Cities will have healthier immune systems: Because of population densities, cities will remain hotbeds of communicable diseases. By standardizing methods for sharing health information and analyzing disease outbreaks, public health officials will know precisely when, where and how diseases are spreading.
2) City buildings will sense and respond like living organisms: The technology that manages building facilities "will operate like a living organism that can sense and respond quickly." Thousands of sensors inside buildings will monitor everything from motion and temperature to humidity, occupancy and light. These smart buildings will enable repairs to be made before something breaks, will help emergency units respond quickly, and will let people and companies monitor their energy consumption and carbon emission in real-time.
3) Cars and city buses will run on empty: IBM predicts that improved battery technology will power the next generation of eco-friendly vehicles. It says the new batteries won’t need to be recharged for days or months at a time (depending on how often the vehicles are driven) and will allow trips of 300 to 500 miles on a single charge. Also smart grids in cities will allow vehicles to be charged in public places using renewable energy, such as wind power, for charging so they no longer rely on coal-powered plants.
4) Smarter systems will quench cities' thirst for water and save energy: To deal with the estimate that demand for water is expected to increase sixfold in the next 50 years cities will install smarter water systems to reduce water waste by up to 50 percent. Smart sewer systems will also be installed that not only prevent run-off pollution in rivers and lakes, but purify water to make it drinkable. Plus, interactive meters and sensors will provide people with real time, accurate information about their water consumption.
5) Cities will respond to a crisis: Even before receiving an emergency phone call. In support of the news: IBM is helping law enforcement agencies analyze information so they can anticipate crime and be ready to respond when it happens. Also the New York Fire Department has selected IBM to build a state-of-the-art system for collecting and sharing data in real-time and the company is also designing smart levee systems to prevent cities from devastating floods.
A common denominator in all five of these innovations is a sophisticated data analytics capability that can take volumes of data, perform modeling and simulation on that data, and turn it into actionable insights for decision makers. Five years could be an optimistic time frame for a few of these, but in this case, I think a little optimism helps to push the envelope on research and development of the innovations.
IDC’s System Infrastructure analyst team held its annual predictions call for System Infrastructure 2010 today. During the call, I heard IDC’s Top 10 predictions for the worldwide system infrastructure software market (system software, virtualization, and system management software ) in 2010.
Here’s my summary of the top ten predictions reviewed on the call:
Cloud Computing: IDC says that the hype around Cloud Computing will calm down as management tools start maturing
ROI Drives Decisions: In 2010, short-term ROI will continue to make or break system infrastructure software purchasing and investment decisions.
Windows 7 Is A Key Transition Point: IDC expects that the transition to Windows 7 will mark a sobering transition point where traditional PCs begin to loose the position of the primary access device.
Say Goodbye To Unix: Unix will become a permanent casualty of the economic downturn of 2009
Client Virtualization: IDC says that the client virtualization trend will have a breakout year, thanks to Microsoft
Converged Infrastructure Platforms: IDC says that the hypervisor wars will end in 2010 and converged (cloud) infrastructure platforms will take off
End-to-End Application Performance and Visibility: IDC expects that these objectives will become a major priority across public and private infrastructure and services
License Management: IDC says that in 2010 vendors will exploit weak software license management environments
Availability Software: Will increasingly adapt to a virtualized x86 server world
Sustainability and Power Management: Will become critical green IT differentiators across the system infrastructure software landscape
So there is a ton of activity going on in the software infrastructure marketplace. Cloud and Virtualization are kind of the megatrends.
I joined IBM back in the days when the Operating System was a major control point. All vendors had a closed and proprietary OS. Those days are gone. Competitive differentiation in the future will be based more on the flexibility and functionality of the administrative management capabilities, how well the infrastructure platforms deliver operational savings and operational flexibility, and, I believe, how well these platforms enable collaboration.
Here’s a perspective of of top 10 business technology trends from ‘down under’. I found this article written by Simon Sharwood at the online version of the Sydney Morning Herald. Here’s a quick summary.
Cloud computing. The article says to watch out for three types of cloud services 1) software-as-a-service, 2) infrastructure as a service, and 3) internal clouds.
Four big Microsoft upgrades. 1) Office 2010, 2) SharePoint 2010, 3) Exchange 2010, 4) Windows 7
Virtualization. This trend continues to evolve at an impressive pace.
Biometric authentication. This technology is ready for wider deployment in 2010.
Next-generation firewalls. Firewalls can now take over some of the functions of other security appliances.
Employee-owned IT. Employees bringing their own computers to work.
Loyalty schemes. This trend going mainstream in 2010.
Solid state disks. These disks are smaller, faster, cooler and use less power than conventional disks.
Smart grids. Allows power companies to predict demand more precisely, reducing waste.
Hybrid servers. Trend towards all-in-ones that pack a server, storage and other goodies needed to run business applications into a single box