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Capgemini, a provider of consulting, technology and outsourcing services, has released a study that finds more North American utilities need to make customer satisfaction and asset optimization priorities to enhance their digital competency.

The Digital Utility Study was sponsored by Capgemini and produced by IDC Energy Insights. IDC conducted in-depth interviews with senior executives from IT, distribution and customer service specialties at North American utilities to understand the most pressing business and IT investments their leadership teams focused on to generate a digital advantage.

According to the study, executives agree that becoming more digitally savvy to remain competitive will hinge on utilities' ability to improve customer satisfaction and asset optimization. They believe that for utilities to be successful and improve these areas of business, a proper assessment of current analytics capabilities and data management practices is vital. In addition, more than other new technologies, analytics will have the most impact and influence on their operational and business models over the next five years, the study finds.

Capgemini reports that as more data is generated from technology deployed on the grid and customer interactions, utilities believe analytics will provide the information and insight necessary to sustain their reliability and improve operational efficiency.

According to the study, if utilities aim to accelerate their digital transformation, there are three areas they need to consider pursuing:

1. Develop a long-term advanced analytics strategy. Utilities will be well served by developing a strategy that recognizes where analytics can provide the most business value and then leverage the appropriate tools and templates to recognize value.

2. Evaluate customer-engagement methods to improve satisfaction levels. Enabling access to their social media channels via mobile devices will become an important bi-directional way for utilities to educate, motivate and interact with their customers, especially during outages.

3. Optimize the distribution grid. Utilities must evaluate their current distribution management systems for function and integration with other operational systems to streamline data-sharing. In addition, the report says utilities should develop a framework to evaluate and assess any extensions to their systems to support advanced analytics strategies and tools.

"Utilities understand that their success increasingly depends on how well they are prepared for a more digitalized world," says Jill Feblowitz, vice president of IDC Energy Insights. "Utilities are enthusiastic about giving their employees the tools that they need to make better decisions. They are just starting to realize that business processes will need to be adjusted to accommodate this new reality."

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