Why Power And Utilities Companies Need Digital Prowess To Scale Business

The core roles of HR – recruitment and talent development-- will no longer be an enabling function, but the driver of business success and sustenance


Organizations across the world are undergoing a paradigm shift which is largely led by technology. Processes of key operations such as logistics, marketing, finance, and human resources are being honed to keep up with a disruptive business environment. While the enhancement of each of these operations is important for growth and development, sprucing human resources will increase its strategic value for the company and even the entire sector. With digital transformation becoming a critical and pressing business focus area, today, the core roles of HR – recruitment and talent development-- will no longer be an enabling function, but the driver of business success and sustenance.  

Home to a billion plus people and a massive youth cohort, India is a haven of human resources. “KPMG in India’s report- “The Future of HR in India in 2019” indicates that HR leaders in the country today, exhibit better acknowledgment and recognition of the need for change in HR vis-à-vis their global counterparts. Agreeing to align with changing times, 87 percent of HR leaders in India believe that there is a need to transform the workforce in order to help them keep pace with the digitalization.  

Many promising sectors in the country are working toward digital adoption in order to thrive in these disruptive times. Take the example of Power & Utilities (P&U). The government’s ‘Power for all’ plan along with an increased focus on renewable energy has reshaped the industry in many ways. Ambitious targets such as achieving a capacity of 175 GW of Renewable Energy (RE) by 2022 has also led to decentralization of supply as consumers have now become power suppliers. With India’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, many companies are also majorly focusing on decarbonization. 

Furthermore, the country is making concerted efforts to ensure uninterrupted and reliable energy supply to households across the nation. With the twin disruptions of RE and technology integrating to set off a chain reaction, threatening traditional business models as well as giving rise to new opportunities, the P&U industry is increasingly embracing ‘digital thinking’. As is evident in KPMG in India’s 2018 ENRich survey on digital trends with 12 P&U leaders in India, nearly two out of three organizations are looking at an end to end digital transformation. Majority of the companies surveyed have also placed high importance on the significance of having data-driven operations. 

Data is the key to gathering meaningful information for such a business narrative. Consequently, data management and protection becomes a tall task as secondary data is generally scattered and has to be collated and stored in a comprehensive manner. Cloud services are useful for gathering data from various industrial processes in the power supply chain; it can also prove to be an all-encompassing and secure platform to streamline this exercise.  As the power business depends on insights for improving operations and maintenance, predictive analytics and machine learning could prove to be useful to accelerate the process. The ENRich survey reveals that nearly 73 percent of companies in India envisages investment in IoT-based solutions, with almost half indicating a willingness to invest in AI and machine learning. Globally, while 63 percent of HR executives at P&U companies believe that AI and ML can drive significant value, only 41 percent of HR functions have begun to introduce AI. 

Considered as the key sector for generating employment in the country, those managing its human resources also have an important role to play. This is largely in terms of governance and skilling the workforce to prepare them for the use of advanced technologies. According to a KPMG International’s Future of HR Survey 2019 –Power and Utilities Sector Analysis, 44 per cent  of P&U HR executives globally feel that the digital labour governance is led by IT, while 38% believe that it is led by HR. Despite data’s remarkable ability to deliver new insights and enhanced decision-making, the critical focus area for HR leaders in India still vests with traditional processes. 

As per. “KPMG in India’s report- “The Future of HR in India in 2019”, 47 percent of them believe that talent management will be the primary HR initiative for them over the next one to two years. HR executives in the power domain must understand that while organizations are busy adapting to automation and digital platforms in their processes, the skills of the workforce also need to be at par with this transformation. With many of them moving toward advanced technologies such as AI and machine learning, upskilling becomes even more pertinent.  

Though the going is slow, findings of “KPMG in India’s report- “The Future of HR in India in 2019” report present a silver lining. 60 percent of HR executives feel 'very confident' about HR’s actual ability to transform and move them forward via key capabilities like analytics and AI. Moreover, with 80 percent of HR leaders expressing deep interest to invest in analytics and newer technology linked interventions over the coming next year or two serves as a promising sign. 

Change is inevitable and time is of the essence and this gulf between HR leaders pursuing transformation and those on the sidelines is real and significant, both globally and locally in India. For those in the energy sector, it is time to overcome barriers to digital transformation, as Power and utility companies need this prowess to scale business. There is an immediate need for organizations to regroup and acclimatize their work culture and people expectations to the pace of the digital world. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


Around The World