Why energy and utility companies are expanding digital product portfolios

January 10 2020

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In addition to improving customer and stakeholder experiences or increasing employee productivity, energy and utility companies are also expanding their product portfolios beyond their traditional offerings. 

Technological advancements are fueling competition and opening up new opportunities for revenue. IoT technologies and renewable energy sources are enabling the optimization of current business lines and the development of new ones. Moreover, the energy and utilities industries are continuously expanding into unconquered territory through M&A; with each new expansion comes a multitude of legacy systems and siloed data that must be integrated and unlocked to drive operational efficiency between all entities. 

Leadership recognizes the massive opportunity for growth as well as the need to remain competitive through technology. They view the expansion of their product and services portfolio as the answer to this fundamental shift. As a result, they are putting increasing pressure on IT to build out new revenue channels and accelerate R&D, as well as provide support after the acquisition of business units.  

Challenges and opportunities for IT in energy and utilities 

On top of maintaining current systems, IT is being tasked with building out new lines of business and supporting post-acquisition activity. Within the energy and utilities industries, projects can include new markets, services, and applications that span all three major value chain sectors. Specifically in the energy downstream sector, IT can develop mobile applications that deliver a seamless customer experience by locating nearby gas stations and allowing payments through the app. On the other hand, within the utilities downstream sector, new marketplaces can be established to enable consumers to buy and sell energy from their own distributed energy resources. For example, Strala, a mobile marketplace by BP using blockchain and IoT, allows consumers to buy and sell excess solar energy to other members of the community. Furthermore, within utilities, the development and installation of smart meters exposes a massive growth opportunity to develop new revenue channels.

In addition to new products and services, heavy merger and acquisition activity places an increasingly massive burden on IT to address the multiple redundancies of HR, ERP, and billing systems. IT projects play a critical role in the consolidation and rationalization of all these systems to cut costs, improve efficiency, and mitigate complications. With the right resources, IT can ensure a smooth and swift migration of employee, customer, and financial data between old and new systems. 

British Petroleum modernizes its business

BP is one of the largest energy companies in the world, producing 18.4M tonnes of oil per year and powering economic growth with 74,000 employees in over 70 countries. 

As the world demands more energy, it also demands that it be produced and delivered in new ways with fewer emissions. BP is embracing this dual challenge and making bold changes to modernize its business. 

The key to BP achieving these business goals is to unleash the potential of digital solutions, big data, and advanced technologies. The BP information technology and services (IT&S) team needed to evolve by:

  • Modernizing legacy systems to speed up access to applications and data, while also supporting the adoption of new technologies (e.g. mobile, cloud, blockchain, and IoT).
  • Shifting the role of IT from simply delivering technology solutions to enable the business to take advantage of digital technology.
  • Developing a Center for Enablement (C4E) to evangelize BP’s API strategy and drive adoption.

BP adopted an API strategy with MuleSoft to accelerate IT delivery. By unlocking key systems, applications, and data with APIs, central IT can empower the business to self-serve and develop their own technology solutions — speeding up project delivery and supercharging innovation.

“Our API strategy is right at the heart of our application ambition and technology transformation. We can now embed digital in everything that we do.”

– Diana Kennedy, VP, IT&S Strategy, Architecture and Planning, BP

BP established a C4E central incubation team to evangelize APIs the business can self-serve to deliver technology initiatives faster. Today, the C4E serves more than 20 product teams and over 100 APIs are available. 

BP delivered innovative products and services with Anypoint Platform™, including:

  • BPme: A mobile app that provides consumers with a frictionless fueling experience, enabling them to easily locate the nearest gas station, pay for fuel, earn rewards, and more. 
  • Air BP: A solution to speed up partner onboarding for Air BP, a program that supplies over 6.5B gallons of aviation fuel annually. 
  • Strala: A mobile marketplace using blockchain and the IoT to enable consumers to buy and sell solar energy. 
  • Operator Workbench: A tablet app where employees can easily document maintenance data, log hours, and more — driving safety and productivity for workers.

BP’s API strategy continues to accelerate IT delivery speed, while maintaining central governance — enabling the IT&S team to deliver on the digital needs of a global energy business. Over a third of the APIs and integrations built are reused. For example, the team initially released the BPme app in specific regions and, after witnessing great success, the team launched the app in new markets twice as fast by simply reusing the same APIs. 

BP’s application network, underpinned by APIs, drives faster project delivery and ensures application reliability and scalability. A great example of this is the BPme app, which now allows BP to process over 290,000 transactions daily.

To access all of BP’s results, read BP’s customer story. For more on implementing an API-led approach in energy and utilities industries, read our whitepaper, How APIs power digital transformation for energy and utilities.



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