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Cell Phone TowerIt’s a time of transformation for the energy industry. Change is being driven by a variety of forces, namely technology and increased customer expectations. Customers have come to expect high-tech digital experiences from service providers, and utilities are no exception. Tech-savvy customers are putting pressure on utility companies to modernize their operations and stay competitive.

According to the 2019 Power and Utilities Industries Outlook report, the energy industry is growing, but slowly. With the advancement of energy alternatives, like solar, wind, and battery storage, customers have options. If utility companies can’t deliver the experience their customers expect, they risk losing revenue.

To meet the expectations of today’s customers, many utilities are modernizing their grids. Capital spending in the utilities sector rose 14% in 2018, reaching an all-time high of $133.8 billion.

Unified Communications: The Gateway to a Modern Grid

With the speed and connectivity of unified communications (UC), utility companies have an opportunity to enhance the modernization of their power grid and entire operation, without adding to their overburdened CapEx budgets. As a service, UC can be listed as an operating expense (OpEx).

firstlight-can-help-utility-companies-with-unified-communicationsWith a unified communications solution, a utility company can operate more efficiently, communicate effectively with its employees and contractors, and deliver the kind of personalized,

high-tech experience today’s customers expect. Plus, with enhanced communications capabilities and a high-speed fiber optic connection, utilities can achieve complete operational visibility.

Fiber-based UC provides informational insight and the visibility and resilience to respond when disaster strikes.

Here are 5 ways that unified communications can transform your utility company and bring it closer to modernization:

Increase Communication Reliability

Reliable communication is a key component of a resilient power grid. It’s important both for systems monitoring and for communication between crews on the ground during outages. Unified communications are built on a resilient backbone of a fiber optic network and backed up by layers of redundancy to deliver reliable communications to utility companies.

Boost Customer Satisfaction

It’s no secret that today’s customers have high expectations. They want streamlined electronic billing processes and easy access to account information. There’s also an implicit expectation of data security and privacy. With UC, customers can enjoy a personalized online experience with features like customizable usage reports, streamlined voice and messaging service, and convenient online billing.

Enhance Communication Capabilities

boost-cusomter-satisfaction-with-firstlight-ucA connected workplace is an efficient one. By using the communications capabilities of UC, like streaming conference, virtual presence, voicemail to email, and unified messaging, utility companies can reduce their workplace footprint and associated costs. UC enables employees to stay connected internally and resolve issues.

Enhance Emergency Response

UC allows management to coordinate with crews on the ground, restore power fast, and monitor your grid. It also allows a utility to provide real-time updates on power restoration progress and geo-targeting problem areas. With complete operational visibility enabled by unified communications, crews can launch a highly coordinated and effective response to any emergency or issue.

Optimize IoT Investments

IoT devices help bring power grids into the 21st century. With IoT technology, utilities can achieve total network control with remote monitoring of transmission lines, sub-stations, and transformers. Unified communications leverages IoT by collecting, transmitting, and storing data. Paired with

advanced machine learning capabilities, technicians have near-real-time access to information about the current state of a power grid and predicted future status.

Technicians have time to address maintenance requirements before they become problems. With UC and IoT, utilities can monitor temperatures and equipment. If disaster strikes, they’ll have the information at hand to respond.

With UC, utility companies have the opportunity to enhance their resilience, customer experience, and internal operations. In the fight to deliver a high-quality experience for customers and maintain a solid margin, UC is a powerful weapon.

Achieve seamless visibility and communication throughout your power grid and entire operation. Learn more about FirstLight’s unified communications as a service solutions and download our fact sheet.