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The energy and utilities sector has seen massive change over the past 20 years. Major growth has been spurred on by global investment and a growing demand for clean, smart and traceable energy.

However, as I discussed in Energy Management, one of the most significant transformations is the role of the energy customer.

Gone are the days where the only communication between an energy company and its customers was a monthly or quarterly electricity bill.

Today’s customers are actively managing their energy consumption through fixed, floating, or mixed pricing models and consumption monitoring smartphone apps. They also demand complete transparency and traceability in terms of how and where their energy is produced.

With energy and utilities costs on the rise and a global trend toward large infrastructure investments (ultimately paid for by the end user), no wonder that consumers want to know what they are paying for.

So if ensuring complete transparency will help build customer loyalty, energy companies everywhere must be falling over each other to provide it, right?

Well, it’s a bit complicated.

To provide this level of transparency, energy companies must first integrate all business processes. Furthermore, they must ensure an efficient flow of data across the entire organization. Compounding the issue further, they must also make to factor in its full asset lifecycle costs, as early as in the design stage.

A tall order, no matter what industry you’re in.

Luckily, enterprise software is evolving in line with these changing needs.

Energy producers running robust, industry-optimized enterprise solutions are able to execute full, cradle-to-grave asset lifecycle management, whether it’s building a wind farm or creating the first man-made energy-generating lagoon. They are also able to drastically reduce its spare parts holdings (the scourge of any asset-intensive industry) and ensure compliance with increasingly stringent regulations and key measures such as ISO 55000.

What is more, companies running an end-to-end business solution are able to provide full visibility through effective master data management and inventory data consistency. For multi-national operations, it’s key to have one system that accounts for differences in everything from language to exchange rates and local tax implications.

In a very real way, the assets and infrastructure kept humming by companies in the energy and utilities sector represent the beating heart of our modern society.

That is why, partly thanks to the evolving role of the consumer, transparency, efficiency, and informed decision-making have never been more important.

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