For far too long the role of the CIO within many companies has been almost an afterthought. Sure they all had CIOs, but unless the company was part of the IT sector then the CIO was mostly relegated to making sure that the corporate email system was working, he or she was not really a part of the company’s strategic planning team. However, there is one industry where this is not the case – CIOs are being viewed as the key to the company’s long-term success. Which industry you say? It’s the power industry. Let me explain…
What’s Going On In The Power Industry?
Just in case you didn’t know it, there is a set of big changes that are sweeping though the power industry. The folks who run the coal, natural gas, nuclear, and solar energy plants and who provide millions of consumers and businesses with electricity have been doing things the same way for what seems like forever. Until today.
What has happened is that the raw sources of energy, oil, natural gas, and nuclear have become very expensive. These industries are heavily regulated and so they can’t just raise prices. Instead, what they’d like to do is to start to charge more for electricity that is used during the work day when everyone wants it and then charge less at night when they have more capacity than is needed.
This is where the CIO comes in to play. In order to implement this time-sensitive usage billing, the power industry is rolling out something called the “smart grid”. This requires a “smart meter” to be placed on a home or a business and then a communication link between the power company and the smart meter needs to be established. The days of the meter reader wandering through your neighborhood are going away.
Why Is The CIO So Important In The Power Industry?
The reason that the CIO has risen to become so important in the power industry is because they are starting to become overwhelmed with data. Just imagine collecting 365x24x60 minutes worth of data from millions of customers year after year. How would you collect it? Where would you store it? What would you do with it once you had it? These are all questions that power industry CIOs are being called on to answer – thankfully they are a part of the definition of information technology that every company’s IT department has to deal with every day.
Just to make things even more interesting, the notion of security has become a hot topic in the power industry as of late. After the incident in Iran where some industrial centrifuges were remotely tampered with by a computer virus, the power industry has realized just how vulnerable they have become.
A power industry CIO has his or her hands full right now. They need to implement IT solutions that are going to help the company roll out its smart grid solution today. However, they also have to create and implement the IT infrastructure that the company is going to need in order to hold on to all of the data that they collect.
The power industry CIOs are standing at the edge of an opportunity to shine. Once the electricity usage data starts to flow in, they will be in charge of the only department in the company that will be able to analyze the data. They’ll need to move quickly in order to implement the systems that will be needed to process the data and provide the rest of the company with the usage dashboard that they’ll need in order to make good decisions.
What All Of This Means For You
Technology is now at the heart of what almost every company does. The one person in a company who controls that technology and who should be setting the company’s course for the future is the CIO. All too often, the CIO has not been as a key part of a company’s strategy team.
However, this is changing in the power industry. They are starting to understand the importance of information technology. With the arrival of the smart grid and its need for massive amounts of data collection, analysis, and reporting, the job of CIO has been transformed. Now CIOs are being seen as key enablers of a power company’s future direction.
All CIOs can learn a few things from these power industry CIOs. Having identified a key industry transformation that required the support of the IT department in order to participate in, power industry CIOs have catapulted themselves into a key leadership role. Watch and learn!
Question For You: What do you think that power industry CIOs need to do in order to stay relevant after the smart grid change has been implemented?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
I’ve got some bad news for you. CIOs are unhappy. It turns out that a lot of CIOs are now reporting into the company’s CFO instead of its CEO. This means that the CFO is in charge and the CIO feels that he or she is not. Things can’t go on this way. What can be done to fix this problem?