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Why digital transformation means energy innovation

Technology is changing the way we do business. To stay competitive, businesses of all sizes are embracing digital technology in smart, new ways.

The reality of tech-led innovation is it places increased reliance upon energy, which brings new challenges such as rising costs, increased carbon footprint and greater concerns over supply reliability. To become a sustainable, future-focused business, companies are getting innovative with their plans around energy.

The need for long-term resilience

With the drive towards digital transformation gaining momentum, businesses need to manage the increased risk to their power supply. Investing in new energy technologies means they can ensure long-term stability and business continuity. In our research, 87% of sustainable businesses identify energy resilience as a top four business risk and say that as their business becomes more digitised, resilience to power interruptions becomes increasingly important. 55% say they are also thinking about the energy implications of increasing automation in their processes.

On-site energy generation such as solar and CHP, in conjunction with battery storage, could offer a solution. This not only helps a business to reduce its reliance on the grid and prevent supply disruption, but it can also boost its green credentials by reducing its carbon-based energy supply.

Cost savings and opportunities

By implementing innovative energy technologies, businesses can also save money, reduce wastage and even increase their income. 41% of sustainable businesses say they have enjoyed reduced energy costs, while 19% of public services companies say that investing in new energy technologies has delivered savings that they have been able to reinvest into new business growth initiatives.

Organisations that have made the biggest investments in energy technologies also intend to monetise these in smart, innovative ways. For instance, 68% of sustainable businesses say they are optimising their energy performance by using new software or artificial intelligence, and 66% say they are integrating their energy technologies and assets to maximise overall ROI benefits.

On top of this, two-thirds of businesses are already generating more than 10% of their energy on-site already, with eight out of 10 anticipating they will increase use of on-site generation over the next five years. Of those businesses already generating energy on-site, almost 30% are creating revenue by selling excess energy back to the grid.

Delivering ROI

Centrica Business Solutions recently worked with a global building materials company to implement an innovative energy measurement system, utilising wireless, self-powered sensors to monitor and capture energy data on a range of essential machinery, including pumps, conveyors and crushers. By enabling agile, data driven decisions to be made, the company has delivered annual savings of £200K+ at a single site, recovering their return on investment within one month.

Meeting customer demand

Sustainable businesses acknowledge that preparing for the energy implications of digitalisation is important. They recognise the potential reputational benefits of ensuring energy resilience, with retailers and businesses in the travel or tourism sector particularly sensitive to the potential reputational damage of failing to ensure business continuity. Of these businesses, 71% agree about the potential reputational impacts from not having a consistent supply of energy.

Businesses not only have to worry about their only energy plans, they also need to consider their supply chain. The energy plans of third parties (e.g. cloud infrastructure providers) are among the main areas where organisations are looking to be better prepared in the future.

As we highlighted in our last blog, when it comes to energy, customers are also demanding that businesses consider their environmental impact. 28% of real estate businesses say investing in energy systems and technology made their products and services more sustainable and attractive to customers.

So, what should your business do next?

If you would like help with determining how your business can become more resilient and monetise your future energy plans, the team at Centrica Business Solutions can help.

To learn more about the outcomes of our research, and what it takes to become a sustainable business, download our full report here