Digital Transformation and the Journey towards Sustainable Energy

Published on Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The Internet of Things, big data, artificial intelligence. The digital revolution has multiple aspects and its transformation is a train not to be missed, offering an invaluable opportunity to innovate and increase the competitiveness of production systems worldwide.

According to Forbes’ overview of the new year’s main trends, outlined by the leading agencies involved in digital analysis (Gartner, Forrester and IDC), Digital Transformation will be one of the key drivers of corporate strategies. For the CEO’s of the world’s leading companies, 2016 will be a year of integration of digital tools into all company activities, in order to achieve a clear, long-term vision and to demonstrate how these technologies can generate value. The B2B industry will bridge the digital divide of B2C companies, which today are much more capable of developing winning strategies for Digital Transformation.

These forecasts reflect the growth strategy that has been put in place in recent months by CEO Francesco Starace for the Enel Group. Digitisation is in fact an enabler of sustainable growth and it is a key factor to achieve an open power approach in the energy business; one that is able to transform the challenges of carbon neutrality and the fight against climate change into shared value.

Starting from this assumption, we decided to set a new digital strategy based on sustainability: the use of digital tools in our everyday lives can bring people together and redefine relations, both within the company and with customers.

Digitisation accelerates the sharing of ideas and projects, as well as facilitating connections between Countries. This in turn promotes the spread of best practices, while easily and quickly transferring our know-how to every corner of the planet in which we operate.

There is also another advantage. Digitisation helps us become more sustainable in our everyday activities: live streaming of meetings and conventions, mobile work, GPS tracking tools for operational teams and drones to monitor networks and systems – a series of innovations that allow users to cut down on CO2 emissions. This is why the Global ICT management, led by Carlo Bozzoli, has begun to work closely with the Sustainability and Innovation management in order to define the necessary tools to measure how digitisation can make our business more sustainable.

Two examples stand out. The first is an internal project to reduce printing paper, launched in Italy in 2012. To date, the initiative has allowed the company to reduce the amount of paper purchased, as well as its CO2 emissions, from 2.5 to 1.2 tonnes per month. Another example is the use of telepresence or virtual conferencing rooms: as many as 421 telepresence meetings were held during the first nine months of 2015, avoiding the emission of 4,815 tonnes of CO2.

The same results can be obtained by promoting a “paperless” approach with customers, by using an electronic bill via social media, as well as Apps to monitor and manage energy services.

Digitisation also supports our business in the development of network technologies, from smart grids to digital meters, to the collection and analysis of data in order to optimise electricity generation from renewable sources.

“For us, Digital Transformation – Bozzoli explained – means digitising both the processes through which we offer services to our end customers and our internal processes, focusing on major technological trends: Social Media, Mobile Technology, Big Data and Machine-to-machine Communication.  We have launched a comprehensive action plan based on this principle, focusing on the use of cybersecurity, the optimisation of applications, data centre transformation, a massive use of cloud technology, and smart and mobile working.”