For decades, suppliers like Engie Electrabel have simply provided a commodity, be it gas or electricity.

But providing energy is not sufficient anymore.

The rise of digitization means we are no longer just an energy company, at least not in the traditional sense.

As margins get thinner, technology provides us with new revenue streams that will also help us provide a better experience to our customers.

We now offer a whole host of related services, from smart thermostats and solar panels for our domestic customers, to small windmills and commercial heating management for our commercial clients.

In the future, as we embrace Business 4.0, we intend to make use of technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, and blockchain to become an agile and customer-centric digital business.

However, before your organization can make the most of the opportunities associated with Business 4.0, you must first listen out for one important thing: the sound of silence.



The sound of silence

In this era of innovation, companies are clamouring for the latest digital solutions that will help take their operation to the next level. But progress can only be achieved with a silent IT system.

Simply put, very few – if any – chief executives will commit to a digital transformation project if operational excellence within their IT department has not yet been achieved.

For Engie Electrabel, the sound of silence in IT means millions of invoices being sent every year and thousands of transactions taking place every day without disruption.

As the biggest non-state owned energy company in the world, operating in 70 countries and with 155,000 employees, silence does not necessarily come easy to an organization of Engie Electrabel’s size.

However, through our partnership with Tata Consultancy Services, we complete thousands of silent IT activities every day. This has allowed us to reduce our operating expense by 45%.

Having reached this level of operational excellence, we can concentrate on delivering a digital transformation that will enable us to compete in the age of Business 4.0.


Energy transformation

Digital transformation is one of three central pillars for turning Engie Electrabel into an energy company fit for the 21st century and beyond.

These pillars are the ‘three Ds’ of decarbonization; decentralization; and digitization.

With decarbonization we are selling coal power plants and investing in renewables because we whole-heartedly believe in eco-friendly energy sources.

Decentralization reflects the fact that a growing number of consumers are producing their own power via solar panels and other means. This shifts the center of the market away from a few large scale power plants towards thousands of individual generators spread across the grid.

And Digitization of course represents the emergence of IT departments as a major force within organizations, helping to lead their digital transformations.

For our part at Engie Electrabel, we intend to use AI and big data to get a 360 degree view of the customer. This will help us communicate with our customers and resolve problems at any time of the day or night.

We are also looking at blockchain technology to revolutionize the way payments are transferred.

And customer security, which is coming under increasing scrutiny as cyber criminals become more sophisticated, will be increased through technologies such as virtual signatures and facial recognition.

Our future success will be defined by our ability to offer an agile and customer-centric digital service, which works silently.



If you can’t beat them, join them 

In most industries the word disruption has negative overtones. But we don’t see it that way. In fact, we intend to turn disruption to our advantage.

The energy market has experienced disruption across the entire value chain, from generation to marketing and sales. This presents opportunities.

New entrants are flooding the market. Many of these newcomers have considerable digital credentials – I’m referring to companies including Amazon, Google and Apple – however, they know very little about how energy is managed.

Rather than competing with these companies, we mean to partner with them. This will allow us to provide a much better service to our customers. A service so good, in fact, that we will have to shout about it… temporarily breaking our silence.


By Marc Lallemand, CIO at Engie Electrabel