The smart grid has seen new entrants from a range of different ICT related companies and company types. In the short term, companies that fall under these headings should seek to negotiate alliances and “dig in” – essentially locking in their product or service to the principle grid manager.
Longer term, grid management may fall to major providers of telecoms or ICT services, while niche roles may open for “ringmasters” or market makers in those areas where grids are increasingly open to carrying traffic from multiple providers. These are new roles and companies should think carefully before taking them on.
Recommendations by types of ICT player
ICT Giants should primarily invest to develop own products for mainstream applications and keep a watching brief on smaller entrepreneurial businesses. As these are developing niche solutions to particular parts of the smart grid jigsaw a secondary strategy of acquisitions of these highly specialist players especially in the fields of security and computational intelligence should be adopted.
Communications suppliers should primarily position themselves to offer multiple channel solutions. Supply total comms as opposed to single channel solutions (PLC or wireless or wired) the total comms provision is a key secondary objective.
Smaller non-utility players should continue to design attractive solutions likes apps, devices and efficient networks. Ensure they future proof the offerings through active dialogue with utilities to help them understand the consumer niches.
IT Support organisations have a key opportunity in providing “cyber forensic” systems based on intelligent agents that constantly check data anomalies. Security should be built into this as a prime feature. An area utilities have been accused of being slow to recognise.
ICT companies should not focus too hard on the traditional energy value chain but look at the Home Appliance market. Critical players are likely to be the appliance manufacturers and chip manufacturers so ICT suppliers need an open dialogue here as well as with the utilities.