A compelling online presence is a necessity for companies in the energy sector. And it’s not just about having an intuitive, dynamic website either. It’s also about introducing digital platforms that deliver information tailored to individual customers – from smart meter readings that break down energy usage into categories in the consumer space, to advice and information on planned disruption and engineering works in the business-to-business energy market.
Organisations in the energy sector could once get away with relatively static websites, now they need to find ways of managing sites that are far more dynamic in themselves – and then smoothly marrying those sites with an array of customer information databases and personalised portals.
The complexity doesn’t end there either. Another typical digital management challenge for the energy sector relates to the mergers, acquisitions and rebrands that are particularly rife in this industry. The upshot of all this movement within the sector is that disparate websites, databases and other IT infrastructures have to be consolidated and streamlined.
Dealing with this complexity requires a highly intuitive back-end to the digital infrastructure, one that can unify disparate systems, allow a wide range of users to add and amend content, and for plug-in modules to easily add new functionality. This is why open source content management systems, such as Drupal, are becoming increasingly popular, as they enable organisations to manage digital platforms more easily.
There’s also the question of uptime and data security for companies in the sector to consider. On the one hand, energy organisations have to contend with the same data protection regulations as any other companies collecting, storing and processing customer data. They need robust cybersecurity in place, and they need to be able to demonstrate everything they do with a clear audit trail. On the other, they need to offer the digital reliability and integrity expected of truly mission-critical organisations. Utilities companies are part of the national critical infrastructure. Maintaining clear lines of communication with their customers is paramount. Dealing with this complexity requires a holistic approach to website hosting, digital infrastructure monitoring and problem resolution, so that any issues can be identified, isolated and fixed as rapidly as possible. And this is why managed services are particularly relevant for energy organisations.
Front and back
Organisations in the energy sector have to manage a complex and ever-changing set of digital challenges. At the back-end of their infrastructures, they need to ensure the reliability and data integrity demanded of mission-critical and customer facing systems. At the front-end, they need to ensure that the content they present is absolutely relevant to each customer, and refreshed as required. And all this typically needs to be managed, not just across a standard website, but across one or more additional digital platforms or portals.
Forward-thinking energy organisations, then, should be seeking ways of making all this management as smooth, simple and scalable as possible – and, often, that means embracing a managed services approach to their digital presences.