The digital revolution within the energy sector, or Energy 4.0, is heralding a new age where apps and IoT are fast becoming the lifeblood of the new energy economy.

International Energy Agency reported that Southeast Asia’s energy demand is projected to grow two-thirds by 2040 alongside expanding economies and rising populations.

The energy sector is now playing a crucial role in powering smart city development: Energy companies in Singapore, for instance, are increasingly leveraging value-added applications and data analytics, reflecting extensive efforts in investing and utilizing technology to meet sustainable development goals in line with the Smart Nation initiative.

The digital revolution within the energy sector, coined as Energy 4.0, is heralding a new age, where apps and IoT are fast becoming the lifeblood of the new energy economy.

Given this, faster development of solution supplementing the growth of energy management systems across the region as well as tighter collaborations between the energy sector and IT is in great need.

On accelerating innovation in the energy sector

As driving sustainability becomes a key focus in the smart infrastructure and technology space, it is necessary to overcome digital transformation challenges while accelerating the speed of innovation.

While many CIOs in companies would like more applications to be created to streamline internal and external processes, a common concern is the capability of IT departments or any other teams to deliver them on time are overstretched.

Unfortunately, scarcity of IT talent, massive backlogs, and the high cost of maintaining legacy systems continue to plague the digital transformation journeys of many enterprises in the energy sector.

According to the State of Application Development Report, 46% of APAC respondents, including companies in the energy sector, continue to take more than four months to deliver web applications, highlighting the time-consuming process of software development.

Additionally, 63% of the APAC respondents also complained of backlogs while 16% stated the backlogs were more than 10 apps. 69% of respondents across sectors, including energy, planned to deliver 10 or more applications in 2019 while 52% planned to deliver 50 or more, demonstrating an all-time-high demand for application developers.

Combining the shortage of developers with inflexible, hard-to-integrate back-office systems leads to IT teams merely focusing on keeping the lights on, derailing them from fostering innovation.

Given the energy sector’s pressing need for greater agility and efficiency in business processes, capabilities, and operations, it is necessary to quickly plug the gap between business demands and available IT resources.

This is the only way companies in the energy sector can move forward, as the focus shifts towards the rapid production, management, and modification of smart and modern apps.

Building a solid digital factory foundation

Removing silos in IT processes, driving better lifecycle management, ensuring higher application quality, and redeveloping legacy applications without major process disruptions have become crucial for energy sector to accelerate innovation and talent management.

Organizations in the sector can benefit from creating a factory base that eases application development across the lifecycle of initiatives, from project assessment to app distribution and infrastructure monitoring.

A digital factory foundation leveraging low-code development platforms, which streamline the software design and development process with minimal hand-coding, is one way to enable IT teams in the energy sector to significantly deliver value quickly and reliably.

This can spur the adoption of an operating model that can quickly empower local IT teams to develop apps on their own while still ensuring developers’ compliance with governance rules and quality standards.

One company that has benefited from such initiative is Schneider Electric, which built a low-code digital factory to accelerate, standardize, and improve application development processes and better address the gap between business demands and available IT resources.

Their low-code digital factory has enabled them to accelerate the development process and create 30 internal apps in approximately 40% of the original traditional technology production time, which successfully eliminated 650 days of effort in the first year.

With a solid digital factory foundation in place, Schneider Electric has deployed several large enterprise applications that bolster efficiency in the supply chain, finance, portfolio management, and manufacturing management, among others, with a large portion of these applications replacing legacy apps.

Having a low-code digital factory base that can support IT teams in their application development process can serve as a best practice that streamlines application delivery and eases the app maintenance and quality improvement process.

This can go a long way in driving digital transformation across the energy sector by addressing the need for speed and allowing IT teams to create new sustainable business models that spur innovation with the minimal upfront investment in setup, training, and deployment.