On behalf of the Intel Energy team, hats off to the organizers of DistribuTECH (DTECH) for another great conference. With more than 10,000 attendees from 66 countries, this year's show was once again the "can't miss" event in energy transmission and distribution. Whether in San Antonio or San Diego, it seems like every DistribuTECH event has its overarching theme. Last year is was IT/OT integration; this year the focus seems to have shifted to real-time and edge analytics. The industry is now getting to a place where the vision of the smart grid is starting to materialize and the flow of Big Data is being tapped. It's now about doing something with the data in real-time, not sometime down the road, but now.
Over the last five years or so, utilities have focused on installation on the foundational infrastructure required to modernize an aging grid. This is still in its early stages overall and will take much more time and investment, by some estimates, north of $1.5 trillion by 2030. But as grid infrastructure matures, utilities are increasingly seeking to derive incremental and immediate value from the installed base of smart grid technologies. Real-time decision making at the edge is integrating with management for operations, planning and customer service functions, which is key to driving maximum business value from distributed intelligence.
Other themes apparent this year were the Internet of Things and mobile workforce.
Two weeks before the show, Google announced it was buying smart thermostat maker Nest Labs for a whopping $3.2 billion. This is validation that the transformation from isolated systems to Internet-enabled devices that can network and communicate with each other and the cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT) has arrived in the energy sector. But Nest isn't the only thermostat game in town; we saw similar solutions from industry leading companies that will be coming out later this year, and at very competitive price points.
I want to thank my fellow panelists from Intel, Microsoft, ESRI, and Panasonic for a great session on mobile workforce solutions. Microsoft pointed out that we are entering the golden age for the mobile worker. In fact, 80 percent of office workers across the board are doing at least some work outside the office. Mobile solutions are a way to streamline applications and enable field workers to be productive as working anywhere at any time becomes the new normal. In the future, things like augmented reality, gesture recognition, and speech recognition--such as Intel® Real Sense™ --will change the way we interact with devices and the word around us. While this may seem far out, only 10 years ago, pen and paper were the standard. Now, utility trucks come standard with laptops, telematics, and more. With a younger workforce coming online, the next generation of utility workers will be increasingly comfortable with using new and mobile technology, and will even expect it, as part of their job.
What were your takeaways from the show?