In the next in our exclusive series of interviews with the 2017 Energy Digitalisation Summit Middle East speakers, Salim Aslam, Director of Built Environment - Allthingsconnected/IoTSG shares his views on the digital transformation of the energy industry.

How do you see Digital Transformation reshaping the energy sector?
The energy sector encompasses not only the sourcing and production of energy but also the entire supply chain including last mile services to the customer. Fossil fuels and renewables will see greater autonomous management requiring less human interaction. We will also see a democratisation of renewable generation with micro-grids becoming more common with better solar panel and battery technologies coming into the market in the coming years.

What is driving innovation in Digital Transformation – strategy, technologies or both?
Responsiveness to the needs of the consumer whether they are corporations or individuals is a key strategy. AI and machine learning has enabled a greater degree of understanding about consumption demands of users but requires a greater integration of how these are used to build a greater analysis of what consumers demand. Edge computing devices demand response tools and behaviour pattern analytics integrated in a seamless multi-technology ecosystem will be a tough challenge but necessary to achieve customer satisfaction and retention.

How is AllThingsConnnected driving innovation in Digital Transformation?
AllThingsConnected (ATC) is a digital advisory company that sets out to help organisations better understand their business objectives and needs using technology as an enabler. Technology is a blunt tool when not moulded to the exact culture and direction of an organisation. AllThingsConnected studies, advises, builds and project manages digital transformation solutions to companies. To fully digitally transform an organisation, we must be change makers to the people who will be impacted with new technology and ways of work.

What role does IoT play in the digital transformation journey in the energy sector?
IoT especially IIoT is the cog and wheel of digital transformation in this and many other sectors. The future of work is changing as sensors, edge services and computing, cloud based analytics, cybersecurity, drones and AI take on a larger load of the dangerous and menial roles that are being performed by humans. Data in such a set-up is sourced, mined and published in real-time while predicting and prescribing actions that human operators can better act on. IoT and IIoT is essential to optimising work, delivering more and better services   and is the 1st line of defence to identifying problems that may arise at remote sites. 

Is Big Data really the new oil?
Data is the currency of the digital age. Since the early days of the internet, companies have strived to learn a great deal about the motivations of customers, big and small regardless of the product. Google is a great example in this. The unique search algorithm the founders created afforded a great opportunity for Google to use the search behaviour to offer products that the global market was looking for.

In this regard, Big Data is indeed the new oil as searching, mining, producing and productising with Big Data is the way forward in ensuring digital transformation focuses and moulds to the consumer. Big Data allows for patterns, habits and demand trends to be identified stochastically. This enables organisations to respond quicker to market demand, differentiate themselves from competition and successfully optimise the way they function internally.