Fall is the best time of year for many reasons. Earlier this week, SAP hosted more than 900 customers, partners, and friends at the annual SAP for Utilities conference in San Antonio, Texas. Each year, this wonderful community of utility professionals makes their way to the annual conference to learn, network, collaborate, and leverage best practices across the utility community.

The special ingredient this year proved to be the contagious speed of change and growth within what is quickly becoming a non-traditional industry. This week was evidence of how technology will drive change in ways that extend beyond traditional power, T&D. Each speaker track hinted at or fully demonstrated digital innovation in the utility market.

With the rapid pace of technological change, the modern — and future — utility has endless possibilities ahead to create new revenue streams and help grow communities in ways early utility pioneers would never have dreamed of. What we learned is that to keep pace, the utilities industry will be required to have the most efficient digital technology to support this, the people to lead it, and architecture and environments to support and drive change.

At the SAP for Utilities conference in 2018, we heard from several track panels, aligned according to service areas including customer service, operations, and innovation. We learned about everything from transforming the future state of the utility to digital customer engagement. We heard from our industry leaders regarding work management, asset analytics, and even how the industry can leverage tools such as machine learning, blockchain, and robotics.

There was no shortage of opportunity to learn, grow, and meet new people related to current and future roles the utility will play in our lives. The time is now: When looking to laggards and leaders within corporate transformations, McKinsey & Co. has stated that fewer than one out of 10 incumbent players across industries have adopted offensive corporate strategies that change their portfolios and business models. So what does this say about the future state of the utility industry?

As markets shift and industries converge, partnerships and alignment in the utility industry are clearly at the forefront to seize massive opportunities that drive new revenue streams and further help foster a purpose-led organization. If information is the new currency, the utility possesses this at grand scale. When you combine this breadth and depth of information combined with customer trust, the opportunities are endless, the future is bright.

To support this, Navigant stated that incumbents in the energy industry will have less than five years to reorient their products and business models around fast emerging technology and ecosystems like smart cities or risk becoming a fringe player in the emerging energy economy. It will be critical to leverage the proper platforms and strategies around this orchestration. Aggressive technology adoption will lead to new values of $1 trillion by 2030.

We are thrilled to be walking this journey with the utilities community and will step up to the challenge of helping to drive new growth, products, and thought leadership as we transform together.

Thank you to attendees for stopping in for a handshake at my session with Ben Edelbrock, vice president of Innovation for Utilities at SAP: A Roundtable for Material Traceability-Enabled Blockchain.

James Piacentino is chief digital advisor for SAP Leonardo, Regulated Industries, at SAP.