Originally scheduled to take place in NYC, this event was designed to bring together Canadian and US Utility and Industrial leaders to discuss the future of innovation in a digital world. Much like the rest of the world, COVID-19 forced us to adapt our plans and move the Summit to a virtual platform. However, taking things online definitely came with its own set of difficulties …
· How do I remove my background, so no one sees my messy house?
· What is the quality of my camera?
· What happens if my kids or pets make noise in the background?
· What webinar hosting platform should we use?
· Will we be able to hold people’s attention for 2 hours?
· What if my internet cuts out?
· Most important, do I really need to change out of my sweatpants?
With nearly 70 participants, including more than 10 Corporate Strategics and almost 20 Utilities, our focus on digitalization led to many important conversations around customers and employees. Physical and mental health concerns regarding social distancing measures, PPE, and keeping up with daily operations that are continuously evolving were all topics of interest. Digital tools that were once met with so much resistance have now become essential; the new norm.
The acceptance of a rapid cultural shift from in-person to online was obvious when hearing companies talk about downsizing their office spaces and opting to implement new work-from-home policies. For those essential workers in the field, this shift will hopefully, eventually, take a virtual detour as well, as services such as audits and meter and sensor readings become digitalized.
We had one company describe how they are offering employees $1,000 to set up home offices and will be downsizing their current office space by 30%. It was clear that companies are recognizing their ability to stay connected via virtual meetings as well as the benefits of going digital:
· Less commuting (more time actually spent working!)
· Less money spent on transportation and parking
· Less cars and trains mean less emissions (yay!)
· Less money spent on office space
· More virtual meetings mean less travel expenses
Other companies commented on E-Commerce and how they are opening up online stores as well as offering webinars and seminars for both customers and employees. Going digital could also prove to be more convenient for customers. Several of our attendees highlighted the possibility of using virtual reality for customer service needs and even predictive maintenance.
Globally, we are seeing and feeling the effect that COVID-19 is having on our economy; is there a correlation between this recession and an increase in digital innovation? What new opportunities can we take advantage of right now to help drive change and growth?
What we know for sure, is that we need to continue supporting each other and figure out how to move forward and focus on creating a positive strategic impact on our post COVID world.
Your Friends at EnerTech