A framework for assisting electric power companies in developing data-driven, risk-informed digital asset management strategies that balance risk, cost, and performance.

FREMONT, CA: The important step in developing a digital asset management strategy is to define the organization's vision and the desired business outcomes across the entire organization and asset ecosystem. The next step is to create a comprehensive, integrated solution involving multiple technology components—a success road map. This step is critical because cherry-picking and experimenting with a few pilot projects in different framework phases without a comprehensive plan will likely not yield the desired results. Furthermore, because the value chain is converging, each project should be integral to a comprehensive digital strategy and road map.

Data governance and cybersecurity should be at the heart of any digital asset management strategy. Data could be a company's most valuable asset as the foundation for all analytics. However, digitalization and its insights may be of little value if data collection, cleansing, standardization, storage, and curation are not rigorously managed. Consider beginning with the design of the data architecture and the governance required to maintain it. This is significant because the architecture will evolve as technology, security threats, business needs, and customer preferences change. Individual project plans should show how business processes, data objects, and architecture will interact, what data quality standards should be set, and how they will be met.

Cyber risk management is equally important. Because of the increased connectivity digital transformation brings, cybersecurity threats extend into the cloud, across third-party networks, and through connected assets and devices. For example, perils lurk in industrial control systems (SCADA) and extend into all components of the industrial internet of things (IIoT), mobile apps, including sensors, capital equipment, software, firmware, hardware, and operating systems, databases, and ports. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation's Critical Infrastructure Protection (NERC CIP) standards for bulk electric power system cybersecurity continue to evolve and be a foundation for the building.

Other considerations when developing a digital strategy include adopting technologies such as cloud computing or 5G and how to distribute the impact of capital costs and O&M expenses to maximize the benefit for the organization and its customers. Finally, it is critical to review the strategy regularly because as technologies advance, costs typically fall, implementation timelines can shorten, and projects that were not feasible yesterday may now be feasible today. While numerous issues to consider, the potential rewards will almost certainly make the journey worthwhile.

Digital utilities stand to gain significantly by improving processes, increasing customer understanding, empowering employees, increasing security, and mitigating risks.