'A little better every day'

Since the personal computer became available to the general public, digitization has taken off enormously. The amount of information stored digitally worldwide rose from 1% to 99% between the late 1980s and 2014. ‘Digitization is one of the pillars of our corporate strategy’, says Sanne de Graaf, Manager of Connections to the East and North of the Netherlands at Alliander. ‘It offers many opportunities, both for better grid management and for increasing customer convenience. At the same time, the digitized society also raises many expectations.’


‘When consumers place an order at an online store, they receive an email with a track & trace code that allows them to track their purchase right up to their own front door. There is a whole chain behind this. From the warehouse via a distribution center to the company that arranges the shipment. All links in the chain exchange information. If the same consumer requests home connections for gas, water and electricity, he expects to be informed in the same way. This expectation of our customers fits well with our long-term strategy, in which greater customer convenience and data-driven network management are important pillars. In addition to operational excellence: our aim to do our work a little better every day.’


‘As in the case of the web shop, network operators do not operate on their own either. In order to offer our customers more convenience, we will have to coordinate our processes and information flows throughout the entire chain. This means working closely with a large number of parties, such as municipalities, construction companies and contractors such as A.Hak, who provide the connections. In order to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by digitization, we need to have our IT systems talk to each other and work together towards the standardization of our processes.’

‘In addition to customer convenience, this type of chain cooperation has many other advantages. By digitally sharing information via the Digital Cooperation Platform, we reduce the chance of errors, do our work faster, plan our people and resources more efficiently and better control each other's work’, says De Graaf. ‘This requires a joint investment, but ultimately the entire chain benefits from it.’


Digitization is also helping Alliander with another strategic spearhead: data-driven grid management. ‘Smart meters and other sensors that monitor the use and load of the electricity grid provide us with a wealth of information. These data, which are stored digitally and anonymously, enable us to quickly resolve any malfunctions. By analyzing the data, we also discover patterns, similar events that occur prior to a failure. This information enables us to take preventive action and prevent malfunctions. This is another way in which digitization contributes to our efforts to do our work a little better every day.’