In conjunction with CERA Week in Houston, we today released findings from a Microsoft survey of worldwide utility executives about the implementation and effects of the smart grid.  The results? Disruptive!

There’s been a lot written about disruptive technologies in the past, but our survey results indicate that the implementation of the smart grid and all its components throws a wrench in the process of everyday life at utilities. And that’s not a bad thing, of course. Utilities are responding to limitations of an expensive grid infrastructure in the face of growing demand for electricity, political desires for a cleaner environment, and acknowledgement that a smart grid operating environment could benefit every utility company’s overall financial performance and efficiency.

The problem is getting there – actually implementing the smart grid. And our survey shows that utilities, while anxious to get the ball rolling, are struggling with a host of concerns. Our press release spells out those concerns.

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While we’ve been talking a great deal about the disruptive character of the smart grid, we haven’t quite been able to put our finger on the extent of the disruptiveness. And now we have.

As we say in the release, “only eight percent of utilities around the world have completed their smart grid technology implementations while 37 percent have projects underway and more than half haven’t yet started.” Those that haven’t started want to, but the magnitude of change for everything from business models to systems is overwhelming, especially given utilities’ existing asset and technology investments combined with the need to ensure profitability and reliability.

We think that, given the survey results, the demand for our Smart Energy Reference Architecture will grow, as utilities will want increasing guidance. They can’t do it on their own and will need sound, flexible, adaptable technology platforms and solutions from Microsoft and our partners to be successful in the new energy economy. – Jon C. Arnold