The convergence of IT and OT is a critical component of digital transformation. Here, Angela Lam, Manager Information Technology at Horizon Power, looks at how IT and OT can work together so that utilities can reap the full benefits of advanced metering and smart grids.

Angela Lam, Manager Information Technology, Horizon Power

Angela Lam, Manager Information Technology, Horizon Power

Ahead of her presentation at the Digital Utilities 2020 conference in Sydney from 19-20 March, Ms Lam highlights the importance of IT and OT working together for organisational effectiveness.

“In order to be effective we need to collaborate and, at certain points, integrate IT and OT capability. Our recent organisational realignment has brought the OT and IT teams under one umbrella: our Technology and Digital Transformation Division,” Ms Lam said.

“Our General Manager Technology and Digital Transformation has a seat at the executive table enabling us to drive the technology agenda and facilitate improved integration between teams – ensuring we have a cohesive architecture and governance framework in place.”

Transitioning from legacy systems and manual operations to more streamlined digital processes is an enormous undertaking that requires organisations to constantly evolve.

Horizon Power launched its renewed five-year strategy in September 2019 and is continuing to move forward on its digital transformation journey which is one of the business’s key priorities.

“Building a digital utility requires us to change the way we think, rethink the way we work, the way we organise ourselves and the capabilities we need. The last 12 months has seen us build a solid foundation, where we assessed our cloud strategy, are building a data management and integration platform and now we are embracing new ways of working,” Ms Lam said.

“A new way of working, supported by an Agile mindset and practices, will help us to be more flexible and pragmatic in our delivery and execution of work. It is indeed a significant undertaking, but a ‘must have’.

“Being Agile allows us to move and pivot when we need to and it enables strong collaboration between IT and the business, ensuring we focus on the things that matter and deliver value to our customers.”

When asked how Horizon Power manages the risk involved with digital innovation, without jeopardising customer, regulatory and legislative obligations, Ms Lam said the utility uses concepts such as:

  • Technology Readiness Levels (to assess the maturity of technologies)
  • Pace-Layered Architecture (an approach to managing software applications through their entire life-cycle and differing ‘paces’ of change in support of evolving business requirements)
  • Cybersecurity Capability Maturity Model (C2M2 – adopted for critical infrastructure by the Australian Energy Market Operator)
  • Bimodal IT (the practice of managing two modes of IT delivery, one focused on stability and the other on agility)

This enables Horizon Power to innovate where it needs to, while protecting its critical data and core processes.

“We also leverage experienced partner networks and industry defacto/open standards, and work with industry consortiums and regulatory bodies such as the Australian Energy Market Operator the Federal Government on its Cyber Security Strategy, and WA’s Office of Digital Government.”

“Making digital part of our DNA requires us to put ‘digital first’ in everything we do. Whenever we build new processes or systems we need to ask ourselves if these processes or systems are enabling or hindering our digital transformation journey. ‘Digital first’ needs to become one of our key principles – and this requires an enormous mindset shift.”

What is Horizon Power doing to get IT and OT out of their traditionally separate silos?

Hear more from Angela Lam about how Horizon Power is moving forward with the integration of its IT and OT environments at Digital Utilities 2020, running from 19-20 March at the Sofitel Wentworth in Sydney.

 

About Horizon Power
Horizon Power is the West Australian Government’s regional and remote power provider. We are passionate about what we do, and strive to ensure our customers receive safe and reliable power to their homes, businesses and communities.

Our people and their families live in many of the regional and remote communities they service and support. Spanning some 2.3 million square kilometres, this makes us responsible for the largest geographical catchment of any Australian power provider. We operate 38 power systems delivering power to service ~48,000 customer connection across regional communities and businesses. This includes 32 microgrids tailored to meet the unique needs of some of the most isolated and remote communities in the world.

Horizon Power is making significant investments in developing its renewable energy capability and expertise. It currently has a number of initiatives underway exploring new and innovative ways of providing our customers with more sustainable, affordable power. For more information, visit www.horizonpower.com.au.