Digital Transformation of Energy Utilities: The Role of Employees

Problem definition and objective of the project:


The energy industry will increasingly change, because for example, new digital technologies will be included in products and services. These changes will influence the existing business model of energy suppliers. This trend is reinforced by the regulatory framework of the energy transition, which aims to build a decentralized, renewable and efficient energy supply system. In addition, new technologies enable the analysis of large amounts of data, which promise optimizations in the customer's own production and energy consumption.

With the increasing willingness of customers to change and their increasing demands, customer loyalty decreases and this offers opportunities to other non-industry companies to enter the market. To ensure sustainable competitiveness, producers are therefore forced to tackle the digital transformation and establish digital products, services and business models in the enterprise. However, employees of energy suppliers in particular face great challenges here. Barriers exist e.g. regarding the acceptance of new digital offers on their part. This includes, in particular, the willingness and motivation to create and design new tasks and roles for the employees as part of the digital transformation, which inevitably intervenes in existing and long-term structures and processes of energy suppliers.

Trough cooperation of the university with companies, real-life innovation projects, which change the current job description, are subject of the project. This includes, for example, the use of augmented or virtual reality in the maintenance and repair of infrastructure as well as the development of personalized data-driven services. The ability of energy providers to qualify and motivate their own employees for the digital world will thus become a decisive success factor.

The aim of the project is to develop an empirically derived action guide for energy suppliers that has been reviewed in the innovation projects together with the practice partners and to empower employees to proactively develop digital innovations. This enables companies to engage employees in the development process and the implementation of digital products, services and business models and to successfully manage projects for digital transformation. To this end, a situation and needs analysis should be carried out in the first step via employee interviews in order to record the perception of the digital transformation and the personal role of employees in this change process in the departments of technical service and sales. In a second step, joint innovation management competences and challenges adapted to the requirements of digital transformation are discussed in a cross-company workshop. The third and final step is to review the effectiveness of specific innovation management tools and methods.



Gesellschaft für Energie und Klimaschutz Schleswig-Holstein GmbH

ESN EnergieSystemeNord GmbH ESN Logo

RheinEnergie AG

Rhein Energie Logo
Stadtwerke Geesthacht GmbH 


Logo Stadtwerke Geestacht
Husum Netz GmbH 




Stadtwerke Husum GmbH 




Stadtwerke Nortorf AöR


Stadtwerke Nortorf

 Stadtwerke Rendsburg GmbH 

Stadtwerke Rendsburg Logo
Verband der Schleswig-Holsteinischen Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft (VSHEW) VSHEW


Prof. Dr. Carsten Schultz

Prof. Dr. Claudia Büngeler

Julia Kroh

Christopher Garrelfs



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