In a fight for relevance and to capitalise on the potential of digital, organisations today are reinventing strategies and building new roadmaps for future growth.\nOne such organisation with digital ambitions is Tenaga Nasional Berhad, the largest electricity utility in Malaysia, with a presence throughout Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Labuan and regional areas. The 70-year-old company is reshaping the electricity industry through the deployment of digital technologies.\n\u201cTenaga is creating the grid of the future through greater digitisation and automation,\u201d said Haji Adibi Ambak, head (customer and market) of distribution network division, Tenaga Nasional Berhad. \u201cWe have piloted smart meters and advanced metering infrastructure facilities for customers in Melaka, alongside the automation of operations.\u201d\nSpeaking to CIO ASEAN on the sidelines of Malaysia 2.0 Summit with IBM in Kuala Lumpur, Ambak said such an approach is aligned to the organisation\u2019s shift in focus towards smart grid technologies as the company plans to become a leader in smart utilities across Southeast Asia.\nTackling disruption head-on\n\u201cThe energy industry was facing technology disruption with challenges such as addressing new technologies, market deregulation, energy security and reliability, alongside providing access to affordable energy services and maintaining environmentally friendly production and use of energy,\u201d Ambak observed.\nIn response to these challenges, Tenaga embraced a \u2018Reimagining TNB\u2019 mandate that "involved actively pursuing future generation sources, especially in renewable energy and the grid of the future, leveraging on a smart grid framework," said Ambak.\nIn the pursuit of digital transformation, and in the context of a smarter approach to energy, Tenaga partnered with IBM in Malaysia, leveraging the vendor\u2019s smart grid technologies to refine the way utilities work.\n\u201cA smart grid delivers electricity through an electric infrastructure that is more distributed and more variable in operation than traditional grids as it is designed for sustainability and driven by a diverse set of supply and demand resources that will require optimisation to deal with the underlying technical uncertainty inherent to newer energy technologies,\u201d explained Catherine Lian, managing director of Malaysia at IBM. \u201cAnd the underlying financing and reward structures will be increasingly more market-based than regulatory and asset-based."\nThe company's plans for continued investment in digitisation and automation of the grid "will lead to improved performance and reliability, which will ultimately benefit customers," Ambak said. Some of the early business benefits Ambak cites include better performance through enhanced productivity and efficiency and lower operating costs.\nTransformation at work\nWorker productivity has improved at Tenaga, Ambak says, through optimising business processes, eliminating unnecessary paperwork, and simplifying data collection. But Ambak acknowledged that initiating transformation both internally and externally is seldom straightforward.\n\u201cSome of challenges we faced were changing the way work is done and delivered,\u201d he said. To help change the mindset of the company's staff, Ambak "created a different way of doing business such as creating a strategic business unit and providing a mandate to get thing done differently with clearly defined terms such as efficiency, productivity and growth based on KPIs. This instilled better entrepreneurship skills and competency in driving the business for the future.\u201d\nAmbak and his team educated employees on the new direction of the organisation, and crucially, their role within that change. \u201cNumerous engagement sessions with the different levels of staff were held and we continuously monitor our progress,\u201d he added. \u201cThe journey to the top entails a shift towards a more performance-oriented, adaptive culture and being agile.\u201d\nFocus on the customer\nIn a direct message for businesses embarking on digital transformation strategies in Malaysia, Ambak says that irrespective of industry, success will be centred around \u201cfocusing on the customer.\u201d Enhancing the quality and value of services delivered to customers is the purpose behind Tenaga's digital transformation, he says.\nHe advises companies to "create a business model that will create more value to the customer and the company though digitisation." Customers should be at the heart of the strategic plan. \u201cWhen the customer is at the heart of the strategic plan, in our case\u00a0\u2013 more than just a meter\u00a0\u2013 it is about understanding the values and needs beyond kWh consumption. Businesses will then gain unparalleled loyalty that is a scarce asset today."\n\u201cOur simple business philosophy at Tenaga is that it\u2019s all about serving needs of people,\u201d he said. \u201cBusinesses must be clear who they serve and understand these people well."