Last week, we wrapped up our first-ever virtual Itron Utility Week (IUW), bringing together a record number of registrants, including Itron customers, partners, sponsors and industry experts from across the globe. What was most incredible about this event was how, despite the challenges brought on by this year, we were all still able to connect, share ideas, learn from one another and empower innovation virtually – we even had folks tune in all the way from Norway!

During this year’s event, the focus on innovation and the need to look at things differently was front and center. The challenges that we are facing together in the industry – from rising consumer expectations and integrating renewables to navigating increasingly connected, smarter cities and communities or addressing aging infrastructure – mean we can’t continue to do things as we have before. During the opening keynote, Tom Deitrich, Itron president and CEO, stated that the enduring transformation of our industry requires innovation, and that innovation starts with people.

“We can empower innovation by sharing fresh ideas with endless possibilities, and together, create a more resilient, more reliable, safer and more resourceful world,” said Deitrich.

Joining the conversation, Paula Gold-Williams, president and CEO of CPS Energy, discussed how the industry needs to be more agile and think about the “long-term plays.”

“Our general thinking is that we have to be open to change and improvement. Every challenge that the world is given, every challenge that a human is given, is an opportunity to learn from it, grow, and accept it,” said Gold-Williams. “But in our industry, we can’t just accept change, we have to embrace it.”

To kick off day two, Kimberly Britton, CEO of EPIcenter, moderated a panel of female leaders at the forefront of our industry, including Heather Rosentrater, SVP of energy delivery and shared services at Avista; Marcy Reed, president of National Grid Massachusetts; and Sadzi Oliva, commissioner of Illinois Commerce Commission. The group discussed topics such as leading in a time of crisis, the reality of working from home and how to best manage competing demands. Read more in this spotlight blog: Empowering Innovation – Women in Utilities Panel.

Michael C. Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work, shared how to build a culture of innovation, collaboration and inclusion in the final keynote of the day. His insight was especially relevant to 2020 and the challenges we have all faced this year, stating: “the stakes are as high as they’ve ever been – and when the stakes are high, businesses take a look at their purpose and take the opportunity to renew their purpose.” That’s something we can certainly all take into account as we work through challenges derived from COVID-19 and its impacts on how we operate.

For our final day, we opened with a Big Picture Session, Creating Agile Communities Leveraging Smart City & Utility Infrastructure, moderated by Jason Anderson from Cleantech San Diego. During this session, our panel of city, utility and industry experts discussed the role of smart infrastructure in creating agile communities that can adapt to rapidly evolving situations in real time. To wrap up the event, Nicola Palmer, chief product development officer at Verizon, shared her thoughts on the future of utility and smart city networks, and the impact of 5G on how we live, interact and play.

Awards and Breakout Sessions
Throughout the event, attendees had the opportunity to dig in on a range of topics spanning across four themed tracks: Applications, Outcomes and Services; Multi-purpose Network Solutions; Mobile and Measurement Solutions; and Data Management.

We also revealed our 2020 Resourcefulness Award Winners, hosted by Frost & Sullivan. Now in its fifth year, this award recognizes utilities that are achieving measurable outcomes in the wise and careful use of energy and water, leveraging advanced technologies or services. Congratulations to CPS Energy and BRK Ambiental as the recipients of this year’s Excellence in Resourcefulness Awards. In addition, John Marcolini, Itron’s SVP of Networked Solutions, announced Western Power in Perth, Australia as our 2020 Innovator Award winner.

Missed IUW 2020?
If you were unable to attend this year’s event, or if you would like to review sessions, all content will be available on demand through the end of November. To access the content, click here and select the REGISTER tile on our event landing page (if you have not already done so). Registration is quick, simple and free.

Be Sure to Join Us Next Year
For nearly 40 years, we’ve been hosting Itron Utility Week—or some version of it—for our customers, partners and prospects. What started as a small user-group meeting in an airport conference room has grown into one of the premier events in our industry. But just as our industry continues to evolve, so too must our signature event. In today’s world, smart cities, municipalities, co-ops, even government entities are all key stakeholders and have a seat at the table in our industry—and they should at our event as well. It is with this all of this in mind, that I am so excited to introduce all of you to: Itron Inspire.

This will be the new name for our conference moving forward. And although we’re rebranding the event, our customers, partners, prospects and all of you can still expect the same great industry connections, thought leadership and valuable insights that you’ve come to expect from IUW in the past.

You’ll be seeing a lot more about Itron Inspire as we prepare for next year’s event—which I am pleased to announce will be hosted at the JW Marriott Desert Springs in Palm Desert, California, Oct. 1 – 8, 2021.

Together with our customers and our partners, we’ll inspire new thinking and new ingenuity across our industry as we all work to create a more resourceful world.

 

Marina Donovan
Vice President, Global Marketing and Public Affairs - Itron
Marina Donovan has more than 20 years of global technology marketing and public relations experience with a background in data security, networking and mobile. She joined Itron as vice president of global marketing and public affairs in January 2018. Prior to joining Itron, she was vice president of marketing for Silver Spring Networks.