How Utilities Can Thrive in the Digital Era

04/04/2017 09:15 Energy Market

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Great challenges bring great opportunities, they say. 

 

However, according to several industry studies from top consulting firms, the utility industry is not keeping pace with other market segments in terms of digitization.

 

With the advent of the digital era, expectations from customers and internal users in utility companies have changed, or better, have evolved dramatically.

 

Rethinking business processes to transform performance and integrate multiple departments’ efficiency and workflow is crucial for the company’s success and future evolution.

 

Since it's 2017, it may sound simple you may think, but some challenges request courage and innovation driven changing decisions. Unfortunately, as of today, the latter have yet to materialize. Utilities need to enhance their customer’s experience and enable a self-service usage.

 

Did you know? Less than 40% of utilities use digital technologies.

 

While there’s no doubt that digitization IS the future and it’s going to happen sooner or later, the obvious question is: Why not sooner?

 

Top Business Challenges for Utilities in Europe

 

According to industry research, two out of top three challenges for utility businesses are related to customer retention and customer experience.

 

 

What About Your Customers?

 

According to Capgemini’s industry research, 52% of the utilities interviewed allow their customer to pay their bills online. 

 

Okay, so that’s B2C. But how are utilities serving Business Customers? How many utility companies offer an option to access and operate online? The answer is closely related to the whole digitization transition.

 

Digitization would provide utilities with endless opportunities to lower internal operational costs, improving the customer experience and allowing self-service options.

 

So the question is: Will you have the courage to disrupt traditional business models?

 

From banks to telecoms, consumers were teleported to tech-rich and engaging experiences. Shouldn't utility business customers be able to do the same?

 

In fact, research and customer interviews have shown that the industry is still heavily relying on a telephone and email workflow, involving multiple conversations, email history, lots of data handling and lost data between the customer itself, the account manager, the trading department, the portfolio management and the back office.

 

What Are the Key Challenges Today?

 

A key topic is the challenge new digital processes brings to the internal culture and mindset of utility companies. 

 

Customer engagement, which is part of the business customer’s journey when a utility company signs him up, is crucial for future success and retention activities (activities directly linked to account management, trading and position situation reporting, which are based on data coming from customer analytics and trading.)

 


 

Experts' Point of View

by Stephane Querinjean | Managing Director at EnergyMarketPrice

 

Decision makers hope somebody else will take responsibility for them to lead the company to a new era. 

 

With the Utility industry weakened by the deregulation of markets, it’s quite obvious many companies are under high pressure. Competition of newcomers has killed the profit margins they were used to.

 

Switching suppliers has never been so easy and only early adopters of digitization are able to protect their market share and even increase it. Many will not have the courage to face the digitization of their service. Even further, the multiplication of decentralized production has disorganized completely the way utilities used to manage their business. 

 

How many times have we heard that utilities want to offer new services to their clients in order to differentiate from their competitors and failing to do so? 

 

It’s all About Courage and Leadership

 

Fundamental market changes along with any crisis can bring great opportunities and we have seen so few players taking advantage of this. Less than 5% of European utilities have prioritized digitization, quickly recognizing the advantages of this path. 

 

The inevitable consequences in terms of internal culture and mindset change are initially seen as a threat, decision makers hoping somebody else would take responsibility for them, leading the company to a new era. Suppliers gain new customers by competing on price, but in order to retain existing ones, they need to deliver better and innovative services.

 

It is time for utilities to have the necessary courage and turn the challenges into new opportunities. Utilities are sitting on a gold mine of highly valuable customer data, but how many really know their customers?

 

Personalization of offering shouldn’t be an exclusive area of e-commerce companies.

 

"A Digital Service in utilities is like teenage love: everybody talks about it but very few practice it." 

 

 

Ready to go Digital?

 

If you're ready to go digital, or at least consider exploring what options you have at your disposal, let us show you what's possible.

 

With our leading cloud-based platform for a more efficient procurement process between utility and business customers, we make the transition toward the digital energy landscape so much easier and a lot more fun.

 

 

 

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