Firstly, hello and welcome to what will be a regular blog taking an informal view of all things utilities, with a specific focus on how we as an industry can leverage the power of data.
As an opening gambit I highlight a key point I took from our efforts as an industry to understand how to engage customers in a smart energy market, subsequent to the roll out of smart meters. Much time was spent by the industry (myself included) understanding how to leverage the In-Home Display (IHD) to be deployed in homes alongside smart meters for this purpose. However, I and many others agree that the IHD will to a great extent be redundant by the time most of us get one (assuming we do).
For those of this opinion, it is not purely a hunch. There is data to back this up. Most quantitative studies show those in younger age brackets are more likely to engage with a smart energy market, and that they will do so to a greater degree than other segments. This trend is mirrored in the adoption of smart phones, which is predominantly within these age brackets, and we know that smart phone junkies are driven by what their devices tell them (I can tell you from personal experience!). They are much more likely to pay attention to, and interact with these devices than say an IHD.
This is not a catastrophic oversight – there have been many worse. A mobile and indeed multi-channel approach (potentially including IHDs) is now starting to be adopted across the industry. Two key points I take away from this.
Firstly we as an industry are not good at understanding what data is available to us, and secondly we are not good at leveraging this data at any level to improve how we interact with the customer. Timing is key and the ability to react rapidly and change plans as new trends emerge is essential. This is particularly important in retail. The example I give is very rudimentary, but if we had taken some time to merge and understand these two data sets, mobile would have been on the agenda much earlier than it was.
Data driven, customer centric retail strategies are becoming more and more critical as the energy retail market matures.
Increased volumes and improved access to data will need to be leveraged at strategic, and indeed operational levels in response to new entrants as retail business models become ever more fluid. We as an industry need to get good at this. There is already evidence in EMEA that failure to adapt to what the data is telling you could be critical.
Please do challenge my point of view. Do you see our industry as customer centric, and if so why?
Iain Stewart is the Principal Utilities Expert for Teradata in the EMEA region, with over 13 years of experience in utilities sector. He has worked with a number of gas and electricity retail, distribution and transmission clients, water clients, and in policy and regulation. Connect with Iain Stewart on Linkedin.
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