Ed’s note: the consumer platform of the future

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Consumer Platform of the Future

A report released later today by SECC and SEPA (Consumer Platform of the Future: Industry Insider Perspectives) examines the changing landscape of customer relations for utilities and proposes that a customer platform may help address a number of utility objectives in this regard.

Clear that a platform is more than just an interface*, the report showcases the opportunities and challenges of providing easy access to customer data in a way that is clearly understood and actionable.

Based on interviews with industry insiders, the report indicates that the elements that make up a successful platform include information about options and recommendations for improving energy use and a flexible, agile and smart interface that is adaptable to the changes occurring within the sector.

Of course, having a customer platform is only a part of the battle. The real challenge lies in getting customers to use it and ensuring it addresses customer needs.

Duke Energy and Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUC) share their experiences with customer platforms, highlighting issues such as opt-in vs opt-out and ensuring vendor visions align with those of the utility.  Interestingly, SMUD highlighted “anytime you have an innovative product, it generates a lot of interest across an organization, and there are pressures to have decision-making spread widely, even for relatively minor details.”

Part of the report feedback is the ever-important issue of customer expectation, which according to the authors are:

  • More control: Consumers have a desire to be more in control of their energy use and want choices to manage it.
  • More affordable energy: Consumers want more affordable options to meet their energy needs.
  • Clean/green energy: Consumers are showing that they value and want cleaner or greener energy.
  • Easy to use: Customers are saturated with information from multiple sources and do not want to spend much time thinking about electricity technologies or electricity in general.
  • Fast, personalised service: The benchmark is no longer other utilities: it is Amazon and Southwest.

Do you provide a customer platform for your customers? What has your experience been with regards to the challenges and expectations? Do they align with those of the utilities interviewed by SECC and SEPA?  We’d love to hear from you.

Next edition

We have already started planning for the second edition of 2019 and I wanted to share with you some of the focus for that edition before I end off.

Being the official publication for both China Utility Week and African Utility Week, we will provide insights into two vastly different markets, examining the development of smart grid in China vs Africa and highlighting opportunities within both markets, as well as opportunities for Chinese companies within Africa.

Additionally, we have two special focuses in this edition – one being components (smart meter, smart grid and grid edge components specifically) and smart cities. Join us as we explore our changing city landscape and how utility services are and must be central to that development.

If you would like to participate in this edition, please contact Errol Bryce for more information around our competitive and multi-faceted commercial opportunities (digital, video and print) or myself for utility-based, non-commercial editorial.

*In the context of the report “A platform is a communications and control asset that performs certain tasks that may require cloud-based communications, application programming interfaces (APIs), or specialized integration of specific functions. It is built from both hardware, such as servers, and software, including algorithms, backend software, and interoperability and product integration code.”